Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nabucco at the Met.

9-28-11 SHORT HILLS: When it rains, it pours. That old saying and one-time jingle for a table salt company, is happening here. We have had yet more rain last night and today, along with more fog, mist and humidity.

We got to the city, NYC, last night, had dinner with Ina at Cafe Fiorella and went to the Met for the first “Nabucco” of the season. Maria Guleghina, one of my faves played Abigaille, the villianess of Verdi’s opera. She dominated the stage, she was great. There are a number of Choral arias in “Nabucco”, but ‘Va pensiero’ is the highlight of the evening. Most performances, it’s played twice, if there is enough applause, but not last night to our disappointment. People were humming it as we shuffled up the aisle after the last curtain call.

And—it didn’t rain inside.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sticky Doors.

9-26-11 SHORT HILLS: The weather continues to be humid to the point that doors and windows are hard to open and close. It’s warm, sticky, muggy, muddy, buggy, dank and dark. Rain or T-storms are predicted for most of the upcoming week. In spite of the summery weather, leaves are turning—the ash have started to drop, dogwood is reddish. The trees seem to be responding to light period rather than ambient temperature, which only makes sense, if you’re a tree. Day length is totally predictable but, cooling is irregular and unpredictable.

The roses continue to bloom. This one has a visiting friend, some sort of small wasp, perhaps.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back in the Rain Forest.

9-22-11 SHORT HILLS: Our flirtation with freezing is over. Today dawned hot, muggy, humid, overcast and foggy. There was some rain last night, and the ground was wet and the leaves were dripping—NJ rain forest. The air is heavy, visible and totally still. The ‘squeeters are quite active.

I’m back in shorts and tees, I always say, “Dress for the thermometer, not by the calender.” I did some clean up in the pool area and was soaked after a few minutes of raking up branches and soggy leaves.

A few weeks ago, I rescued a butterfly bush buried by an aggressive hydrangea, and now it’s busy blooming again.

Tomorrow morning, 5:04 EDT is the moment when the sun sinks below the Equator, day and night are of equal length, although the day seem longer than the night because of twilight after sunset and before sunrise. That passage marks the beginning of our fall and then winter. Our falls and winters may seem longer than the spring and summers, but are actually a few days shorter.

Add up the days: September-7 + October-31 + November-30 + December-31 + January-31 + February-29 + March-20 = 179. [The Vernal Equinox is March 20th.] Next year, a Leap Year, will have 366 days, so 366 – 179 = 187 days for next spring and summer—8 days more than the upcoming fall and winter. Now, don’t you feel better about winter?

Dark, dank and muggy morning.

Butterfly Bush looks cheery even on a dull morning.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chilly NIghts.

9-20-11 SHORT HILLS: We both drove down Sunday through moderately heavy traffic. The yard is finally drying out here, but it’s supposed to rain for the next several days—more mud on the way.

The last two night in VT were cold. The temperatures were down in the mid-thirties. We didn’t get a frost, but a few of the low lying more northerly spots did. Even in NJ, it was in the forties.

I mis-dated the last post as the 17th instead of the 16th, sorry, I hope no one was misled. Tell me you didn’t miss a wedding or funeral, if that’s not attributing way too much importance to my postings.

In bloom: hosta, rose-of-sharon, lamium, roses, butterfly bush.

Early fall color in NH. Every year a few early trees lead to the assumption that it will be an early fall, but the main event is always at the same time, just after Columbus Day, at least in the mid-upper Connecticut valley.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Close to Freezing.

9-17-11 VERMONT: We have had more rain, two showers, each delivered 0.2 inches. The big weather news is a cold spell. Last night it was in the mid-thirties, today was cool, windy and partly sunny, tonight is again predicted to be in the thirties. Brrr. We have had fires in the evening. I put up the storm doors and put the screens away today. One of the outer doors was coming apart at the bottom from all the rain. I took it down, removed rotted dowels, let it dry, replaced the dowels, glued it and clamped it together. Tomorrow I’ll rehang it and put the glass in.

We brought in more tomatoes today, another big basket full. We have six big, ripe pumpkins and three more still green. The corn was disappointing this year, about half the stalks were stunted and produced only small, deformed ears.

There are mushrooms everywhere. Big cup shaped ones in white and brown, yellow domes, yellow cocktail tables, red frilly ones, white clusters, and more—all due to the monsoon rains.

New blooms: another hybrid day lily, clearly the last just opened.

Apple trees laden with red fruit.

Here are some of those spider webs I mentioned in the last post. All those grey things are invisible when dry.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Misty Morning.

9-13-11 VERMONT: Everything was grey this morning. Visibility was maybe a 100 feet. Looking up, the sky was blue indicating a nice day to come. When the dogs and I walked the pasture, I needed a jacket and my Wellingtons got wet to mid-calf. There were thousands of spider webs about a inch off the ground, visible because they were filled with dew. By mid-morning the mist was gone, and it was sunny, warm, dry and hazy.

The apples from the grandchildren trees, one planted on each natal occasion, are delicious this year. Usually the unsprayed and untreated fruit is small, lumpy and scarred, but, for unknown reasons, this year is different. Anything that falls in the pasture, of course, belongs to Brady the horse. He won’t need to see a doctor for at least a decade.

Where's the yard?

Joe Pye Weed and Asters.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Muddy Waters.

9-11-11 VERMONT: It’s the tenth anniversary of the horrible terrorist attack on NYC and Washington, but I won’t comment other than to note that the Ground Zero Memorial looks beautiful, restful, reassuring and serene, and I look forward to visiting it.

As I drove to VT today, I noticed that the Hudson and Connecticut Rivers were both brown as were the Deerfield, Black, Green, White and other smaller rivers in MA and VT. All the water levels are high, and the rivers are flowing fast. We had another 2.65 inches in the rain gauge from the last week or so. They’re all caring a lot of sand, silt and mud that will end up in the Atlantic on the ocean bottom. Someday that mud and sand will be new sedimentary mudstone and sandstone deposits. Ordinarily those rivers have low flow and clear water at this time of year.

All that mud was eroded from the washed out river beds, roads, farms, fields and hillsides, and it is one step in the on-going process of leveling and flattening of New England. The Appalachians were once as tall as the Himalayas, but hundreds of millions of years of weathering and erosion have reduced them to what we see today—by events like what we have just experienced. We are seeing Geology happening, and, let me add, it is no fun being part of the action whether hurricane, flood, earthquake or volcano.

New blooms: more hosta, more asters.

The gardens have enjoyed the rain.

Perennial Chrysanthemum.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Knee Deep in Rain.

9-8-11 SHORT HILLS: More rain and more rain, it doesn’t stop. There’s another round of flooding for all those soggy, low-lying communities that have been so hard hit this year. So far in September, we have had over 5 inches of rain, more than a month’s worth, and, for the year, we have had 53 inches. Our usual total for the year as of this date is 32 inches. This last round has the yard wet and squishy again. Being on the side of a hill, thankfully, not at the bottom, has cost us some of the little topsoil that we have, or had.

It cleared late this morning, and I got out to do more trimming, pruning and weeding, and I found more downed branches from Irene and hauled them up to the street and added them to the pile waiting for the town to collect. Usually I take it all to the dump, but they want it left on the street now.

Tomorrow’s forecast? Fifty percent chance of rain.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Knee Deep in Weeds.

9-6-11 SHORT HILLS: We are getting heavy rain from TS Lee, and the sump pump is sloshing away in the basement. Franks Tree took care of the red maple crown, but we’re still waiting for the electric company to do the sycamore laying on the power lines. I have done some weeding yesterday and the day before, but there is a ton to go. That’s the consequence of not being here for most of the summer. I bought a Black and Decker cordless weed wacker to help with the weeds when I’m not trying to save any plants under the weeds, so far, the battery life seems pretty short. Before the rain, it was hot and humid, muggy and buggy. We’re debating when to bring in the vacationing house plants.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Fall in the Future.

9-2-11 SHORT HILLS: We have been back in NJ for a few days. The boys and Siobhan are on the way back to California. We had more damage here from Irene here than in VT. In the house, the basement was wet, but a couple sweepings cleared in out, and it’s almost dry now. There might have been a inch or two of water at some point because the power was out for almost a day, and the sump pump doesn’t run without electricity.

The yard was littered with leaves and branches, big and small, that the lawn care guys and I cleaned up. There is a huge pile of debris on the street waiting for the town to collect.

One small sycamore that I planted about thirty years ago, as a two year old sapling, was partially uprooted and is leaning on the electric wires. The power company is supposed to take it down. About half its root system is intact, and I wonder if it might send up new shoots. One other tree, a red maple, lost almost its entire crown. Two huge branches are laying in the neighbor’s yard. That tree also has a chance to survive.

Almost all the spring plantings look OK. One of the five cherry trees is marginal, but the others will make it.

In bloom: roses, rose-of-sharon, foxglove, lamium, hosta, fall wildflowers.

Signs of Fall-Asters.

Bottle Gentian. Those are not buds. That is as open as the flowers get. How are they pollinated?