Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Golden-crowned Kinglets

While washing apples for making applesauce and cider today, I heard a series of high-pitched "tsee, tsee" calls faintly through the closed window in front of me. Fluttering among the mimosa branches were perhaps fifteen or so of these acrobatic creatures. Constantly in motion flipping upside down, hovering in mid-air, and hopping from branch to delicate branch, I'm quite surprised I caught this photo. It's interesting to note that the kinglet lays 5 to 10 eggs at a time in a tiny nest, stacking the eggs two deep. They feed primarily on insects such as bark beetles, scale insects, plant lice (really? plants have lice?), and the eggs of aphids. Hmmm. Eggs of aphids. Welcome Kinglets! All hail the Kinglets!

ps During the summer this year, those same mimosa trees behind the house were crawling with yellow jackets for weeks on end. Probably hundreds of them. Looking up the diet of the common yellow jacket, I discovered they love scale insects and the honeydew from aphids...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Basil "success"?

Tonight's temperature forecasts call for frost tonight, so the basil needs its last trimming of the year. Stripping the leaves down in preparation for one last pesto-dipping frenzy, I spied this shy basil plant among the towering trees of basil:

This is the one basil plant left over from last year. I nurtured it over the winter, seeing if it would survive the winter and burst into leafy profusion next summer. It survived the winter, barely, with a few tiny bright green leaves showing promise as I replanted it outside this spring. It never forgave me. I hardly plucked a leaf all summer, waiting for the bursting leafy bouquet that never came. I suppose sometimes you need to embrace the changing of the seasons; the death and rebirth of all life in the natural world. It survived these two years, it's true, but the resources of time, effort, and space would have been better used on cool season crops.

So long, sweet basil.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Sometimes I can't resist the exotic. On the way back from the coast, we stopped in to Harry's Farmers' Market in Atlanta. It's now owned by Whole Foods, but they've kept it pretty close to the old Harry's. Here is one of my treats from the stop:

Friday, October 06, 2006

shrimpin' time

For the last eight years I've made the seven hour pilgrimage to my second home--Hunting Island, South Carolina. It's where I find my soul once again on the deserted beaches and jungle-like woodlands of this state park. Just take a cast-net and a stroll along the beach and you'll never know what you might find. I took a good friend out for his first time shrimping, and he's now addicted too. Blue crab omelettes, shrimp alfredo, and my personal favorite, shrimp grilled over an open fire, are all what makes me dream to return all year long. The above photo is my buddy checking on the goldenness of our freshly caught dinner. Olive oil and garlic salt are all that is needed for finger-licking heaven!
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