Monthly Archives: December 2009

Frosty garden limbo

Freezing fog has kept the area chilly, with few sun breaks, sometimes only an hour before dusk.  Still, it is easier maneuvering through the garden than in pouring rain.  It appears the kale survived the earlier arctic wave without protection…hooray!  Not that it is actually doing anything except sitting in limbo.  The soil temperature (at 3-inch depth) is still hovering between 38 and 40°.  Brrrr…

Christmas has brought us a lovely break in this monotony, with the sun breaking through by mid-morning; nippy day, with only 7 degrees difference between the high and low temperatures, but the radiance was welcomed by many.

A circus of birds paraded through the yard at times: a swarm of bushtits, a couple of goldfinches, chickadees, and yellow-rumped warblers, plus the usual raucous starlings.  The two resident hummingbirds were squeaking away merrily, zipping in to feed when the other wasn’t looking.

A new gift “for the garden” is a heat mat for growing seedlings.  It will fit perfectly in my kitchen garden window.  Now I can grow some chanterai (mini-canteloupes) and margarita melons.  Now to redesign the bed…..

Solstice greetings! It's sleepy time for the garden. Where's Juniper?

A feline farewell

Cedar, my intrepid little tabby cat who hauled himself back from the verge of death several times, when vets thought he “was a goner,” earned himself the title of “Energizer-kitty,” somehow managing to keep on going-and-going-and-going, with occasional “system failures” or “resets,” amidst his complicated health issues of the last 4-5 years.

On December 3rd he gave me the definite sign that he could no longer sustain his Energizer image and it was time to move to the Rainbow Bridge of light before he suffered any further.  The unique combination of being mellow, but very strong-willed, carried him through 16-and-a half years of life, and I’m sure he was granted more than 9 lives!  Cedar had a knack for keeping his angels and guardians very busy!

He served as official escort for several neighbors as they walked to our street’s common mailbox center, and was the official greeter-cat on the block for many years.  He always knew when I’d be coming home from work, whether by bicycle, car, or foot, and would wait by the front fence.

Sometimes seeming more dog-like than cat, Cedar followed me around the yard like a little trooper, as I worked through the different yard projects, until his final year.  Because the front community garden was installed when he really slowed down, he wasn’t a regular visitor, but preferred to stay just behind the front fence, bedding down on his favorite sunrose, keeping his ears tuned to all activities.  His spirit is still strongly felt in the garden.

Cedar in his prime

An arctic wave to end the season

The full moon on December 2nd heralded a phase of turbulence that has only eased itself with a slow return to more seasonal, wet weather.

The day was busy enough as it was, coming home from work to prepare a meal for friend Jack, just out of knee surgery.  Old Cedar-cat had been having a very difficult week since Thanksgiving, and there was always a good amount of ritual cleanup to do.  Meanwhile, we were warned of an imminent plunge of night temps, having already had a couple of frosty nights.  The lettuce and chard needed to come out, but I needed more time.  Neighbor Patty to the rescue, as if she read my mind!  With her help we plucked the lettuce and chard well after dark, leaving the leeks and kale to weather whatever might come.

The arctic wave extended well beyond its original few days, leaving us cold and dry (thank goodness, no ice) with night temperatures into the single digits.  It became too cold for frost, quite a rarity in these parts.  It will be interesting come spring to see what doesn’t make it through.  Though I kept them fairly sheltered, I hope the new pineapple guava seedlings in their containers make it!

But, all those positive ions that build up with continued high pressure get trapped down in the dense cold layer, and start making many people agitated, impatient, crabby, and extremely tired.  Where was our seasonal rain?

Relief was on the way as of December 11th, with a noticeable pressure shift and cloud cover moving in. The tricky part in western Oregon is maneuvering through the “transition zone” since freezing rain is frequently a visitor.  There was a quagmire of accidents once the ice formed during that night into the next day, but it passed quickly.  My skin in finally relaxing and feeling less dehydrated!

Juniper-kitty thought it would be fun to jump out the door per her normal routine, but didn’t bargain for the immediate skating she had to try out.  At first perplexed, she then thought it a bit fun, making tiny runs on the concrete to see if she slid.  However, that quickly became old as she became more intent on walking through the yard, where she had more traction on the soil.

Wouldn’t you know?  My camera decided to go on the fritz while trying to take some pictures.

A good time to list the bit of November’s bounty, and call it the final tally for 2009:

  • Lettuce:    6.5 (pounds)
  • Kale:         1
  • Chard:      3.5
  • Leeks:      0.75

Month’s Total: 11.25

Total season bounty:  579 pounds (rounded)  Well done!