Sunday, November 18, 2007

Air, Land and Water Observations

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It was 15 degrees this morning and as I looked out the kitchen window I saw my friend the barred owl land in a tree above the trout pond. I took this picture of him several weeks ago and have been more than pleased with his local presence for more than three weeks. Barred owls don't seem to mind flying in daylight and this one moves back and forth between here and the top of the hill. When he is sitting in a locust tree as in this picture, it's easy to walk or drive right by and not even notice him. This morning he landed in a white birch and was no challenge to watch. A couple nights back I heard it call which is uncommon this time of year as locating a mate is not on an owl's "to do list" this time of year.

More than a month ago now on October 15th, I missed an item I wanted to write about. Some would question the topic's relationship to our new gardens but you can make up your mind and let me know. October 15th, 2007 was the first ever Blog Action Day. The day was intended to raise an awareness of environmental concerns and people were encouraged to write and share thoughts and resources. I did not. Back then I was still spending time planting daylilies and finishing up odd chores. Regardless of missing that day, I think about environmental issues almost every day.

Owning property bordered by the beautiful Winooski River has encouraged Gail and Alex and me to think more about the environment that surrounds us. We have walked the river and its banks and have visually searched the area for new plants and animals we need to learn. I'm familiar with the Friends of the Winooski River and volunteered this summer on some water flow studies. This is a dedicated group with a mission to protect and teach.

The Winooski that flows by us has a lot to tell. It is small in comparison to when it enters Lake Champlain in Colchester, Vermont but just being the state's largest watershed offers big expectations. Between the Friends website and the Nature Compass site
which includes the Winooski River Paddling Guide, you can quickly learn a great deal. Thinking about Blog Action Day and then the Winooski I am reminded how important it is to protect such a fine river and watershed.

Despite the cold this morning, I took Karl the wonder dog with me when I went to work on the last of the clean up work. I parked the truck and we just sat there at the top of the land admiring the new gates Gail and Alex helped hang Wednesday night. Karl sat tall in the truck as if guarding the river and I watched as a flock of geese flew overhead and four mergansers headed down the river at top speed. Come spring we will plant some new trees along the banks and we will get flowers planted in the gardens along the bank. During the winter as I rebuild our Vermont Flower Farm website, we'll add sections on the native flora and fauna. I'm even hoping that Alex will take over this project in between helping Gail and customers.

Although the barred owl is mostly silent this time of year, it reminds me that we shouldn't be when it comes to our environment. Maybe next year you can join in Blog Action Day as we will and try to help keep Vermont green! In the meantime, do all you can to keep things green.

Writing from the cold mountain above Peacham Pond where Mrs. Deer and this year's twins work their way up the bank outside my office window. It's just 8 PM and 17 degrees outside, and spirea stems and black raspberry leaves are apparently on the Sunday evening deer menu.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener