Sunday, October 10, 2010

Students Learn, Birds fly, and Writers Write

I helped (just a wee bit) with the girl's senior project.  She had to (with the help of her mentor) learn how to collect, catalogue, and preserve a plant collection.  I hadn't done anything like this since 2002-2003.  I'd forgotten how much fun it was.  

I remember many days just like today, soaked from the knees down under the not-really-adequate shelter of a red and white golf umbrella (the same one I used today, in fact) while my horticulture instructor led us through various gardens and rattled off common and latin names. I used a waterproof notebook and wrote in pencil.  I collected bags and bags of plants, which I then had to sort, re-identify, and press within a few hours or they'd be too wilted to be useful.  Sometimes the specimens kept okay overnight in the refrigerator.  I still have books and books of pressed plants.  Some are in better condition than others.  Anyway, although the girl is a bit overwhelmed, she seems to be learning, and having fun too.

This morning I let the chickens out into pouring rain.  They make different noises during different conditions that sometimes imply language to me.  "Cluck cluck, what weather we're having today!  A little rain is just fine, but this is going a bit far, don't you think?"

I gave them a handful of black oil sunflower seeds, their favorite, to help stave off the morning damp (soaking) and chill.  It definitely feels like autumn, with warm, beautiful days and the gentle storms.  Much as I love summer, autumn is special too, and I'm happy with my orange pumpkins and ripening corn.  The chickens don't seem to mind either.  They've been raiding the tomatoes.  So much for a chance at getting some ripe ones here at the end ... but it's just so much fun watching them disassemble fruit and raid the compost pile for bugs that I wouldn't dream of keeping them away.

Not that I could.  They can really fly now.  Trim their wings?  I could, but if I didn't want creatures flying around here, I wouldn't have gotten birds in the first place.  Besides, we still have rats, and this way my chicks-all-grown-up will be a little safer.

I hope everyone local is enjoying a cozy, rainy day.  I'll be programming, and writing.  Tomorrow it's back to the day job, so I'm hoping to really make this day count.

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