The Gathering

This past week I’ve been watching squirrels gathering acorns around the church grounds. They’ve been quite busy! As I observed them, I wondered how they know when they’ve gathered enough. Do they know how many they will need during the long winter ahead? Have you ever wondered where they keep them all?

I’ve seen squirrel nests up in the treetops, but it’s doubtful there is even a single acorns inside. The gray squirrels in our area actually bury their cache, one nut at a time. According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, each squirrel can bury up to 1,000 nuts per year! And somehow, they will find a substantial number of them when they are hungry. (And I’m pressed to find where I’ve placed my six pair of reading glasses.)

Arrivals and Departures

I often ponder the amazing timing of God’s creatures — how they know when to gather food, hibernate, and migrate. Do they simply sense the change in season, or are they intricately designed to know when it’s time to gather or go?

By mid-April each year, I am eagerly watching for the hummingbirds to arrive at our feeder. They are so tiny and quick that I often miss their debut. One day I’ll be standing at the window sipping my coffee, and suddenly, there they are! Then again each fall, I await their departure for warmer climates. The feeder stays outside until I am sure they are gone. Then within a few days, I am cheered by the arrival of the Dark-Eyed Juncos, foraging on the ground for seeds. The passing of these two bird species is nearly simultaneous each fall.

Think about the millions of birds and butterflies right now, high above us in the skies, heading to their winter homes. And next year, they will make this trip north again. It’s truly amazing!

Goodnight Garden

On the home front, the vegetable garden is almost finished for the season. I find myself wishing we had planted more squash, but we just didn’t have the extra space this year. We’ve had quite a lengthy dry spell, and everything green is stressed from the ongoing heat. We continue watering our tomatoes, and they are still producing fruit. That will likely continue until the first frost, usually in mid-October.

As we did last year, we plan to let a substantial part of the garden stay in place through the winter months. It provides both food and shelter for our feathered friends. We’ll have a bit more clean-up in the spring, but I don’t mind the delay.

🍁🍁🍁

The Homecoming

Perhaps like the squirrels, fall is my gathering time too.

This change in seasons brings a blend of heavenly aromas — cinnamon and nutmeg, hot apple crisp and simmering stews. It’s time to dig out the sweaters and blue jeans, and begin decorating my home. Fall is a cozy time of anticipation too, while I await that moment when everyone finds their way back home. My nest — and heart — will be full again.

 

Growing Anticipation

For a month with only 28 days, February sure seems to be the longest month of the year. We’re all hunkered down, hibernating until warmer weather arrives.

Growing Pains

This is a month of anticipation for gardeners. In our house that means starting seeds!  Discussions have begun about what to plant and where to plant it. Much like life itself, that entails addressing successes and failures from the past.

I am not the gardener, so I can only brag about my husband, Neil’s successes. They included his delicious crops of lettuce, cucumbers and Delicata squash. The biggest failure, however, almost proved catastrophic. Because we had such a wet summer, the rain saturated the ground, then splashed pathogens up onto the leaves above. This caused a lot of disease and premature rot, particularly on the tomato plants.

Planting Plans
Max loves his oat grass!

Undeterred, Neil has spent months planning this year’s garden and has a plan in place to avoid similar issues. He is also taking full advantage of our “grand-bunnies”, Max and Charlie.  Throughout the winter he has been collecting their bunny beans. There is also a worm farm in our basement. Bet you didn’t know that worm castings are amazing fertilizer. From the outside, our home looks as normal as the others in the neighorhood, but there is a lot growing on inside!

While winter has kept my hubby from his vegetable garden, it hasn’t prevented him from trying out some indoor growing. We have enjoyed a variety of sprouts in our salads — radish, mustard, alfalfa, cress and mung bean. All were delicious. And now, he is harvesting . . . (wait for it) . . . mushrooms! Neil did a lot of research and has tried out two varieties: Shitake and Grey Dove Oyster. He is like a mad scientist with his “fruiting chamber.” But that is a post for another time.

Sowing Seeds of Love

Today as I was thinking about spring and the upcoming growing season, I marveled at the amazing abundance that comes from one tiny seed. What an awesome creation that sustains both man and beast!

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. (Genesis 1:11)

God was and is the greatest gardener of all time.

Have patience. The warmer weather will come, and with it the beautiful flowering buds and songbirds returning to nest. What a glorious gift that we can anticipate during the rest of the wintry days!