Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Picture Story...The Perfect Day in Pennsylvania

Color abounds in Pennsylvania on this beautiful autumn day. I start the day outside my front door.

Not frost, but dew on the pumpkins in the morning!

Emma, our cat, demands attention...often.

Off to The Springhouse...pumpkins everywhere. I got milk and cookies! (More on The Springhouse later!)

Off to the farm and the blueberries have turned red~ gorgeous!

The gorgeous fall color is coming to life out at the farm. There are hundreds of blackbirds in the trees right now.

Hundreds. They look great against the pink and reds.

Odd mushrooms growing at the farm under some pines. I have no idea if they are safe, I'm guessing not, since no critters have munched on them. If in doubt...don't touch!

This toby tree is in the front yard by the house. It's huge! You can see the corner roof of the house on the left amongst the leaves. I can't get the whole tree in the frame of this picture!

Corn or beans can be found in just about any open nook and cranny around here. It's quite a pretty sight.

Leaving the farm to head to Mingo Park, one of my other favorite places. The black angus cattle are enjoying this gorgeous day too.

Maybe my favorite picture. Going down Epler's Hill towards the Truck Stop, this bend in the road is very inviting.

Ahh, I arrived at Mingo Park to find some more color! Imagine a wooded park running through a valley with a wide and shallow creekbed running through it, the kind with great rock jumping and skipping rocks and crayfish and toads...and you have Mingo Park. Beautiful.

Some gorgeous color on the hill next to the creek at Mingo.

The shallow and wide creekbed.

Look here. I'm standing by the creek, the road above. Look above the guard rail at the rocks jutting out...and the rather large tree growing on those rocks! Now who ever said Pennsylvania is boring and sleepy!

This is the retaining wall under the roadway that has the tree growing above the rocks! This wall has been here for as long as I can remember, and we've come to this park since I was a very little girl.

The Henry Bridge. One of the anchor's of the park, the other being The Ebenizer Bridge on the other side of the park.

Haha...and the day ends with soccer. They usually end with soccer! She's gotten quite good at her corner kicks!

Well really, the day ended with the milk and cookies I got at The Springhouse.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Could They Really be Eating...Stinkbugs?!?

 I'm in the kitchen this afternoon, actually just a few minutes ago, making starter for Amish Friendship Bread, when I hear this scratching racket outside the window.  We have a metal awning over one of them, so I knew there was a bird up there...I also heard quite a bit of chatter.  I took a look outside, and saw numerous blackbirds in my neighbors driveway hopping around and looking up at their house.  Now we have a stinkbug problem here, and they are desperately trying to get into any house they can before it gets too cold, so they'll converge on the sunny side of any house and get in through the windows...sneaky little buggers they are.  Anyway, I observe the blackbirds flying up onto the brick of their house and one definately comes down with something.  The other birds scurry towards the bird with 'food', trying to snatch it away, but the bird with the bug won't have it and gobbles it down.  I wonder, with much hope, did he just eat a stinkbug?  Then I smell the familiar pungent stink bug defensive smell and figure...yes!  Nature is taking a hold against these non-native menaces!  The birds are mostly flying near the windows, so I'm pretty sure they are after stinkbugs, so I check my own backyard.  I hear many,many blackbirds in our silver maple tree out back, and actually see blurs of black flying past the windows...and I smell the 'smell' of angry stinkbugs. And I feel joy.  Not over killing bugs, I'm not usually like that, I figure nature will take it's course, but these bugs are 'introduced' to the northeast, by some sort of mystery, and originally had no natural enemy.  Not only are they a menace in the house, but they love sappy plants: sugar maples (of which mine have several brown spots where they were eaten) and sunflowers in which they basically destroy the flower and they compete with birds, bees, and butterflies for nectar...bad stinkbugs.

So, as these guys stop at my bird bath for a drink, I'm happy!  They can stay as long as necessary...good blackbirds!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Clear Blue October Day

This title kind of sounds like a country song...

As hard as it is to believe, it's October 6th, and southwest Pennsylvania is beautiful. Bright blue sky, mid 70's temps, light breeze, dry ~ no rain! Last week here felt more like late November, with 4 or 5 days of straight cold and misty rain, but not today...this kind of day is the reward for making it through that kind of weather! Anyway, pictured above are some fresh herbs I snipped for dinner, parsley, basil, and oregano ( my Mom started this oregano from seed not too long before she passed away. It's a pretty tough perennial, so I'm glad it's still going strong!) I keep them in water until it's time to use them, and they not only look pretty, but they make the kitchen smell wonderful.

I can't say enough about these chrysanthemums, the color is vibrant. I bought 6 of these last fall at Walmart of all places ~ they were very small, and $1.00 each. They were so tiny last year, and looked a bit out of place in the flowerbed, I planted them pretty close so they could be seen and they were only a buck! Four of them survived the winter, two of each color. I think they look fantastic together, and the color really brightens up the fall!

And green beans in October! This past spring was really wet here, my beans didn't like it at all, and I had trouble getting them to grow. In the end, I had two surviving plants, which I planted in my 'secret garden' in our backyard. These two plants finally took hold, and gave me enough beans to snack on daily in September. They all of the sudden have produced alot of beans, enough for dinner tonight...which I forgot about until I was about to put dinner on the table. As I was putting out the salad, I said "Oh no, I forgot to cook the beans!" Luckily, my girls like to snack on them raw too, so that's what we did! Yummy! And even better on October 6th. In Pennsylvania.