Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Walls and Birds
Weather: Last real rain was 8/27. Several times we had confrontations of hot and cold air that result in winds, clouds, and thunder. However, there wasn’t enough water in the atmosphere to get more that some splashes.
What’s blooming in the area: Hybrid roses, buddleia, Russian sage, trumpet creeper, silver lace vine, bouncing Bess, sweet peas, datura, morning glories, Sensation cosmos, zinnia, pampas grass.
Beyond the walls and fences: Yellow evening primroses, bindweed, scarlet creeper, green leaf five eyes, goat’s heads, alfalfa, leather leaf globe mallow, broom snakeweed, gum weed, golden hairy and purple asters. Tahoka daisies are everywhere along the roadsides, áñil del muerto and native sunflowers are flourishing in favored places.
In my yard: Garlic chives, large leafed soapwort, larkspur, catmints, calamintha, hollyhocks, winecup mallow, pink evening primrose, lead plant, Mönch asters, cutleaf coneflower, Mexican hats, Maximilian sunflowers, chocolate flowers, coreopsis, blanket flower, white yarrow, French marigolds, yellow cosmos, chrysanthemum.
Bedding plants: Wax begonias, sweet alyssum, moss rose, gazania.
Inside: Zonal geraniums.
Animal sightings: Rabbit, small birds, geckoes, small bees, hornets, ants, grasshoppers.
Weekly update: Whenever I hear someone trumpeting the merits of gated communities, I think of Poe’s "The Masque of the Red Death." I wonder, how safe is George Zimmerman from mosquitoes? The homeowner’s association for The Retreat at Twin Lakes may spray the grounds, but how high are those walls?
I’ve put up fences for all the usual reasons, and learned their limitations. I began with wide-mesh farm fence. The intent was to define a boundary so people would no longer consider my yard public land. So far as I know, it has kept out intruders. They simply park their cars as near to the fence as they can, and walk past the "no trespassing" signs to enter pueblo land.
Dogs are another matter. The ones who lived on the west would saunter along the fence to the gate, then walk through the rails. They knew what the fence was for, but that didn’t stop them.
Then, my neighbor on the north thought fresh eggs would be nice. Her chickens and turkey came through the mesh. They weren’t as smart as dogs. They couldn’t remember how to get out. They had to be directed.
So, I reinforced the northern fence and gate with vertical boards. That stopped the domestic animals, but rabbits and ground squirrels go under. I’ve watched cats go both under and over. Birds don’t even notice the barrier.
This past week I found three thriving Virginia creeper vines that had started from dropped pits. I also cut or otherwise tried to kill unwanted Russia olive trees.
Some insects are even worse. The ant queens join the mosquitoes, hornets and locust borers who fly over six-foot-high boards.
One unanticipated benefit of the fence was it stopped some weeds from invading from the north. That is, until we had a very dry year with stronger winds that usual. Then, the Russian thistles flew high enough to lodge above my head in the black locust.
People here have one problem that can’t be solved by walls. They use flood irrigation. By the time they get the water, it has traveled thirty miles through weedy banks. They can’t install filters without blocking the flow of water. I saw one lawn owner out this week standing in water with a rake. I’ve seen another in waders with a fish net trying to capture debris before it sank with the water. Their weed-and-feed chemicals can’t stop everything.
I’ve often wondered why anyone would plant anything as water-hungry as bamboo, or whatever that is in a ditch outside their wall. Then I realized, they probably didn’t. But someone, somewhere did.
As Donne might have said, no may can create an island.
Donne, John. "Meditation XVII." Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. 1624
Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Masque of the Red Death." 1842.
1, 2 and 5. Tall plant growing in a ditch in the village, 8 September 2016. I doubt they planted it, and several times a year someone cuts it to the ground.
3. Buffalo gourd down the road, 8 September 2016. I don’t know if these people planted this or not. They cut it down in the fall. Right now Tahoka daisies and pigweed are with it.
4. Virginia creeper that I didn’t notice until it poked through the porch floor, 4 September 2016. The nearest plants are about a quarter mile away.
6. My neighbor’s Russian olive leaning over my fence, 8 September 2016. Every year he cuts it down, but so far hasn’t found a way to kill it. There are some along the near arroyo with is less than a quarter mile away.