By MARY ALICE MURPHY
Last Saturday morning was the chilliest we've had since last winter. The thermometer, whose transmitter is in a somewhat protected place under the portal showed a chilly 34 degrees. But frost on the roof told me that in some spots the temperature had been at freezing or below.
I had our outside plants covered to keep the deer away. When I let the dog out for her last business trip of the night, the thermometer was already reading 46, which I thought was a bit low. I threw some extra covers on the plants, and they seem to have survived the chilly onslaught.
We still have upper windows open in our bedroom. We like to sleep cool. According to the forecast on weather.com for Silver City, the next couple of mornings are supposed to be in the upper 30s, which I guess is seasonal for approaching November. Highs will be in the upper 60s-a typical 30-degree swing of temperature when there are no clouds.
The only clouds visible today were the billowing smoke clouds from the Farm Flats prescribed burn north of Silver City. The smoke looked fierce, but residents were assured that Forest Service personnel were on hand with equipment to keep the fire under control, while letting the underbrush and downed trees burn beneficially.
Several mornings lately, we've had the pleasure of seeing large coveys of quail wander through our front or back yards. One morning, the Gambel's quail were jumping up and over a small wall we have around the yard, so they were easy to count. That morning we had 18 come through. When the birds are scurrying around under a piñon tree or coming up on the front patio to eat the birdseed dropped by other birds from a feeder, they are quite difficult to count. But how I love seeing the colorful males and only slightly less gaudy females. The colors are not bright, but a beautiful juxtaposition of hues one might not think went well together. Perhaps it's the jaunty topknots that make the quail so lovely to watch.
We've had deer snack on our potted outdoor plants too frequently, so a couple of years ago, a friend mentioned a Hav-a-Heart Spray Away as an alternative to other preventions. The contraption, which has a light sensor, is connected to a water hose. When the beam of light is broken by a critter, a branch blowing in the wind or yes, me, the device sends out a sharp blast of water. Friends have also fallen prey to the blast of water.
Not too long ago, my husband spotted a deer wandering up to the plants. The sprayer had not yet activated, but when it did, the doe fled. So we know it works. I don't know if the deer figure it out and get used to it, but this year most of the plants have remained unscathed. Well, not all of them. A marigold plant, which grew unexpectedly from a seed in a large planter has merrily bloomed its yellow blossoms this year. It's just behind the sprayer, so the blast of water does not protect the plant, and one day we came home to see that the leaves had been nibbled down. The plant rallied and has bloomed most happily ever since.
We had another pot, which was empty, all of a sudden start growing a portulaca, which we've had in the past, but we planted nothing this year. The moss rose, as I grew up hearing it called, bloomed happily, too, although since the sun as moved southward, it's not getting as much light as it would like, so it's beginning to fade. But that's OK, it's autumn and time for plants to start dying or going dormant.
I'm saving the marigold seeds, and I'll try to collect the fuzzy portulaca ones, too, for next year.
Enjoy my favorite time of year, the beautiful fall days that come before the cold ones of winter.
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May your musings bring you beauty!