Summers End

This is a very unusual picture.

It was the first day in a very long time that was clear of smoke. It didn’t last long, though, and this became the default view again quite quickly.

Smoky pond.

Despite this, the summer progressed. My garden started to get that jungly look.

The sunflowers (which the birds planted) became magnificent.

There was a hole in the bag when I seeded the kale and I had tons of it.

However, it was pretty badly eaten. I dried a bunch but had to examine each leaf for caterpillars and pupae. This particular leaf had 11 baby insects on it.

It is best to blanch kale; any remaining caterpillars would be killed. They dropped off but the pupae were harder to dislodge. Still, I read somewhere that silkworm silk is good for arthritis so maybe these cocoons work just as well. I have tried many methods to dry them but this works best, stringing them on the drying rack beside the stove.

Another chore I had to deal with was a yellow jacket nest. It was under a deep shelf in my greenhouse.

Friends and the internet advised me to deal with them in the dark. Place a plastic bag over them, cinch it tight at the top, and work the nest loose. Then dunk it in water. But the nest was too far under the shelf for me to reach. With bad knees and difficulty getting off the ground I would have been too vulnerable to crawl under there. I operate best in the morning and am generally up in the dark, even in summer. So I would tackle it then. That evening, however, the wasps became very agitated, buzzing loudly. No light in the greenhouse, but a flashlight in the morning showed that a big chunk had been torn out of the bottom of the nest. The insects were still agitated.

I dressed in a homemade hazard suit. Raingear duct taped at wrist and ankles (over gumboots), mosquito net over my face, and oven gloves on my hands. I have a powerful shop vacuum cleaner extended with a 2-metre bit of irrigation pipe that gives me a nice long reach. (Great for dealing with cobwebs on the ceiling.) So on went the vacuum and into the nest I poked the pipe. Got a lot of wasps and destroyed the nest. Fastened a plastic bag with a rubber band over the pipe. Did this several times over the next 2 days. As long as there were small scraps of nest remaining on the shelf, a few kept coming back. But finally I scrubbed off the last bit and had no more bother. I quite like the wasps. They cruise up and down my kale rows picking off the caterpillars. But I can’t afford to have them too close to my space.

There was now a distinct look of impending fall, brought on early due to the extreme dryness. Other parts of the Chilcotin had rain but we had virtually none.

The dogbane is always the first to turn yellow.

A few last flowers straggled along the road. The yellow is spike goldenrod.

Yarrow with goldenrod seedheads.

In a wet area there was a display of nodding beggarticks.

Smoky juniper.

One day we did get a bit of rain and the clouds cleared to reveal fresh snow on the mountains.

We started to have frosts.

But the smoke came back and the August supermoon was barely visible.

Mist mixed with the smoke in the morning.

And the smoke coloured the evening light orange.

The garden became full of migrating sparrows. Chipping on the left and white-crowned on the right.

They were pursued by a phalanx of hawks – this one a merlin.

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