This morning brought the first bowl full of strawberries. They are even sweeter than I remember. And so rewarding to grow - a couple weedings a season, one heavy application of compost, a liberal thinning of old plants to make room for new runners... We have one patch of berries that's about 6x6, and another strip under the espaliered apple and cherry trees that is maybe 2x24. That amount of space gives us June strawberries aplenty, til the mixing bowls runneth over... Most of the berries go in the chest freezer for winter smoothies. Last year's freezer berries held out until about a month ago.

Generally the baby bunnies, who prefer tender crunchy stems of berry clusters to actual berries, thin our crop for us. But they are absent this year, as is the Big Fat Woodchuck From Hell. And now I fear I've cursed us by typing that, and this is only the calm before the storm, and our small garden will soon be overrun with organized forces of armed vermin... Phooey.


Raining robins

Turdus americanus has exited the nest. Babies are plopping out of the sky and living up to their Latin by crapping on positively everything. One attempted a crash landing on the neighbor's chain link fence this morning, tumbling into the hostas below.

I found this little guy after a sweaty afternoon of weeding and setting out starts, when all of a sudden I really needed to go to the liquor store. In his dismay at my wanting to use the truck, he hurled himself, all parts akimbo, at each wall of the cap until he got it right on the fourth try and found the open window. Stub-tailed and just learning to steer... pretty cute.


The real dope on my poppies

This godforsaken orange poppy was, as the story goes, also loathed by my garden predecessor, Nelly. She spent all of her life in this house except for the first few years, and she lived to be 95 or so. In her latter years she enlisted her nephew's help around her home and garden. One of his tasks that I know about - besides wheeling pea coal in the back walk via battered antique baby carriage - was whacking down the Oriental poppies, to prevent Nelly from being arrested by the Feds... Apparently she thought her Oriental poppies were opium poppies, or perhaps she just thought the Feds wouldn't know any better, which likely they don't. In any case, Matt and I now grow enough opium poppies in the backyard to make Nelly roll over in her grave continuously throughout the month of July.

The reason I hate these screaming orange poppies is that they broil up out of the ground each spring and pour like molten lava all through my strawberry patch, and they're impossible to pull out. At least they're good lookin.


No hawk babies this year

After being away for a week, I walked to Connell Park to check on the hawk's nest. A soggy squirrel cowering on the edge didn't bode well, so I left the path to investigate under the tree. This is what I found, rearranged here for the sake of the picture. Lots of pale bluish-white egg scraps, and one embryo.

For some reason this didn't send me into a total crying fit. I guess I spent all my tears this morning, on the stupid oil spill.