Sunbathing in January

Cats loathe the rain. Conversely, they love the sun. Though our freakishly warm temps are anything *but* normal, they’re okay with it.  They’ve been sunbathing in the garden and generally loving life.

lindy in the sun

Winter shadows, summer temps

beijing in the sun

Beijing faces the sun

Squirrels have hunkered down in other parts of the country.  Not around here.  This little fella is soaking up some rays from the comfort of a neighboring pine tree.  I love the way he drapes his tail across his back for extra warmth.

squirrel in pine tree

Catching some rays

Apparently the spinner of this web is on walkabout.  All that sun went to her head.  Of course I didn’t linger long in-case she tapped me on the shoulder to prove me otherwise.

spider web

I wonder where she is?

What do cats, squirrels and spiders have in common?

Stealth mode.  They can hold completely still, then move at lightening speed when the mood (or the meal) strikes.  You can drop that little piece of trivia at your next cocktail party.

We’ve been so long without rain now that even the rain-haters are talking about it.  Meanwhile, critters everywhere are stocking up on Vitamin D.

Have a terrific weekend.  Wishing you seasonally appropriate weather in your special place in the world.

Is it Safe to Talk About the Weather?

white Camellia in the rain

Camellia in the rain

The presidential election in the United States is two weeks from tomorrow.

So…lets talk about the weather.  It’s the safest subject I know of, and one everyone can agree on.  If it’s raining, it’s raining; if it’s not, it’s not. Right?

If I were a political pundit, I might need to make the case that it rained “really hard this morning,” while my opponent might say “it was really just a trickle.”  Was it a shower or a downpour?  It all depends on who you ask.

Some may say “It was less than an inch,” while shaking their head in dismay.  Others will exclaim, “Wow…we got close to an inch of rain!” while grinning like a Cheshire cat.

A reporter might follow-up with, “Is global warming responsible for this erratic weather?”

“Global warming is likely the culprit,” says one party.

“Global warming is a myth,” rebuts the other.

I walked out my front door today and discovered a cool, wet and long-overdue fall morning. On that at least, the greenest party would agree.

rain drop on camellia

A raindrop clings to the tip of a leaf

rain drop on camellia

Look closely. What do you see?

White spider on camellia

Azalea in the rain

Azalea in the rain

Halloween Countdown

heat map pumpkin

Heat Map Pumpkins

Maple Musings

Close Up

Rain is in the forecast again this week, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up. As we come to the end of this La Niña year, experts predict one of the lowest rainfall seasons recorded for San Jose. Other than a few cold days here and there, it’s been a surprisingly mild winter as well. All this adds up to confusion in the garden.

Our beautiful maple tree generally starts dropping leaves in the fall, and after a few good storms, the branches remain bare till spring. Around March, the maple’s internal clock knows to send out buds and shoots and little fruit known as winged samara. In a matter of days the tree dresses in rich, red leaves.

This year, only a few leaves dropped. They turned brown on schedule, but without the rain or wind, the leaves remained. A friend asked if the tree was dead and who could blame her: such odd behavior for a deciduous tree.

It’s been a rough season for allergy sufferers as well. Early blooms from over-stressed trees wreak havoc on sinuses. In my California backyard, one lone maple provides color and shade, but states like Vermont have cause for concern. Trees need cold nights followed by warm days to produce maple syrup.  According to Tim Perkins, director of the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center:

“Sap flows best on warm, sunny days followed by nights that dip below freezing. The fluctuations are key: Cold nights contract air bubbles within the tree, producing suction that draws sap from the ground into the tree, where it mixes with sugar and freezes; warm days thaw the sap and expand the air bubbles, creating pressure that makes the sap flow into buckets or tubing, said Tim Perkins, director of the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center, who has studied climate change’s impact on the maple industry.

Perkins predicts that climate change over roughly the next hundred years will result in the loss of maple trees across much of New England, according to congressional testimony he offered in 2007.”

As I muse on our lone maple tree within our suburban setting, I’m intrigued at the parallels on a grander scale, and what it means for us all. I’m worried.

The Old and the New