an early start

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you the latest and most exciting news from our garden. You may remember me from such posts as “Then And Now” and “This And That”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. 14081301I’ve had two nice days in a row, with sun all day, and maybe I’ll have a third (it’s hard to tell right now), but it’s been so nice that I’ve even been able to sit out on the patio and watch the guy I live with putter in the garden. 14081304He potted up some Phlox longifolia for the rock garden sale next month. They look kind of ratty now, but that’s how they look at this time of year. In spring, and then later in autumn, they get all green and flower and stuff; we’ve even had them in flower in December here. 14081305Well, you know, the guy I live with is often pretty well out of it, in the morning, even after he has a couple of cups of coffee. He’s not a morning person, and neither am I, really. (He takes diuretics that make him dehydrated. I can’t take those because I have to save up everything for my walks, of course.) We had to get up super early this morning, so that the trash could be taken out. Trash Day is a very exciting day.

So, even after we came back from my morning walk, he was still fuzzy-brained, but had a glass of water, and then walked outside and yelled something like “My goodness gracious!”, though not really in those words. He ran to get the camera, and did a quick check of his pulse.

Now, the guy I live with is not afraid of snakes, at all, and neither was my mommy, but when you’re just walking in the garden, humming to yourself (like “deet dee deet dee dee”, you know), and all of sudden you come upon a snake “half as big as the back yard”, you kind of jump. The guy I live with wouldn’t let me see it, because I don’t like snakes at all, and wouldn’t want to know they’re in my back yard, waiting for me.

I’m not going to post any pictures of this, so people who don’t like snakes won’t have to see the pictures, but if you want to see them, they’re here and I think you’ll agree that is one big snake.

In other, non-slithering news, a box came in the mail, and that was almost as exciting to the guy I live with as the reptilian encounter. 14081302


14081303The box was from Mesa Garden, and that’s a four-dollar cactus you see there, which is why there are so many little bundles in the box. He’s been ordering from Mesa Garden for a very long time, but this order was something he’d been meaning to do for quite a while, and finally did it. He says those are “the funnest things of all”, and he’s probably right, though I do like to be spontaneous from time to time.

The cactus went into the new sand pile, though maybe temporarily.14081307I guess that’s it for today. I didn’t have to see the snake, and didn’t have to help plant cactus, so things are good. I really do prefer days where practically nothing at all happens, but today was almost practically nothing, and that’s okay, too.14081306


Until next time, then.

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14 Responses to an early start

  1. Susan ITPH says:

    Of course the snake was big. Look at the size of the mouse in the last photo!

    Now I must go buy some cactus.

    • paridevita says:

      It was definitely a big snake. Mesa is a very fun place to order from, and the catalog alone makes for excellent vicarious traveling, according to the guy I live with. One cool thing, he says, is that they take (even prefer) credit cards, and if they’re out of something, you just don’t get charged for that. Instead of “substitutes”, I mean.

  2. Vivian says:

    Yikes, that’s one big snake. I must be part pure bred border collie because I do not like snakes no matter what size, no way no how.

    Nice Chess photo, by the way! And the lounging bunny too — both oh so Miami Vice. A box of cacti…not so much.

    • paridevita says:

      No, I agree, they are icky. Smallish ones startle me, but the guy I live with, who says he’s always explaining things, says that they help keep down the populations of certain creatures. Without going into detail, he says, which is good, because I don’t like scary things. Boxes of cacti are scary, too, but the guy I live with says they’re excellent, because you plant them (the cacti, not the boxes) and they just grow, instead of gasping for water, like so many plant do.

  3. KathyB says:

    I had the same reaction (almost) last night when I saw a big spider on the wall before I turned in for the night! I hope that isn’t what it looks like to me, a rattlesnake. My sister lives in central Florida and is terrified that the python threat is moving north which it probably will since apparently these snakes are more adaptable that previously believed. They have the capacity to live around the gulf coast and north almost to Virginia. Scary! There are some benefits to living in a colder climate.

    • paridevita says:

      It was a bullsnake, and they kill rattlesnakes. Bullsnakes will fake like they’re all venomous and fierce, but then just strike with their mouth closed, hitting you with their nose. Big spiders, way different story here. The guy I live with learned from my mommy that they weren’t as scary as he thought (she liked them a lot), but when he saw a wolf spider with a body an inch and a half long, he “screamed like a girl”. My mommy caught it and kept it in a cage in what was then the spare bedroom, and fed it meat. Or something. The less the guy I live with knew about it, the better. It stayed over the winter, and then was let go. I guess it was able to fit through the back door okay; I mean it was big, but not that big.

  4. pamit says:

    That bullsnake’s a beauty! I haven’t seen one this year yet, except sadly, dead beside the road. Sure hope my neighbors didn’t mistake it for a rattler and kill it…which would also be a sin. –I could use a few in my yard as my three live rodent traps are working overtime. I think I’m establishing a colony over in Genesee 🙂 shhh

    • paridevita says:

      Illegal, too, to kill snakes in Colorado. Even rattlesnakes, unless they’re threatening house and home. Just hanging out, though, no. The thing is, according to the guy I live with, there are people in this neighborhood who kill snakes, regardless, which makes him ill, to think about.

  5. Tell the guy you live with, Chess, he needs a new neighborhood. I don’t think anyone around my place would kill snakes, but then I know hardly anyone. Of course, that is one HUGE snake. I have nightmares about encountering a snake like that. I think I can figure out why Snakie is so, um, *rotund*. I was filled with foreboding and heard “dum dum dum DUM” music as I contemplated the lazy bunny dazed by the sun. Your manor, Chess, is starting to look like a botanical garden. Tell the guy you live with he had an excellent idea with the sand pile. Also convey thanks for the hint to look up Camissonia’s Corner. So happy-making to see a flourishing native garden and be able to recognize it as local. Also, I have been eschewing some of those ceanothus and arctostapholus because I thought they’d overpower the yard — now they’re on the “buy” list for October’s native plant sale. Oh, another thing to tell the guy you live with, Chess: I admire the way he manages to be a volunteer and still stick at home. Neat trick. Neat photos of you today, too, Chess.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; well, we thought about the bunny, just lying in the shade there, but the huge snake was nowhere to be seen. It wandered through the garden and then disappeared. Which, if you think about it, is kind of scary. There was one equally large here last summer, or maybe the summer before that, and it spent some time in our garage. There’s, like, this ulterior motive with all the potting up of plants; donors get first round choice of plants, so it isn’t hugely altruistic like he makes it sound. The sand pile is fairly excellent, though the cages could be removed now. They protect little plants from rabbits, especially the baby bunnies who will sample everything. (The spray, Rabbit Stopper, seems to work, and smells like cinnamon.) Yeah, the California native shrubs are pretty breathtaking. A few are growing here, like the bitterbrush (native here too), and Penstemon centranthifolius. We tried the malacothamnus (fasciculatus and fremontii) but they didn’t understand that it was getting cold, and kept on growing, and then got a big surprise. Fasciculatus came back the next year, but was never the same again. It started to sprinkle and thunder this afternoon, so my day got kind of wrecked, but what can you do?

  6. Sharon says:

    Oh ya, a big Bull Snake! Haven’t seen one since my father in the 60’s caught one on the ‘home farm’ in south west Alberta, packed it in a box and drove it to Ontario. It was a kept in a cage in a Sporting Goods and Boat Store for several months as a conversation piece by the ‘boys’ that hung out there. One morning the cage door was found open, snake missing. Several weeks later a customer spotted something entwined in the inner garage door track or struts. Snake found, a little skinnier and promptly donated to a local Wildlife Centre!
    Yes, people here are still killing harmless Northern Water Snakes and Eastern Milk Snakes.
    Nice Cactus Hill! Got to make me one of those. Some of my Cacti from seed have outgrown their original homes.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; the cactus hill, the sandpile (half sand, half pea gravel), is a possibly temporary home for the cactus until, well, later. You would not believe how quickly plants grow in sand, especially if watered. Which they are, because it keeps raining here. But basically, thought you can see nice healthy root systems on the cactus in the box, the sandpile just helps them make even more roots. The yellow-bellied racer, whose picture was posted a little while ago, was pretty big, but not as big as the bullsnake, though, the guy I live with says there was a racer here one time that was about as big as today’s visitor. Funny story, my grandpa Flurry knew what the word “snake” meant, and he would go all looney looking for snakes all over the garden (not to kill them, just to find them), so eventually my mommy and the guy I live with referred to them as “cylindrical reptiles”…. Funny story about the bullsnake in Ontario. The guy I live with had a friend who kept a python in an apartment (100 percent true story), and one day the python escaped from its cage, and wasn’t seen for about a year. In an apartment. It was finally found, alive. I forget where he said it was found, but, oh, I’m getting a case of the creeps now. You would think, with all the farming influence in North America, that people would see snakes as good helpers (racers are also called “the farmer’s friend”), but, well, who knows why people do what they do, huh?

      • Knicky Twigs says:

        Spiders and snakes are, for the most part, beneficial “farmer’s” friends. Our neighbors teenage son “lost” a snake which my husband found in his new garage work cabinets. The cabinets had been installed for several weeks, and he had not yet organized them. Went to look in an upper, and was greeted by a very large but mostly harmless slumbering boa. Mostly harmless, instead of completely, because there the shock of that big boy could have caused a coronary! We told the kid and he came and gratefully retrieved the snake. Mom and dad never found out that it had escaped!

      • paridevita says:

        That sounds pretty scary, indeed. Before she met the guy I live with, my mommy had a pet tarantula, which escaped. She constantly said she wanted another one, which they guy I live with vetoed. (I think that was the only time he used his veto power in 27 years of marriage. But the Escape Story part of wanting a tarantula was scarcely what you would call a selling point.) The desire for a tarantula was partly remedied when they went to the Home and Garden show and the guy I live with was just wandering around, and suddenly saw my mommy standing there with a big golden tarantula climbing up her arm. “Isn’t she beautiful?” my mommy said. The guy I live with just looked away. This was one area in which they differed, considerably.

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