another autumn day

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

Here I am in a characteristic pose. I’m wondering what the guy I live with is thinking. Usually it isn’t much.14102201Here I am in another characteristic pose, which I think is just as good. Slightly out of focus, gazing off into the distance, pondering the imponderables. That sort of thing.14102202I’ve been feeling pretty good lately, I guess, and now have a live-in chef, which is extremely excellent. I’ve lost ten pounds, too. The guy I live with is happy about that.

I do get poked and prodded kind of a lot, and have to take pain pills, for arthritis I think, which the guy I live with smears olive oil on, and sticks down my throat, so I won’t taste them. The olive oil turns out to be high-quality olive oil, the kind you can drizzle on things that are supposed to have oil drizzled on them, and it’s really good.

Things are quite autumnal around here. I’ll show you.14102203


14102205Leaves have been falling all over the place. The guy I live with told me that that’s why another name for autumn is “fall”. You can see some of them here. (The reason there’s a line of them is that there was a hose there, and it got moved. Isn’t that interesting? I noticed that the blue pot is leaning, too, and maybe someone will write themselves a note to get the pot leveled.) The other day, the house was filled with leaves, and the guy I live with vacuumed them all up, and then we tracked in more leaves, which was excellent.

We have crocus and cyclamen, still, and I’m supposed to show some of those, too.

Crocus robertianus

Crocus robertianus

Crocus boryi

Crocus boryi

I can’t say that I see what all the fuss is, here, but the crocuses make him all excited and in a good mood, at least for a while, so I guess that’s okay.

These cyclamen ultimately came from Tile Barn Nursery in the U.K. Which is why they’re named like that.

Cyclamen mirabile 'Tire Barn Nicholas'

Cyclamen mirabile ‘Tire Barn Nicholas’

Cyclamen mirabile 'Tile Barn Anne'

Cyclamen mirabile ‘Tile Barn Anne’

The guy I live with said we might go to England and he would wear a really big overcoat with lots of pockets and that when we went through customs, he would look as innocent as possible, all the while drawing as much attention as possible to me, which of course would be very good indeed. And we speak the language, too.

The pace of life around here is pretty slow, which is how we like it. The guy I live with got his hair cut a while ago; that was awfully exciting. He even put the trash out last night so I didn’t have to get up at 6:45 this morning. I got up at 10:15, instead.

I guess that’s really all I have for today.14102101


Until next time, then.


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18 Responses to another autumn day

  1. Tracey says:

    Chess, I suspect that you are actually gazing at the guy sauteeing you a salmon steak. You do look amazing. You are lucky to be living in such a lovely fall area.

    My library planted 600 bulbs last weekend and I have been inspired to plan a fall crocus planting event next year. I will think of you as I dig.

    • paridevita says:

      Oh, a salmon steak sounds excellent. I had beef, which was braised, and then vegetables added later. The lima beans could have been left out. And Lundberg mixed rice, which is really good. The guy I live with thought rice was bad for dogs, but it turns out not to be, and the mixed is really, really good. Brown and wild and things like that. We don’t have much red fall color, but there are some oaks in Denver, which no one ever notices until they turn red. And some aspen do turn red, but there’s some weird thing with them, like if you dug one up, which is sometimes legal, it wouldn’t be red in your garden, and sometimes it has to do with the weather, or the soil. Fall crocuses are very nice. The guy I live with says to get Crocus speciosus, which are inexpensive and readily available. Saffron crocus, Crocus sativus, is available too, but it doesn’t always flower right in the garden. Sometimes people call colchicums autumn crocus or meadow saffron, but they are neither of those things, and extremely poisonous. My mommy painted a picture of Crocus speciosus which hung in the Smithsonian for a while. (Really and truly.) They seed all over the place, too.

  2. Oh, your garden looks gorgeous and golden, Chess, and it looks the sort of day for a good wander. Crocus robertianus is taken in a beautiful light, and I like Crocus boryi too. I think I might be becoming fond of crocus; maybe it’s close to brainwashing, do you think? Your mommy’s Crocus speciosus is indeed Smithsonian worthy. What’s with those crazy Washington folk that it is still not hanging upon their walls? And another question, maybe you can ask the guy you live with: whatever became of the cuddle puppy next door? A wonderful-looking dog, but you yourself, Chess must be king and ruler of the neighborhood. In all your photos today you look completely huggable, in both thinking and observing-from-your-fort postures. I like to think of you eating beef with mixed rice. Of course, I like to think of me eating it too.
    Leaving now to find some caviar —

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; it is pretty golden, for now. The crocus painting was part of a Guild of Natural Science Illustrators exhibit, temporary, which is why the watercolor is at home now. But the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie-Mellon University, has 12 or 13 of my mommy’s watercolors. The cuddle puppy turned into someone who barks at me, and is scary. Actually he just runs around with my arch-enemy Lola, who’s a little dog. Even though I feel I rule the neighborhood, and tell everyone that I’m going on my walk, she still barks at me a lot. The beef was really good. I remember one time, when the guy I live with made blinis with his blini pan, and he and my mommy had blinis with caviar and sour cream and chopped hard-boiled egg and chopped onion and melted butter out on the patio, with champagne. He says that’s the way you eat caviar. I forget if I and my buddy Slipper got some. My mommy would have snuck us some, minus the onion of course, under the table. The only trouble with a blini pan is that it just makes one at a time, though there are three-blini pans, too. (They make three at a time.) I get distracted by food now, like I did before I was sick.

  3. Vivian says:

    Fall looks very good in your backyard, dear dog. Here on the shore of the Long Island Sound oak trees rarely turn red: they just go paper-bag brown and the leaves hang on all Winter. It’s a very unattractive sight on a grey day, trees full of trashy-looking scrap bits of sack paper. Fall of the Leaves, I read, is the etymology the Pilgrims brought with them, because they were from some hick county in England that didn’t use the high class Norman-ish word Autumn.

    Wow. Beautiful Crocus speciosus painting, just beautiful. Pittsburgh is only a 7-hour drive away… I remember, Chess, that you said your mommy preferred to work with colored pencils and taught herself watercolor just as a favor for a certain author of a certain book on pentstemons, which was a fair deal considering she got home-catered caviar blini dinners and champagne in return; if those crocuses are watercolor then I have to see how she used the white of the watercolor paper as an element in the illustration. I’m sure that’s why her flower paintings glow.

    Ten pounds lighter! Congratulations, dear pup! My vet said one of my cats has to lose ten pounds and putting a cat on a diet is a terrible, terrible thing. She’s supposed to lose one pound a month and so far, after six weeks, she’s lost 0 pounds, but maybe my home scale is wonky. We are getting weighed at the vet’s tomorrow.

    I agree with your fan in California — you are the once and only king of the Way Back and Environs. You are Jupiter, and the rest of the pack are Shoemaker-Levy comets in your orbit.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; well, the guy I live with said that not eating for so long may have contributed to the weight loss. I just had mixed rice and braised beef for breakfast. The guy I live with is also on a diet, and had lost 0 pounds. (“Zero is a number”, he would say, having watched The Simpsons with my mommy for so long.)
      The crocus drawing is here at home, but there are others at the Hunt. I don’t think they’re on display because there are 29K plus accessions, but we do know hers are the only ones in watercolor pencil, and she was super extra really ticked off with the guy I live with when he signed the contract for the penstemon book and said she would do watercolors when she’d never done any before in her life. (“You can do it”, he said.)
      There are oaks that turn paper-bag brown (great image); forget which ones. Check out The Complete Shade Gardener by George Schenk for which ones, and also for writing that will make you cry. (His book Moss Gardening is equally wonderful.)

  4. Nancy says:

    Dear guy that lives with Chess, (oops- almost wrote Cheese)
    Thank you for letting your pup keep us up to date on the life and times of your blessed plot. Living in the far north, zone 3, we are now past all delightful leaf dropping and have entered what I like to think of as “The Time of the Tamarack.”
    They glow with deep golden satisfaction against the backdrop of their spruce neighbors. Deciduous conifers. Go figure.
    Until yesterday, when I began perusing garden blogs to see just what they might have to offer, I was unaware that there were fall blooming crocuses. Can you believe it? Where do I begin?
    Leo, aka Marmaduke, our 85 pound golden retriever who can rest his head on the dining room table, sends his well wishes to Chess and wonders why he doesn’t have his own personal chef. (Might be because he ate my vintage Pendalton.)

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; the guy I live with has seen tamaracks. He and my mommy went on their honeymoon to the North Shore (you know, Lake Superior), and the water in creeks and rivers was brown from the tannin from tamaracks. She was from Minnesota.
      Then they went to Ottawa, and there were tamaracks there, and forests of arborvitae. And flags all over because it was close to Remembrance Day, or what we used to call Armistice Day, but now Veteran’s Day. The guy I live with remembers eating Italian pastries in Ottawa, and then an excellent Thai restaurant with exceptionally hot food. (I don’t like hot food, but my grandpa Flurry did.)
      Alas, fall-blooming crocuses would probably not like Zone 3….We’re more like 6 here, at least so the guy I live with says in his more delusional moments.
      I understand that I only get a personal chef until I start eating my regular food again. I know something that my personal chef doesn’t, though ….

  5. SusanITPH says:

    Chess is looking good after his relessening, which is what happens after a period of embiggenment. Any tips for keeping fall crocus from relessening? Because even when I dig them up and divide mine I keep having a relessening problem.

    • paridevita says:

      Interesting question, that. We think relessening is what crocuses do. Especially C. sativus. So you get corms which are, in theory, blooming size, and then they form zillions of cormlets which take forever to grow back to flowering size. Well, not forever, but a couple of years. Here, C. speciosus grows in what you might call “waves”. One autumn, a huge flowering, then after a couple of years, another huge flowering, partly because the cormlets have matured to corms, and partly because of re-seeding.
      Look here for other reasons (ie, virus) for re-lessening.

  6. Nancy says:

    Such sad news about the crocus zone limitations. I’ll have to search for another fall bloomer. Minnesota…yes, its the only place to be from. Headed to the north shore this weekend. I’ll throw a rock into the big lake in honor of your mommy and the guy you live with. They obviously shared a beautiful life.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; they stayed in a cottage in Little Marais, I think. Last week of September, when the oaks were turning, or had turned, and Lake Superior just like the ocean.

  7. Knicky Twigs says:

    Hah! Extremely excellent post! The yard looks wonderful, and so too do you, 10 pounds lighter. I think the British Isles in autumn would be wonderful with a heavy overcoat. Maybe the countryside or Cornish seaside where a purebred bordercollie can frolic.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; the guy I live with claims that we’re called “border collies” because we were bred on the border of Scotland and England, for herding sheep. The collie part comes from us being the color of coal, or at least partly. So we were the first. Ten pounds lighter, and with a live-in chef at my beck and call, who lets me sleep in every morning. ….

      • Knicky Twigs says:

        Most perfect 🙂

      • paridevita says:

        Indeed, it pretty much is. Except for the one thing, my life is about the way I would like it. Like for instance, today, Saturday, the guy I live with let me sleep in until 10:47. I got a couple of small pieces of pizza crust last night, because a pizza was ordered online, and brought to our house. The last time that happened, I didn’t want the pizza crusts, so things have changed.

  8. Adorable photos of Chess! The garden looks wonderful.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; the guy I live with says it’s so dry here, it’s dry. Have to make sure all the newly-planted plants and bulbs get plenty of water before winter sets in.

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