I hope the sunflowers’ faded and droopy blooms will produce some seeds before I have to remove what’s left of their stems and leaves, which look sad. There are also two volunteer tomatoes who came up late this year and are trying frantically to make up for lost time by producing flowers and fruits almost immediately. They are volunteers of the wonderful black Russian cherry tomatoes I have grown now for four years. This year none of the seeds I planted came up. We had an unusually cold spring, which probably was the cause of earlier tomato reluctance and failure. So these little guys are not getting huge, but they are faithfully making children and are welcome indeed. I’ll keep some seed from them for next year and try to get it into the soil in a more timely fashion. I hope there will be enough light and heat left this season for these fruits to ripen.
Plant life never fails to cheer me up. What did stop me in my tracks a week or so ago was a little dead bird on my pavement next to the patch of communal lawn (brown this dry year) between our building and the bordering hedge. On that afternoon, the day was very hot. The bird, which had a yellow body and small grey, white and black wings, lay on its back with its toes turned up. It was a quintessential dead bird, looking like the way a cartoonist would draw one. I didn’t notice any loose feathers, so I think it probably just fell out of the sky, or landed and then keeled over dead. A cat had not gotten to it. I looked down at it and up at the sky and then back down at it. I hoped it had died of age and not the heat.
This is the second dead bird I have found out on my patio in the past year. There are quite a lot of small birds that come around, so I guess it’s to be expected. I always feel sorry for them -- birds seem like little epitomes of life, especially when they’re on the wing, so it’s grievous to see them, still and lifeless on the ground.
I went inside and got a plastic bag and picked up the unfortunate, wrapping it in the bag and tying up the handles. When I was done with the hose, I took the bag out to the dumpster across the parking area from my place, and I gently tossed the bag into the trash. I guess at this time in my life, this must pass for what formerly would have been a little funeral with a matchbox coffin and appropriate prayers. Just like everything else, life must move on and change. Obsequies and other rites for birds get simplified. I suspect the same will be true for me when it’s my turn.
I recently visited my ex-sister-in-law's housewarming party on Vashon Island. I met a number of agreeable people who live near Marge’s new domicile. Everyone seemed pleasant and to be enjoying their residency on Vashon, which is charming, small and filled with all types of people. Main street is quaint with an overlay of crunchy granola new-aginess, but not cloyingly so.
At the party, I found the most interesting topic of conversation to me was the cougar that was found on the island and recently shot dead. It had been preying on neighborhood animals. When it killed and ate two donkeys and two llamas, local authorities decided that was enough, so they packed iron and went forth and hunted the big cat down.
I’m just as happy where I am not to have to worry about anything wilder than the local deer, although there are tales of mountain lions and bears spotted here in past years. The critteriest critters I’ve encountered up on the hilltop have been baby snakes. They go their way, and I go mine.