– this another post from my regular weekly blog at Molino Creek Farm’s website.
A fleeting breath of the gentlest breeze brushes through the few remaining walnut leaves, so slight and brief as to barely rustle, plucking only one leaf to add to the fall. Then it is still again.
We inhale the moist air, walk on wet ground and change our clothes to the wavering between balmy and slightly chilly days. The air is thick with winter scent – the smell of fungus and fresh grass. The farm is becoming quieter with the shortening days and the winding down of harvest clamor. The still night silence is rarely broken and then mostly by startling echoes of owl hoots that soon abate – even the night birds are hushed.
The early, warm and ample rain sprouted millions of seeds, now a green blanket everywhere where just a month ago there was bare dirt or straggly dry dusty dead plants. This lush living cover muffles sounds like snowfall and allows my eyes to soften and relax, as I breathe easier for the cooler, cleaner air and the now distant fear of smoke and fire. We are all relaxing into the wet season, the down time.
The moon will soon be full- the bright nights might be adding to the stillness and quiet as critters hunker down in fear of being spotted by Great Horned Owl or Coyote. Great wings outstretched, the perched owls swoop in low arcs lit well by moonlight. Coyote is more frequently yapping and slinking around on the hunt.
The bright days have begun with fog here or below the farm. This late fall fog is not normal. Varied patterns of high clouds take turns with a clear cloudless sky. The sunsets have often been magnificent.
The cacophonous whistle, click and squeak of a sixty-strong (and growing!) mixed flock of blackbirds has grown into high entertainment. Like a mysterious whirlwind of blown leaves, the fluttering flock scatters 50 feet up and then settles again on the lush ground. They strut and chatter, shoulder-nudging one another or stab at things on the ground. Our attention is drawn to this great and complex social milieu – yellow eyed Brewer’s blackbirds and larger red-epauleted bi-colored blackbirds mixed and awaiting the arrival of some straggling very rare tri-colored blackbirds. The bustle moves across our farm fields; their departure returning the quiet and stillness as fast as their arrival had quickened our breath.
The 2-year-old vineyard is also showing that muted yellow fall color as the leaves slowly drop. There might be a few dozen apples left on the trees with leaves also quickly changing yellow. The orchard cover crop we sowed 2 weeks ago is two inches high, vetch unfurling tendrilly leaves, the oats poking up single thin-rolled leaves. The morning dewdrops hang on the tips of these sprouts well into the day.
One of the Farm’s greatest ironies…just when the cropping seems done – the citrus ripens! Our 6 Persian lime trees are hanging heavy with large green fruit, the spikey Lisbon lemon trees also are bearing. The navel oranges are further behind and less fruitful this year. The tangerines are far behind but growing quickly as are the Meyer lemon trees. Citrus Hill is filling in with the 20 trees we planted 4 years ago joining some larger, older plantings by Chuck and others.