Ramble On

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Apples, Etc.

The height of summer, this weekend was one where we enjoyed watching all kinds of wildlife from the brick terrace at Hawksbill Cabin. The apple tree was dropping fruit all around, and the berries on the sweet gum tree must have been ripe, so we had plenty of birds and squirrels, along with this very brave doe who ventured up into the yard despite us being visible nearby up on the terrace.

I didn't expect to have any apples this year.  The tree is rangy after decades of neglect; it's still in bad shape after the snowpocalypse winter two years ago when we lost one of the twin trunks.  I've intended to get it pruned for a few years now, and we simply haven't found somebody to take care of this for us - we want to be sure the tree will survive a hard pruning so that we will have fruit again soon after.

Last year there was a storm during apple blossom season, so none of the fruit set.  This year, there didn't appear to be many blossoms, and I thought we'd lost the crop again - but there's plenty.

We're only seeing the one deer so far.  The heard that moves through the hollow is larger than this - last year Tessie and I watched five of them up in the yard one day, eating acorns.  The does usually have twins and there are usually a couple of families milling about.  From time to time we'll see the buck, but he usually stays hidden down in the brush near Beaver Run.

As for the other wildlife, we had our usually share of varmints - squirrels and hedgehogs, including one particularly clumsy squirrel who fell with a loud "plop" thirty feet or so out of one of the trees onto the road.  There were the usual jays and cardinals, and now that the weeds have gone to seed there are goldfinches in their bright plumage.

But the biggest delight of all were the pileated woodpeckers.  We know they're out there, and I catch them in flight passing the yard quite often.  But this weekend, they were after the berries on the sweet gum tree.  I was surprised to see three of them in the tree at once - I've always thought we only had a pair of them nearby.

They must be doing well back there in the hollow.  After all, between the acorns, apples, and other fruit and nut trees around, there is plenty for all the animals to eat. 

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