* To reach the rambling wild grape vines Ann had been fretting over all summer, I hadÂ to drop a couple of two-inch ironwood saplings that leaned out over Nameless Creek. Â Standing in the water, we filled a five gallon bucket with sweet-smelling black grapes but had to tie the dog on the bank. He doesn’t know grapes are forbidden fruit for dogs, and he dearly loves them. We made nine half-pints of jam from three pounds of grapes; there’s nothing like it.
*Â When we were done with the grapes, I stayed behind, leaning up against a cherry at the edge of the pasture. The call of a raven had stopped me in my tracks, and I used that as an excuse to take in the gray of a chilly fall day. Finally, high above the north ridge behind the house, I spotted the source of the RAWK-call, a ghost-bird flying lazy circles lifted by a steady wind from the south. The ceiling was so low that the black bird, through short segments of its arc of flight, went to gray, or disappeared entirely for a second or two. And from his perspective, so did I. Higher, riding the same kettle of rising warm air, a hawk; and barely skimming the tops of trees, a turkey vulture. Altogether, it was a good day for soaring.
*Â The black rat snake seems to have given up trying to get the hen eggs. i don’t know if it’s the white leghorn rooster that deters the serpent, or the sublethal thrashing I think Ann gave him the last time she found the snake in the nesting box with an egg in his mouth. But I expect to see him back next year, a few inches and a few ounces larger still.
*Â Yesterday, a half hour before what rain we’d get all day had commenced, I managed to till up a few of the empty patches of garden and sow some winter wheat as a ground cover. It will green up nicely before the frosts come, a fact hard to imagine this balmy morning when we had to open the windows to cool off the house.