It was a sweltering hot day here in the PNW, our third in a row (with another week to come) and a total treat! At midday today pretty much everything (except humans, judging by the road noise) was down for an afternoon siesta. The cats ran out the door the first chance they got this morning; I try to keep them in, but they are enamored of the out-of-doors, and Madeline and Eloise seem to be dedicated to slowly working their way through the shrew population. I’ve discovered shrews are a little dopey when it comes to self-preservation, and when trapped they tend to roll over and kick instead of squirming and running away. It’s kind of cute, as they are fat and covered with a plush mole-like fur, but it’s not going to improve the population count, seeing as they aren’t much bigger than a quarter (25 cent piece). But even the cats are quiet now, all of them finding a shady spot to snooze the day away. Blackcap sleeps in the pot of thyme on the deck, underneath the now-full canopy of wisteria. The half of the pot that’s not completely shaded by the wisteria vine is overflowing with blooming thyme, and though I planted chives in the other half, they either failed to sprout or Blackcap’s habits crushed them as they sprouted. I’ll have to look for another spot for chives (front garden, after I fence it off from all the critters).
I made an omelette for breakfast this morning, though it turned into a frittata by the time I got done chopping vegetables. It was delicious and
filling and was basically all I ate all day. It’s too hot to cook, anyway, so it worked out fine. A lot of the veggies were locally grown, as the produce is coming in fast and thick now at the farmers market. It makes me feel bad that I’m so behind in my gardening. My pathetic, half planted garden is just sprouting, and I still haven’t planted my dozen or so squash plants in my squash patch (mostly pumpkin, but also zucchini, delicata (I get so tired of Word auto-correcting that word to ‘delicate’), some gourds and butternut). I planted some more potatoes late this evening, once the sun dipped behind the trees, and also repaired the damage from the @#!%&*ing! sheep. Pebbles and her goaty children (there was a time when I seriously wondered if Pebbles was a pygora goat and if I’d been duped by the person who sold her to me), Minnie and Fergus, leaped over the fence while I was inside the house for a short time and managed to prune two rows of bean seedlings and a bunch of my onion transplants, not to mention all the volunteer borage plants. They
trampled my beet spouts and ran through my sprouting lettuce patch too. And of course did a number on the fencing as they ran to get out (who knows how they got in, whether jumping or scrambling over). It frustrates the heck out of me as now all free-roam privileges are on hold. If they are out I will literally have to sit guard at the garden patch, and I don’t really have time for that.
If I were a morning person I could have gotten a lot more done out there if I’d started before 10:00 a.m. today, before the sun got high enough to create serious heat. But I’m not. Instead I brewed some tea and read a novel on the deck. It was a perfect morning for it and I was able to finish the book – The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle. It would probably be called ‘women’s fiction’ (but not chick lit or romance) if you wanted to fit it with a label or genre, and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s not often you read a novel that really gets the animals right (behaviors), and rarer still that the animals play a meaningful role in the lives of the humans (unless the book is about this issue precisely). This was a novel about human characters and their sometimes messy lives and relationships, and, without saying it, how the animals make our lives better. The title is the most overt, and pretty much the only, declaration of this throughout the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s the second novel I’ve read recently that has a female veterinarian as the lead character. The previous book, while enjoyable, was more of a chick lit book than this one.
At any rate, it was a lovely way to spend a sunny summer Sunday morning. My eyeballs hurt afterward, though. It’s the same kind of ache I used to get as a kid, when me and my little brother would wake up early on Saturday mornings to watch Saturday morning cartoons for a few hours. Our eyes would be fixed on the screen for so long that rotating them to look to the side or up would hurt, as the little eye muscles cramped in place. Evidently reading isn’t much exercise for the eye muscles either. Ow.
The bees were wild in the sun and heat, flying out in great spirals all day, and somehow not colliding even though there are so many that they look like they could use a tiny air traffic controller out there. An inspection would be a good idea, but that makes me wilt just thinking about it. It was way too hot to suit up in a bee jacket and veil, and to put on a full pair of pants instead of shorts. Since the Warre hive is the one that I really need to figure out, it’s all a moot point anyway, because I can’t get in there without totally destroying things (comb is attached to sides of hive, so there’s no way to lift out a bar of comb to inspect it without breaking everything apart). As I left for a grocery store run this afternoon I noticed a little cluster of bees on the back corner of the hive. I went out to look and it was a queen, kind of plump, with a dozen or so attendants. By the time I got home from the grocery an hour or so later, they were all gone. Into the hive, hopefully! She was just sitting there; I thought for a minute that maybe she came out because it was so hot in the hive (haha!), but the most likely scenario is that the hive swarmed at some point in the past few days when I wasn’t home, and this was perhaps a young queen readying for a maiden flight. The only reason I think this is most likely is because of that plumpness – most adult queens I’ve seen are sleeker, more slender than this one looked, so I’m guessing she was newly hatched. Also, there have been a ton of drones in the hive (peeking in the observation windows) recently as well as hundreds dead and dying drones around the hive. The hive was very testy today, so I wasn’t able to look in the window at all. We’ll see what the coming days tell us.