Warmer weather brings out animals

Published 9:00 am Sunday, November 8, 2015

The burr oak in the back gardens only had a couple of acorns on it this year, so the squirrels will be looking for food. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

The burr oak in the back gardens only had a couple of acorns on it this year, so the squirrels will be looking for food. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

The weather in the November gardens brings the birds to the feeders looking for additional food. Unless you have left some of your flowers with seed heads standing, there isn’t much for the birds to find to eat. Most years I leave some of the rudbeckia, as well as the astilbe, for them to forage on. This year, with the exception of the front garden, I have cut all of the flowers down.

The sparrows and blackbirds have been scratching through the mulched leaves I put on all of the gardens looking for insects. All of my feeders are filled with new suet, peanuts, black oiled sunflower seeds and a woodland nut medley that really attracts the nuthatch, woodpeckers and chickadees.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

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My favorite bird at the feeders is a red-bellied woodpecker that I have named Big Red. He comes and goes all day long. Who else would name the birds that visit their feeders?

A few years ago I had Rudy, a male cardinal. He was so tame I could fill the feeder with him sitting on it until a cat in the neighborhood decided to have him for lunch.

My favorite magazine arrived the other day. Inside, an article about autumn weather folklore really caught my eye. Steve Gottschalk is a self-taught weather observer and student of weather folklore, according to the Our Iowa magazine. Some of the folklore he has written about includes, “Much rain in October, much wind in December; As the weather in October, so will it be in December.”

Our past month of October left us with no noticeable rain, so I wonder what December will be like, or if that means no snow in December.

Another bit of folklore he wrote about is, “Ice in November brings mud in December.” He also said, “As the weather is on Nov. 21, so will it be all winter.” So mark your calendar and write down what the weather is on that date.

Wednesday marks the 75th anniversary of the Armistice Day blizzard. The storm surprised hunters who were out on the lakes, making it nearly impossible to return to shore. Many lives were lost as well as livestock and crops that were still standing.

I have the book that was written about the storm, which is titled, “The Day All Hell Broke Loose.” It has lots of photos documenting the depth of the snow which covered trains that were trying to get through the storm.

How many of you remember the Halloween storm of 1991? My husband worked for the local utility company at the time. The call for him to go into work came at about 6 in the morning on Friday. It was late Sunday evening when he finally returned home. Our house was without electricity the entire time.

It is hard to believe my alyssum is still blooming. I just don’t have the heart to pull it out until it freezes.

The mums are under the overhang on the south side of the house, and they still look lovely if I remember to water them.

My eyes wander over to the front garden, which I have only partially cut down. The leaves on the hosta have turned many shades of yellow. The eastern white pine has lost the brown needles and they have fallen on the garden as mulch. I also found many pine cones that I brought in for the holidays to use as decorations.

Every garden has hydrangeas that add so much winter interest with their huge panicle blooms, which will stay on them until late winter when I cut them off. Now that the gardens are cut down, I can see the entire backyard and the profile of every garden. My oval garden in the center of the yard looks so small when there are no flowers in it. The bright green tuteur will add color to the barren gardens when they are covered with snow.

Since my garden chores are finished, I have been spending time walking through the gardens looking at the shape of the trees and shrubs and listening to the birds at the feeders. There are very few acorns on the oaks in our neighborhood this year, so the squirrels will be hungry.

“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.”  — John Burroughs


Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears weekly. Email her at carolhegellang@gmail.com.