As I fed Effie her daily fresh catnip leaves in Effieland this morning, I noticed a small handful of suddenly ripe blueberries that brought me joy and consolation nearly two weeks into the absence of any hint of blue in the sky or elsewhere. The smoke is predicted to clear tomorrow–we’ll see. Much-needed rain and westerly winds continue to elude the smokey valley.
I’ve picked all the blackberries, and Vic picks several large, full stems of Himrod (green) and Flame (dark pink) grapes every evening. We’re thankful we have plenty of water on tap to keep the fruits of the garden and the chickens hale.
We are also extremely thankful for the aerial and land firefighting crews in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. May God continue to sustain these wonderful people. I don’t know how the losses they have prevented can ever be calculated.
The lightning-generated forest fires across Montana, Idaho, and Washington continue to plague Eastern Washington where we live. The smoke today is worse than ever. The original morning designation was “hazardous for the sensitive,” and was quickly promoted to “hazardous.” The 3,200-foot-high, red-brown basalt hills normally in view, continue to blend with the light-cloud-grey sky.
I think a homeowner’s best defense is a garden. Our indoor-outdoor cat Effie has an enclosed garden, Effieland, filled with green ground cover, grape and berry vines, tall corn and sunflowers, and a few poplars. I think these plants displace the compromised air with oxygen. It smells fresh and green, and easy to breathe. I am happy I don’t have to leave home today.
Even the UV filters in my camera’s lens are unable to compensate for the smoke screen that whites out the basalt hills.
Effie loves her green domain, Effieland, and so do I. My husband created the fenced area just for Effie and our garden.
Looking out the window, I noticed two goldfinches perched on our bronze sunflowers. My husband’s camera has more competent telephoto capability than mine, and he took these shots through a window without a flash.
Lots of us call them foxtails, or cheatgrass. It’s also known as Downy brome and timothy. We take the little spears out of our socks. They snag our cats and dogs with their slender spear-like tips. If not removed, they can cause pain, and possibly an abscess that could become infected. Dogs’ ears are particularly vulnerable. It’s good spring forage for cattle and sheep. By summer it’s in its pernicious spear mode.
Downy brome grows all over Effieland, my cat Effie’s large enclosed garden area, safe from predators and raptors, with overhead wire fencing. I spend at least ten minutes combing the horrid little spears out of Effie’s fur, every time I bring her back in the house, usually at least six times in a day.
The weed is prolific and uncontrollable. Anything that kills it would kill everything in the garden. Weeds are well adapted. They grow among plants we don’t wish to kill.
I once accepted a dog from a fellow university student who was returning home to New York and was unable to bring the wonder dog who had followed her home that summer in California. She showed me the abscess in the dog’s shoulder and gave me money to cover the vet bill. I brought Jenny the dog to a vet who surgically removed every fragment of the foxtail that had lodged in Jenny’s shoulder. The vet urged caution, because the abscess could have festered and become chronically miserable, and foxtails grew everywhere in Santa Barbara. They’re also prolific where we now live, in the Eastern Washington prairie.
A spear of Downy brome
My beautiful Effie, groomed and spear-free after coming in from Effieland, where we grow five varieties of grapes, as well as raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries; we also grow sunflowers, lupines, flax, and poppies. And we are besieged with marauding Downy brome.
Sunflowers, poppies, flax, and a blue sky make Effieland a delightful place to spend time with Effie–though at 9:00 a.m. it was already 91°.
Poppies are ready to bloom in sunny Effieland.
Sunflowers will likely bloom in June.
Lupines are tall, and in four colors; one is pictured here.
Effie’s sweet face, the highlight of Effieland
These boughs are all on one bush. I’ve never seen another multi-color lilac, but there must be others; most categories in nature manifest the delightful trait of color diversity. Our other lilac bushes represent all the colors this tree has, but each bush has just one color bloom.