Fabulous fall

Today, as I write this column, I'm also trying to beat the freeze that's bound to happen one night very soon. When I woke up early this morning, our outdoor thermometer read 33 degrees and that's pretty cold. It's been a long growing season this year and we need to save whatever crops are still alive. That means our juicy red tomatoes, some green and red bell peppers, corn on the cob and green and purple grapes. There are also lots of Jerusalem artichokes " and in the ground, carrots and potatoes.

It's been a fabulous fall so far. You can feel it in the air and you can see it in the trees. We recently took a ride to Hope Valley and we were treated to some really splendid colorful trees. The High Sierra doesn't turn red like the New England states but the grand vistas of the gold and orange quaking aspen trees set the scene ablaze with the glowing colors. It makes you want to shout with joy, just to be alive and have these spectacular mountains right around your own backyard.

Another sign of fall's arrival might be the departure of all the hummingbirds in our yard. All summer long we've had about six to 10 of these fascinating little aviators hovering in line to get to our backyard feeders. At first we thought their diminishing numbers might be due to the big black ants. The pesky insects were climbing up the gazebo post and onto the feeders. I guess they also loved that sweet, sugar-water nectar that the hummingbirds craved. But we found a remedy that seems to discourage the ants. We smeared some Vaseline on the wire that the feeder hangs from. The ants climb up the gazebo post and then step onto the wire hanger and don't like it. The thick layer of petroleum jelly seems to be just too gooey for them.

The problem's been fixed now so we think the tiny birds have taken their annual winter migration south to warmer climes. Since they have excellent memories and can remember their food sources from previous years, we're hoping they'll be back to our yard again next year. "We'll keep the light on."

Bears in Fish Springs?

By this time last year we were seeing black bears all over Fish Springs. They were getting into residents' trash cans, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, pet food and even their homes. One neighbor reported a bear climbed up the wall of her house and pulled off the songbird feeder and demolished it. Another neighbor saw a mama bear with two cubs along with her.

I never actually saw the bear last fall but I heard one making big grunting sounds under our upstairs bedroom window. As soon as it was daylight my husband and I went outside and followed some big footprints to the trash cans that were dumped over. Next the bear tracks went over to the screened-in chicken coop. Wet footprints zig-zagged back and forth for about 20 feet and then there was a very large wet circle of about five gallons of urine. That's about all the excitement we had for the day.

Maybe we're not going to see any bears in Fish Springs this year. It's time for their winter hibernation and they need a lot of fat to last through it. So if these nuisance bears know where the food is, they may no longer be afraid of us, and that's when they become dangerous.

n Linda Monohan may be reached at 782-5802.


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