Coffee Share 200502: Life on the Edge of Suburbia

This is a Weekly Coffee Share Essay.
I’m part of a small group of bloggers who stay in touch and chat about blogging, writing, or just about anything else that might be of interest.
Link to This week’s full list
Link to my Story Blog:  Table of Contents.

[Yawn] — Oh! Excuse me. Good morning.  Keep your coat on, I have tea and coffee ready out on the patio.  Come on it and let’s get right to it.

It’s Saturday here, so if you’re visiting on Sunday, do kick back and enjoy a bit more of the first of 2 weekend days before returning to real life.  You are always welcome here.

Do you recall that this backyard before us is in northern California at the south end of the Sonoma County wine country?  We don’t have large cities nearby but we do have a few small to mid-size ones.

Our home is on the edge of an older and nicer neighborhoods that goes back to the days when developers would build neighborhoods with about a half acre to each home, thus we have this large back yard which was great when the kids were young.  Now, it’s just plain nice to wander around and nibble around the edge of work that needs to happen to maintain our growing things and slowly begin the process of disassembling the kid’s old play structure.  I need to give up the thought that anyone will ever want it.  The wood, which we loved 20 years ago is now too old to be attractive to parents who might want their own kids to have a great device to play on, but also wants them to survive the event.  The yard is mature but not meticulously maintained because we just don’t have the traffic that came with younger children any more.

Just beyond our yard are larger ranch-size acreage and thus we get visits from various critters.  This morning was active in critter encounters so I thought I’d share with you some notes from our ‘Edge’ of the neighborhood.  Here, grab that drink and follow me.

My day started early, as normal, before the sun was up.  My daughter had been startled the other day when she tried to grab something from the pantry shelves in the garage and was surprised by a rat.  When I walked out to heat up my tea water, she informed me, with that here-we-go-again tone of voice, because these critters are all too often straying in from the fields where living is harder (presumably) than nesting in our garage and feeding from our shelves.  So I set out the traps–again.  This morning, just 2 days later, my efforts were rewarded with one win for the homo sapien home team and a disappointment for the raucous rattus side.  I’ll spare you the shot of inside the trap but I promise, he looked at peace with his time out.dead rat

From there, I progressed back to the kitchen and while opening the kitchen drapes which overlook the backyard, I noticed the feral cat was back and he was very focused on a spot along our back fence.  Oh-no!  There is a fresh mound of dirt in front of him so the gophers must be back.  I’ve seen this particular felis catus capture a gopher and drag it over to our rosemary bush to quietly consume his prisoner from team geomyidae so I wished him luck just as he lunged and dug into the hidden hole.  But no joy for this round.  That rodent, as of this writing, is still out there.

The cat has wandered off to pout. There is likely going to be more traps in my future.

lizard blackI trust that old gato will be back, but I hope only when it’s very early and cold out, because with the summer sun and heat, the alligator lizards come out to assert their obvious ownership of the yard for their bug hunting hobby.  Currently, we have 5-7 members of team elgaria hunting and prowling around.  These guys are great to have about.  If you move slowly, they’ll tolerate you watching them and a few times, they’ve even been in the mood to scurry right up to me and look me over to make sure I understand who’s in charge here.

On a warm day when hunting bugs has been successful, I often find them swollen with bugs that I’m at peace with them having consumed, moving only a tad slower but very happy with their day.

Like I hinted at above.  I hope the feral cat doesn’t come back to take them on.  That cat would win every round.  Such is life in the food chain around here.

But on to our various plant life; first in will be, umm, yes; the plum tree.  The fruit for this season has already presented itself but I’m so bummed that this tree is not healthy. It is still struggling after two treatments of neem oil apparently did nothing to resolve it’s leaf curling.

plum tree 6 The most likely problem, according to domine google, is a certain aphid which is easily killed by neem oil, but no joy so far and I’m not willing to do anything chemically now because the limited fruit we will get is now forming.  It looks like another year of just enough fruit to appease the appetite of the harvester–most often me.plum tree 4

From here, you can see that we have mature redwood trees in each corner of our lot, but recently one died.  It’s not clear why, but a certain mold may be at least partially at fault.  Anyway, I had to pay a guy with a chainsaw and a bit of climbing acumen to drop the whole thing for disposal. So sad.

redwood tree gone

He did a great job of it but I was sad to lose that tree and am not sure having the stump as a souvenir really helps my wounded soul.

On the other hand, a nearby neighbor has a couple of wonderful ornamental cherry trees and, thanks to some bird no doubt, we have a volunteer in our yard which is begging me to replant it in a spot where both sunlight and the admiration of all who visit our yard will be in abundance.  Even as a sprout, this tree is already 6 feet tall but hard to distinguish in this photo.  I can’t wait to get it transplanted so it can grow and fill out.

cherry tree volunter

If you’ve followed me since last summer and fall, you’ll recall the spaghetti squash adventures.

Well, I saved the seeds of one of those Cucurbita pepos and they easily sprouted.  Last year, one plant (maybe two – I was never sure how many were in there) yielded something like 30 heavy pod-shaped fruit that kept well and tasted great.

Here’s what they look like and if you look close at the second photo you’ll see that the first two leaves are rounded in shape and one is badly torn up (by some bug who had to be dis-invited to the party by force) while the third and following ones have a more serrated edge and I suspect will be prickly like the mature leaves were on the plant from last year.  This was interesting to me.  Those first leaves must exaggerate photosynthesis somehow that allows for quicker growth for the more permanent leaves that follow.

spaghetti squash sprout 1

spaghetti squash sprout 2

Those first leaves must be really tasty for some type of bug because you should also be able to pick out the damage done.  There some sprouts that were so damaged so as to leave me doubting they will be able to produce those second phase of leaves.  I have a few that may yet pull it off, but much more slowly than the plants which I managed to protect.spaghetti squash sprout 3

spaghetti squash sprout 4

Our backyard lawn is anything but a lawn because we can’t afford the water or the public ridicule that would come with keeping a lawn alive these days so that green you see in the photo will soon dry out to dead clover and other weeds, so, I’ve decided to plant a couple of the spaghetti squash sprouts in a very sunny spot to have one wide, productive and pleasant to look at corner of what can no longer support a lawn.

yard holeLast year I learned that one of these plants needs a circle of ground about 30 feet in diameter.  Seriously, our living room isn’t that big.  No wonder it’s not popular with the gardeners with only a modest strip of a backyard to work with. Do you see that crater in the photo.  After I fill it with mulch, it will be the epicenter of my 2020 spaghetti squash effort.  It will be visible from space!

My mulch pile is pretty large now and I’ll all but fill that hole with the good stuff I know the squash plants love and will see if I can beat my harvest from last year.

Along one side of our yard is a type of plant I can’t identify but, thanks to the inspiration of one of our coffee share members, her professional grade camera and skills and the amazing camera built into my Samsung 7, I decided to capture and share with you one of the miniature marvels from our estate.  First, the full bloom below is about the size of an adult’s fist, but look what can be seen when I zoom in with the magnification app on my phone.

Look how much more there is to this simple hedge bloom when I zoom in.

I think these easily missed views are just amazing.  Would you happen to recognize this hedge and know it’s name?

Okay.  That’s all I have to share today.  Would you like to kick back, linger a while, refresh that drink, and enjoy some of the quiet, green, covid-19-free free air right at the edge of suburbia?



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Gary photo n bio

11 thoughts on “Coffee Share 200502: Life on the Edge of Suburbia

  1. I think your backyard is beautifully. When I get a place of my own I will invest in large, permanent raised beds, that will makes gardening both financially more feasible (water/soil/nourishment) and easier to take care of. I love looking at Pinterest getting ideas of possible options. It is smart to not pay for a green lawn. I was so surprised to find out that some would consider watering their lawn when I first moved to California. To me that doesn’t make any sense. I remember you spagetti squash! Bets of luck this year 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. YOu have some incredible nature playing out in your backyard. Looks like a place you can happily get lost in. Have a great week, Gary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Natalie. My wife and I like to quip that we bought the yard and the house just came with it. We wanted this kind of space for our home schooling the kids. We wanted a great and safe place for them to stretch out and grow. We weren’t in the place for more than 2 weeks when our 6 year old girl was climbing all the trees and once we caught her 50 some-odd feet up one of the large redwoods. That stunt cost most of the trees all the lower branches which cut of her access but saved our sanity.


  3. You do realise if they see it from space they will come and land in your back yard… I have seen that movie hahaha well have m tea and go see if I can spot any bits of the meteor shower.. I hear they will be bathing in the sky

    Liked by 1 person

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