Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kudzu, Golden Aster & Carolina Locust

Kudzu. Unfortunately, we have our own personal patch of it at the top of our driveway. We try to kill it every winter by spraying with undiluted weed killer, but when we first moved here we also saw Copperheads up there, occasionally slithering out of the Kudzu to the road, to soak up the sun. You can see why we're not inclined to actually step into our kudzu patch. We only attack it from the edges, therefore it will never ever die.

Kudzu also grows in a few places along the edge of the pipeline, and in the heat of the summer the happy plants send long, tough vines across the path practically overnight - sometimes I swear I can see them moving, reminding me of the car-eating vines in the movie, Jumanji. The vines tripped me several times this year - until the day I finally remembered to take clippers with me on my walk. Heh heh.

This morning the pipeline kudzu seemed to be at rest, tired even, as if it knows the growing season is almost over. This speckled Kudzu leaf (above) glowed under the overcast sky. I sat beside it, and as I drew in my journal a cool breeze riffled through my hair. I thought about how terribly humid and hot it's been this summer. No refreshing breezes! Ok, not as hot as Texas, but hotter and more humid than usual for the piedmont of South Carolina. I can't bring myself to hike in the extreme heat, which also means extreme bug bites, especially when you sit on the ground, like i do. (I've got the bites to prove it.) This morning, though, it was 73 degrees. So nice!!!

As I drew, Blue Jays outnumbered all other birds in the trees around me. Jay! Jay! Jay! Jay! Back and forth they called and talked. Then I heard clucks, cackles, and screeches that sounded like a rusty hinge. I stopped drawing and looked behind me to see a huge flock of incoming birds! Silhouetted against the gray sky, they were flying into the trees and field all around me. Daisy's head swung back and forth as she watched them. Our new dog, Stewie (see below) is a male, and thus more aggressive towards critters, and he was antsy. It was clear he wanted to chase one. In the flock there were blackbirds, starlings, grackles, and probably cowbirds, although I couldn't pick one out of the crowd. These four species gather into flocks in the fall, for safety during winter roosting. Today they slowly flew in for about ten minutes, screeching and cackling all around, landing in every tree I could see and in the field. Then, suddenly, with a loud, low whoosh! I was watching as they flew off to their next resting spot. Cicadas were also on the fly then, one buzzed past my head, so my guess is the birds were munching on fresh cicadas in the trees.

It was exciting to be in the middle of the blackbirds, and to hear that powerful sound as they flew. When I stood to leave, I noticed a mid-sized box turtle about four feet behind me. Hot or not, I know I've been missing a lot by not coming out to draw every single day. But, oh well. I guess I'm a wimp. All I know is, for me, fall cannot come fast enough!


Meet Stewie, our recently adopted dog from FHGRR (Foothills Golden Retriever Rescue).

Stewie, Atticus, and Daisy

Stewie, free to run (probably) for the first time in his life, with Daisy on the early morning Pipeline


Grammie said...

Helen, I love this post. And I just saw a box turtle too. Silly thing was attempting to cross the road. I picked him up and put him back in the woods. BTW, have you considered asking John L. to come walk into your kudzu patch? He was with us on several snake catching adventures back in the day. Thinking he probably knows as much as David about copperheads. Just a thought. Also by the way, every time I come to your blog, the silly song we sang in Boone comes to my mind only with these words: "I said Helen (Helen, Helen, Helen Helen), make this a book (book, book, book book!) From your adoring fan, Bets

Elva Paulson said...

.... a wonderful description of your walk and beautiful drawings to go with it.

Helen said...

Thanks Betsy and Elva! It was nice to be out drawing again.