A Fox in the Blueberries and Other Garden Surprises

    When my wife returned from the garden the other day, somewhat breathless and empty-handed, she announced, “You’ll never believe what’s trapped in the blueberry enclosure.”

      “Don’t tell me that blankety-blank catbird found an opening in the netting again,” I spluttered, preparing to grab a rake to shoo it out.

      “A fox,” she replied.

      “I knew it!” I cried. I had noticed a day or two earlier the berry crop seemed less abundant, and also spotted animal poop on a path that looked as if some critter had been feasting on – well, you get the picture.

     Anyway, by the time I raced out to the garden the fox had escaped, which was good news since I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to extricate it.

    I spent the next hour or so in a vain search for a slit in the netting that the fox could have slipped through, and reflected that its reputation for wiliness is well-deserved.

     At least the fox wasn’t as dumb as the two warblers that somehow squeezed in a couple weeks earlier. I had been in a hurry, about to leave for a trip to Maine, when I made a last-minute check on the garden and discovered the interlopers.

    After muttering a few choice phrases I entered the enclosure, rake in hand, and left the door open.

     The hapless birds squawked and flapped crazily back and forth, flinging themselves repeatedly against the netting, while I chased them around with the rake.

      “Look! There’s the door!” I shouted, and even demonstrated its purpose by marching in and out several times.

    The dumb birds flew right past the opening about 47 times.

     Finally, one got the message and rocketed out, but the other continued to thrash around and get tangled in the netting. I couldn’t go off to Maine and leave it there; when I returned a week later the bushes would be bare and the warbler would be as big as an emu.

    After another 15 minutes of being chased, though, the warbler found a tiny slit – not the door, mind you – and flew off to join its mate. I hope the incident sufficiently terrorized them so they won’t try to break into the blueberries again, but that’s probably asking too much.

    Animals aren’t the other uninvited guests to intrude in the garden – though I’m happy to report the 12-foot-tall deer fencing I toiled to install has been effective.

    Weeds, of course, are the scourge of any gardener, but not all plant invaders are unwelcome – namely, the “volunteer” vegetables that are delightful surprises from the compost heap.

    A couple weeks ago I saw a few mystery sprouts appear in the compost, and dutifully transplanted them to the garden. Soon, dozens more emerged, and I stuck them in the ground as well.

     At first I glumly thought they were nothing but zucchini. I stopped planting zucchini years ago because it’s not one of my favorite vegetables, and because everybody and his sister plants it so by late summer, when they grow to the size of baseball bats, you can’t give them away.

    The old joke is that in small towns the only time people lock their car doors is during the zucchini harvest.

     Anyway, my mystery plants continued to flourish, sending out long vines and large yellow flowers.

     Then, small green growths appeared at the base of the flowers, and I thought to myself – aha, watermelons!

     But no, a couple days later I could see more clearly what was growing: acorn squash!

     This is great news, since I love acorn squash, especially when baked with my homemade maple syrup. And unlike zucchini or tomatoes, they store well.

  I now have dozens growing, and I didn’t even have to buy the seeds – they came from the remnants of one single squash buried last year in my compost heap.

     If only the rest of gardening were that simple.

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

Reader Comments

MORE BLOGS

Just in Time for the Holidays: Fagin's Annual Gift Catalogue for the Discerning Outdoorsman and Outdoorswoman

How often does this happen to you: You’re merrily tearing through the woods in your four-wheeler and come to what looks like a shallow stream but turns out to be a deep, water-filled ditch, so your beloved machine sinks like a stone beneath...

Arduous Autumn

In spring we crawl out of our cocoons and celebrate bursting rejuvenation; in summer we play outside from dawn to dusk; during the dark, frigid winter we hunker down like hibernating bears – which leaves fall, when we try to set aside time...

Chain Saw? We Don't Need No Stinking Chain Saw…

So, did you hear that doctors have developed a new method of performing an appendectomy without using anesthesia? It’s exactly like the old operation, except it hurts like a son of a b.

You CAN Go Home Again: A Run Through My Old West Haven Stomping Grounds

Although for decades I’ve been living in a home surrounded by trees that is heated primarily by wood stoves, and I enjoy kayaking, mountain climbing, building stone walls, growing organic vegetables and many other active outdoor pursuits,...

Utah Rocks Part II: Kayaking Down The Colorado River

Propelled by a swift current on the Colorado River earlier this month, my son, Tom, and I gazed at red rock cliffs gleaming against an azure, near cloudless sky. The rustle of aspen and cottonwoods in a gentle breeze mingled with the rush of...

Utah Rocks: Adventures Among The Arches And The Rapids (Part I)

You know how it feels when you witness something so astonishingly exquisite and surreal it literally takes your breath away, and all you can do is gasp in amazement?

Oops. I Meant To Say, Whatever You Do, NEVER Try To Pose For A Selfie With Bear Cubs While Mama Grizzly Is Watching, And Other Corrections

• Alert readers have correctly pointed out a slight flaw in my instructions for the proper rock climbing command when you have unclipped from your rope. You should loudly announce, "Rappel off," not "On rappel."...

Use It Or Lose It: Trails Disappear If Nobody Hikes Them

Nature really hates a vacuum when it comes to paths.

Plunging Through Plum Gut And Bongo Sliding Through The Race In A Kayak: Maybe There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Fun

So a rabbi and a psychiatrist are kayaking in the ocean when a giant wave crashes over them and knocks the rabbi unconscious. The psychiatrist manages to pull the rabbi ashore, where he regains consciousness.

Once Again, Pink Gloves (Plus a Clever Signal) Help Save The Day At The Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon

"On your left!" Phil Warner shouted from the bow of a tandem kayak, racing toward a buoy during the paddle leg of last Sunday’s Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon in Lenox, Mass.

It's Swallow Time Again On The Connecticut River

Early Thursday evening was a magical time to paddle on the lower Connecticut River near Lyme.

Rocks In Their Heads Again: Another Bunch Of Idiots Knock Over An Ancient Stone Formation, This Time In Oregon

"Every now and again people do something so monumentally destructive, dimwitted and dishonorable it belongs in a class of disgracefulness normally reserved for trophy hunters ... It’s almost as if they wake up one morning and say to...