Monday, October 11, 2021

~ A Second Beyond Midnight on All Hallows' Eve ~

This will be my only post for October, so Halloween comes early
the garden provides the finish.

There once lived a cat whose lustrous coat of gold, silver and snow set it apart in a household of just greyish feline companions.  She preened herself in the sun of the huge bay window that she had claimed for herself in the morning hours of warming sunlight, and stole to her mistress's lap curled up tight the minute another feline was interested.

She was quite full of herself, but perhaps part of the blame lay on the doting affections their mistress lavished mostly on her and little on them.  The balance of equilibrium between the three began to wobble as the greyish ones grew older and wiser, and the narcissistic beauty was completely wrapped up in her own need to be the center of attention day and night.

As she laid curled against the back of her mistress in bed one night, her dream was being filled with beautiful butterflies flying around her singing please eat me, eat me first as she licked her luxurious fur as if it was all her little life was about.  As the alarm clock clicked one second beyond midnight, it stopped and a dark owl swooped in and perched beside her.

"Vamoose dark spirit, I have not granted you access into my gone!"  Her dream was once more a lovely butterfly meadow with little bunnies lined up in a row to be dinner.

The dark owl circled around her and would have landed on top of her with crushing talons if she hadn't looked up and fled for her life.  "What have you done mad spirit?  This is my dream, and you do not belong in it!" 

"I've been summoned by the greyish ones, and since their dream includes you, it was expedient to combine the two dreams, delectable one.  Please cooperate, as I am late, I am late for a very important date."
"What the...that's Alice in Wonderland, you duffous!"  She lunged with too furious of a hiss for such a demure creature and sliced her claws right across the spirits left eye.  He was gone.

She laid under a blush rose bush with a convenient tangle of thorny stems above her for shelter.  The butterflies had flitted away, the bunnies were nowhere to be found, and as the pale blue sky above her began to darken with an immense cluster of black clouds, the owl landed on her rock with a patch over his right eye.

"Shouldn't the patch be over your left eye?"  She wondered out loud.

"This is a dream.  Anything can happen."

She backed further under the rose bush and pondered his words for a bit.  "Oh, mighty spirit, what if I sold you my soul to be collected in my old age to be yours forever more?"

"And what would you wish for this exchange, my little nugget of deliciousness?"

"That you snack on the greyish ones in their young age, my gigantic lug of a grunge."

"I already made that bargain with the greyish ones to eat you now and collect their souls in old age.  I'm not really that hungry, so their bargain seems more desirous, my tasty treat."

"Hmmm, perhaps you would like to marry me and have me forever, you great big hunk of owlness!"

"An owl and a calico...whatever would we do as companions, you daffy little morsel of tender delight?"

"Do owls growl?"

"That's my hungry stomach, my little lunch to go."

"Just imagine a beauty of a feline at your beck and call providing you with freshly killed robins day in and day out.  I'll preen you as beautiful as me, and you'll be the envy of all that is in heaven and on the earth."  She purred with that alluring look that sucked him right in to her world of dominatrix with her beautiful glossy fur laying gently on the ground as she stretched out to show off her great form.  He was lost in her hypnotic gaze and would haver promised her anything, and he did.

Now you may think this the end of the tale and the two greyish souls that languished as afterthoughts, but it isn't.  This little narcissistic spitfire had no desire to be joined at the hip to a creature that would always look at her through the eyes of a killer of meat her own size.  She just wished to awaken from her dream and call it a bad night, and that she managed to do when the bargaining was done.

Perhaps a week later, or maybe a month, the teller of this tale no longer remembers, a majestic long scream and the beating of wings at the front door caused the mistress of the house to peek out the side window and catch a glimpse of gigantic feathers flapping wildly about on a mission to carry out the bargains made.  She grabbed a broom, flung the door wide open, and gave that spirit of bad dreams such a thrashing he limped off to tend to his miserable wounds before flying away to never touch those door steps again.

Miss Narcissus' little tootsies never touched those steps again either, for fear of her betrothed circling the skies above, and pouncing onto her for a delectable cuddle.  As for the two greyish ones, she settled on a bargain to teach her narcissistic ways to them, but she knew they would never be as perfect as she.  And although she agreed to share her mistress's lap time as well, she was a hoggish little stinker and usually forgot her promises.

Perhaps she might benefit at being a bit more wary of disappointed felines and bad dreams with a punch, but I'm sure she'll be bargaining once again with a disgruntled spirit down the road in a second beyond midnight dream.  After all, to narcissistic cats, promises are but words, and words but wind, but aren't they just the cutest little wads of fur when purring in ones lap?

Deciding not to spy for little beings that might not be there, with a sigh, I stop just to listen.  The thunderstorms have left a sprinkling of broken old ash tree branches here and there, and the freshly fallen leaves of the male persimmon tree seem plastered like glue to ground and my shoe soles.  A gust of wind sends a rush of more loose leaves to the ground, and that lovely persimmon tree stands almost naked while the others are still properly attired.

What to write...

Spicebush leaves yellowing in autumn

Blackhaw Viburnum leaves in autumn turning from green to red to black

Red Winterberry berries and Swamp Sunflower

Right:  Fructicose Lichen with bushy growth
Left:  Foliose Lichen with leaf like lobes
An alga and a fungus living together as symbionts called Lichens.
The alga photosynthesizes, providing energy,
and the fungus obtains water and minerals, 
and protects the algal cells from desiccation.
Polluted air kills them, so they are an indicator of a healthy environment.
They are also an indicator that my white ash tree is in it's declining period.

Hibiscus moscheutos (Swamp Mallow) gold autumn leaf

White Ash Tree fallen seeds and empty Black Walnut shells left by squirrel 

We seem destined to die with garden tools gripped in our hands, as the gardens reach thirty years old.  Instead of aging in grace, they are a slight disgrace...worn out, it would seem.  The two rather ratty looking, non-native hollies along the back fence  line were removed and replaced with winterberry, purple coneflower, and zizia aurea.

Three 'Hummingbird' Clethra dwarf shrubs out back have no fragrance when they bloom.  Such a disappointment.  They were replaced with two of the original Clethra alnifolia, in hopes my yard in the years to come will once again overflow with that intoxication fragrance of what some have described as honeysuckle, rose, clove, and heliotrope.  Whatever it is, it's a fragrance to die for.

Some type of Funnel Cap Mushroom
Somewhat flat at first, then flexing to a funnel shape later

In their funnel shape, they are 5" across, give or take

Rain splashed bits of soil and mulch onto the caps
which have turned into small ponds with snails.
I'm not sure if the snails can get back out.

Collection of Redbud Tree autumn leaves
in stages of gold, red, and mildew

The underside of a dead Gilled Bolete mushroom
with its gills that look a bit like sea sponge.

Whatever reason, the healthy Gilled Bolete mushrooms are melting.

Our female persimmon tree will sadly be cut down this fall, as we can no longer keep up with cleaning up all those ripe persimmons plopping to the ground and attracting flies as they rot.  It becomes a freaking mess...such a headache.  As a smaller tree, clean up was attainable without too much fuss.  Now...I'll just be glad when we have a quote for the cost.  The ratty non-native hollies under it were removed also, leaving a rather bare lonely landscape.

I suppose I'll always have that urge to plant just one more plant before winter settles in, right up to that moment when winter settles in.  On the porch waits six aster 'Patens' and two blue lobelias for what's beginning to become forever for the rains to stop long enough to dig eight little holes.  Usually our autumn weather is drawn out into November, but if the first frost comes in late October, then turned-over buckets are used to cover their heads on frost nights.  Being native, they aren't fussy.

Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum autumn leaves (red) on aromatic asters

Potter Wasp (Eumenes fraternus)

The female builds a miniature pot out of mud on a plant stem,
stuffs it with a live paralyzed caterpillar,
and lays an egg on the meal.  The developing larva eats on this,
while the adult wasp feeds primarily on nectar.


Carpenter Bees

Blue-green Sweat Bee

The clouds have thinned out, the sun is shining, and I'm contemplating, if I really want to wade into that sea of aromatic asters covered in honeybees to snap a few shots of those no time to pose little buggers.  I've done it before, and it's a bit tense deciding when to part the bushes and walk back out through the bees.

I think I'll do dinner instead with Applegate chicken and maple sausages, and lovely asparagus, sitting in olive oil to roast in the oven.  A cup of English breakfast tea in the evening will complement it nicely.  I hope this post has been a fun bit of witty humor for you, and that on All Hallows' Eve your dreams will have nothing to do with a ghoul, a goblin, or a demonic owl.

Swamp Sunflower

Inchworm - caterpillars of the
Eupithecis miserulata species of moths 

Lacewing larva with its weird looking protection cover
 of plant bits and  dead carcass bits from food eaten.  
Bits of pollen stamen are attached to it also.
Inchworms are a good food source for it.  

Small bumblebee


  1. Very interesting post theme Yvonne! Amazing how you are able to collect so much material on a topic! Keep it up!

  2. Hello Yvonne,
    You have a great collection of Halloween images, is it one of your favorite holidays. My son loves decorating his place for Halloween. Pretty garden captures, I like the Asters and Swamp Sunflowers. Take care, enjoy your day! Have a happy new week!

    1. I love writing about Halloween, but Vic is the one who love's trick or treaters. I just turn off the porch light and watch a movie, if I'm by myself. The swamp sunflowers really give a glow to autumn.

  3. You put a lot into one post, Yvonne. Stuff to make us smile, grimace, laugh, learn and be amused. Thanks for including some fungi. They are the stars of the forest floor at this time of year. Halloween has been a little muted for us the past couple of years. There are hardly any kids on our street any more, and COVID interferes with the hijinks too. Today is Thanksgiving Monday in Canada. Lots still to do for those who are coming here to eat too much!

    1. I think that's part of the holiday fun...eating too much. Today is gorgeous here, I hope it is there also. Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. ...every day is a bad hair day for me.

    1. I say the same thing every time I crawl out of bed in the morning, and look in the mirror :(

  5. Aren't cats wonderful!?! You've found some marvelous Halloween images for this post and I stole a few of them, thanks! Have a great October!

  6. WOW!
    What a super post, thank you.

    Enjoy this month of October.

    All the best Jan

  7. Your story is just wonderful, Yvonne. Perfect for the season -- or for any time! And I loved all your graphics with it. The garden is still looking good. It sure is hard work putting it to bed, isn't it? I've not even been home enough to start but must get on it pronto!

  8. Gorgeous flowers and other finds in the garden!

    Thanks for sharing your link at My Corner of the World this week!

  9. Loved the exhaustive post. Have a wonderful October!

    My latest post:

  10. Hello Yvonne,
    Love all the Halloween images. We do not see any trick or treaters here, the houses too far apart, no sidewalks or street lights. Your garden is beautiful, I love the fungi and the flowers. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend!

  11. Hello,:=) Your post was a gem of knowledge, fun, and beautiful garden images. I am interested in the Lichen on the tree. many of my trees have lichen,...some are over a hundred years old. I was told it was indicative that the air is pure where we live, but I fear we may be losing them.

  12. That was quite a Halloween story Yvonne. Alfred Hitchcock eat your heart out. And the Potter Wasp has an interesting life too. I’m not sure I will sleep tonight.

  13. I love everything Halloween...And cats!! What a glorious (and haunting take of the season). Beautiful wildflowers!! Thanks for visiting today. Otherwise I would have missed this. Come back anytime.

    Happy October.

  14. The scary Halloween it turned to flowers, lov e it.

  15. Have a great month of October. Love your post!

  16. Great blog.
    The flowers are beautiful.
    Greetings Irma

  17. Happy October! Treats looks tempting. That is a great Halloween story. Enjoy your Halloween. We don't celebrate Halloween here. Some shopping malls will put up Halloween decoration but this year we have not been out visiting malls.

  18. Awesome and very creative post for October ~ Wow! Xo

    Living in the moment,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  19. I always like to accompany you through the garden and see through your eyes what you've discovered, like this lacewing larva ...
    Wow, you have trained eyes!
    Entertaining and very beautiful, I think the little cat dream story and the Halloween pictures are just great.
    I wish you a sunny October and a happy Halloween!

  20. Great pictures! I hope that dream doesn't enter mine!

  21. Dearest Yvonne,
    were you inspired by your own four-legged friends for this cat story? In any case, my cat Nina could well have been a role model for the narcissistic cat. Nina is black (as it should be for a real witch cat), but I think she is also very confident of herself. And yes, I also find Nina the cutest little wad of fur when purring in my lap :-) You make fascinating discoveries in your garden - the small mushroom ponds with snails, the lacewing larva etc. How nice that your asters are like that are well attended by bees!
    Yes, a garden that is 30 years old is a lot of work and is not always a "perfect beauty" - but it is like with older people: the stories this garden has to tell are better than those of young gardens!
    Wishing you a good week - and happy Halloween!
    Hugs, Traude

    1. You're always so kind with me :) I do try to get into the inside of a cat's or dog's head to think or talk as a pet would, but the personality I chose definitely comes from one of my pets. I give them the slight characteristic of thinking a bit more like humans to make their conversations more witty. Of course, Miss Narcissist for me is my calico Lacey. I'm sure that was an easy guess. Your cat Nina is so fortunate to have your lap to curl up in.


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