Thursday, October 06, 2011


Before we left for our trip to Bozeman, our tomato plants were bursting with what promised to be amazing brandywine and purple cherokee heirloom tomatoes. Not wanting them to go to waste, we told my mother-in-law to help herself when she came over to take care of Dakota. When we came home to gray skies and rain all our tomato vines looked sad and forlorn - empty of their end of summer bounty.

Going into that last week of September, the fig tree in the far left corner of our yard - which seems to be an incredibly late producer - was swollen with what promised to be an amazing harvest, if only they'd just get ripe. Like our tomatoes, when we came home the tree was decidedly less full, but not because my mother-in-law had made sure the lovely, ripe figs didn't go to waste. No, there was something more sinister at play.

As I sat watching the rain pound our backyard, I spied movement out of my eye. Movement at the far back left corner of the yard. Our tree was moving. Shaking. It looked like the Whomping Willow out there. Once the rain died down I went outside to investigate. Squirrels. Or rather one single, solitary incredibly fat squirrel was raiding our tree. He was huge - easily the size of a six month old kitten. He had a luxurious bushy brown coat. His head was as big as Dakota's (although that's not saying much since she has a little pea head under all that fur). And he was chomping away on an equally fat, deep aubergine fig. A fig that we could have eaten. He stared at me. And I stared back. He continued munching.

And then I ran inside the house and grabbed a bowl. Harvest time was on! I'd be damned if that fat little rascal (I actually love squirrels, btw) was going to reap the rewards of our patience all summer long while we watched that fig tree get fat with luscious fruit. Wouldn't you know it though, there were very few ripe figs available within my reach. Five to be exact. But there are more - many more - that are on the cusp of readiness.

And so everyday - regardless of the weather - I'm going to check that tree and I'm going to lay claim to those figs. I shall not be thwarted by a rodent. A beautiful rodent, yes, but a pea-headed rodent nonetheless.

Also, several of the branches were broken, snapped at the trunk. I'm not sure if it was the weight from the unripe figs - for there were hundreds - or the weight of that fat punk squirrel, or because of all the storms we've had, but the tree will definitely need to be cut back again to remove the broken limbs. 

While I was outside I decided I may as well harvest what was left of our tomatoes. Like last year, when it looked like the best of our harvest wasn't going to happen until late September, I planned to spend the weekend cooking up pot after pot of bolognese and marinara sauce to freeze for the winter. Those plans dashed, I thought maybe I might be able to salvage enough to at least make some roasted tomatoes to put in the fridge for snacking. Our cherry tomatoes, much to my surprise, were quite abundant. Most of the green zebras were beyond salvage. Our blood butchers are goners. Forget about the purple cherokee or brandywines. There is one brandywine, sitting ripe on the ground, gooey holes throughout, a testament to the hungry urban wildlife that has taken up camp in our backyard.

Yuck, it's time to bleach the grout - again. I hate these counter tops.
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Speaking of our backyard as a haven for animals ...

This past year our backyard has become the hangout zone for all the neighborhood cats. I assume these cats are owned by someone but that they're outdoor cats. One has a collar but the rest do not. They are here all day long, especially a large beautiful gray boy who watches me carefully anytime I make my way to the yard. At first he would high tail it out of there, but not so much anymore. Now that he's laid claim to the yard as his domain he just stares at me, as if I'm the intruder. He is especially fond of the area by the fig tree. It's been kind of cute to watch him sleep in the grass, changing positions throughout the day to catch the sun. 

I've kind of grown to love him just a little bit. I've thought of sending a note out to the neighborhood to find out if anyone owns him so that if he truly is a stray I can make sure he gets fed throughout the winter. But we're kind of on the outs with our neighbors over the whole "crime in the 'hood" issue so I'd rather not talk to them. 

But anyway, I digress ...

Today while trying to beat the squirrel to our figs I was walking through the area where the gray boy has spent most of his time. And then I saw it - cat shit ... everywhere. Giant piles of poo. And I was stepping in it. Disgusting. So now Gray Boy and I are on the outs. And by the size of those piles, I'm pretty sure he's well fed so I'm just going to go ahead and let him fend for himself. 

1 comment:


    Your tomatoes are gorgeous!


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