Ah, summer Saturdays. My weekly ritual is to have a quick breakfast, pop in my earbuds, fire up an audiobook, and walk to my local farmers market. It’s about a mile away, and although I’m usually pretty sweaty by the time I return, I enjoy the walk.
This week, though, I left a little later than usual because I was distracted by a very important duty: monitoring a fledgling! An adorable catbird baby was just hanging out by our laundry room downspout, a puffy grey ball peeping away while Mom watched nearby and frequently flew over to drop insects into the baby’s beak. I was a little concerned because although the baby looked nicely feathered and mature, she didn’t have tail feathers and was only hopping around, peeping piteously. And when I looked a little more closely, I saw a few ants crawling on her. :( This behavior is appropriate for fledglings; they often leave the nest before they can fully fly, so Mom monitors and feeds them while they finish learning. But this little one was worrying me a bit. I tried calling our local wildlife rehab center to get their input, but nobody picked up. Generally, it’s best to leave babies in the wild with Mom — they have a much better chance at survival, and rehabbers are so busy this time of year that you never want to take up their scant resources with cases they really shouldn’t have to deal with.
Steven was helping our neighbors/friends with a desk-building project, so I went over there to report on the bird’s status and express my concern. When I got back home just a few minutes later, my little friend was gone! So was Mom, who’d been staying nearby and monitoring (including angrily squawking at a female cardinal who crossed her path!). The funny thing was that I could still hear the baby’s peeping, and it seemed to be coming from the eaves, where I know a few birds have nests. So I figured all was well and headed off to the farmers market.
The market is small, but it gets the job done (I ignore the gross butcher stall). I frequent one particular produce stand and one fruit stand, although there’s also an Ethiopian stall with veg options and even a cookie stall with a vegan choice or two. I hit up my two regular stalls this week and came home with a respectable haul.
Although some of the veggies are packaged in plastic pint containers, I always switch to my reusable produce bags at the market. The vendors seem to appreciate it; they get to reuse the containers. (Though I did keep the mixed salad greens in their plastic bag; I don’t think they’d reuse a bag like that, so it’d go to waste anyway.) I’m particularly pleased with that bag of peaches and nectarines — I asked the fruit vendor whether they ever sell seconds, since those bruised, bumped, and otherwise visually imperfect fruits make just as good pies, crumbles, and jams. They sold me three pounds for $3, a respectable deal. I’m going to do the same in apple season so I can make applesauce. :)
I took advantage of the slightly cloudy weather when I got home from the market and did some weeding in my garden. Things are looking good out there! I pick a handful of various cherry tomatoes every other day, and the green beans are just as plentiful. The squashes and melons are flowering and some are fruiting, while my carrots are finally taking off. I have terrible luck with peppers every year, so this year my dad brought some seedlings when my parents visited in July. I transplanted them about three weeks ago, and they’re finally beginning to flower. Crossing my fingers they fruit, too!
After a good 45 minutes of weeding, pruning, and becoming a buffet for the mosquitoes that are going nuts this year, I realized I was in dire need of lunch and headed into make that most perfect of summer meals: a big ol’ salad with fresh veggies. I used mixed greens, a cucumber, a pepper, and a gorgeous heirloom tomato from the farmers market, then topped it with a super-simple dressing: lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a clove of garlic to infuse a little flavor. I also piled on some chickpeas and nutritional yeast. It was sublime. The tomato was just… *kisses fingers* (I also chopped up some radishes from my garden, but they were bitter and tough so I didn’t end up eating them.) Ugh, I love meals like this.
After lunch, Steven came back from his desk-building with an update on the fledgling: Our next-door neighbors’ kids had found the baby bird in their yard, and went to our desk-building-help friends (also vegans!) for advice. The kids left the baby near where they think the nest is located and have reported that Mom is still feeding the baby, so I’m crossing my fingers she just needs time and strength to start flying.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a shot of a female Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly who was enjoying the Joe Pye weed this afternoon. We have a big pollinator garden filled with native plants, so I’ve been trying to overcome my fear of bees by photographing the literally dozens of pollinators who feast on the mountain mint and Joe Pye this time of year. The butterflies are much easier to capture without giving me a panic attack, though! ;)