Monday, September 20, 2010

Misty rain, tomatoes and Chimney Swifts

The clouds piled up and lowered right down to the ground, and rain floated all around.  Driving into town, it looked as though the sky had fallen.  Oh no, I thought, the tomatoes will crack!  As soon as it cleared up, which it did right after my nap, I took my baskets out to pick the Heirlooms.  These yellow giants are called Lemon Oxheart.  Mine took forever to ripen, but look!  Isn't this amazing?

I still think that a yellow tomato is just kind of weird.  The photo doesn't show how huge they are.

My favorite, and first serious foray into the Heirloom tomatoes is the Mortgage Lifter.  During the Depression years a man grew these and sold them to pay off his mortgage, and he did it successfully.  They are very very good.  Very "tomato-y."

And these are one of the Brandywines, and oh are they delicious.  I have pink, yellow, and these amazing orange ones.  Oh, and a dark one.  IF it were daylight, I'd go out and read the labels, but it's dark and windy, so just trust me.

Tonight our Writers Group was two of us, so we took a field trip out to where the Vaux's Swifts congregate to fall into their chimney for the night.  Notice the jet.  It is way higher than the swifts, but I thought it was a pretty amazing sight.

The birds hang out in our area for a couple of weeks before they continue their journey south to Mexico.  They fly many miles every day, and come back to this chimney to roost.
From here they fly over to the Sacramento River Delta for their breakfast!

It is incredible to sit under this spectacle.  The birds gather as the sun is setting, and at a given moment they begin their descent into the chimney.  They make many passes, and do not crowd one another.  No one pushes or shoves, whines or honks their horn.  A bunch of them will go in and the rest circle until all is arranged and well within the chimney, then the next layer goes in.  We stayed until the last bird entered.

It was a great field trip.  


Anonymous said...

..and the biology teacher from the school where the chimney lives brought us a fallen one, wingspread wider than body, little sharp clingers on the tail for hanging to the chimney walls, velvet small softness. Field trip a high success-and this co-tripper came home with some of the very tomatoes pictured! Yum. As one of the students cried out, "Here come 80,000 MORE!" Estimates stand at 30,000. In the whirl of swarming, the students estimate seemed LOW!

N2 said...

Lovely pictures of the swifts. So glad you and Gail went out to see them. And the resulting poem or short story from this prompt we would love to see =o).

Glad, too, that your Big Yellow Oxhearts have come to fruition. I do love that blush inside the heart. Save seeds of that one. IMOP it is worth repeating.

They have an oxheart shaped red one over here called "Coeur de Boeuf". I will save some seeds of that one.


Merry ME said...

It is remarkable that Mother Nature is able to teach kindergarten manners to such a large group of birds. Not one of them seems to be running with scissors or saying ugly words.

I went once to see the swallows of Capistrano. As I recall I saw 4 or 5! I think they moved from the mission. But still return on March 19 which is my birthday!

Ms. Moon said...

I don't think science has yet figured out how birds move so much as one when they lift or when they settle. And so- for us- it is still a mighty miracle. It will still be when they figure this out.

Bimbimbie said...

I'm envious - what an wonderful sight - I'd have swiftly swooned I think

those tomatoes look pretty wonderful too*!*

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