Sunday, December 6, 2009

This week was the first time this season that the temperature dipped down into the twenties. Around here that means it is time to drain the water lines. I was a rookie at outdoor plumbing fifteen years ago when we began laying irrigation lines here at Kalorama. Our friend, Rector, directed that project. It was his idea to put a drain in a box in the ground at the lowest points on the water line. The man that ran the irrigation supply store that I did most of our shopping at sold me drain valves that could be turned on and off with a special tool without having to get on my hands and knees and sticking my hand down in the hole. That is really a fine thing indeed, because critters love to hang out in those drain boxes. The last drain on the north side of the driveway has had a rough green snake living in it for the past two winters. A rat snake lived in it before that.

I gathered up the tools necessary for the job and along with Dixie, headed out on the BadBoy to drain the lines. Everything went just as planned, and the green snake didn't seem to mind being bothered, though it was way too cold for it to care. It had wrapped its tail around the valve handle, so I had to be careful to keep from pinching it. While we were out, I took a few pictures of what I knew would be the last of the pretty leaves.

The red leaves and berries on the dogwoods were spectacular this year. The little silver buds are next spring's flowers. The yellow-bellied sapsuckers are in the trees all the time eating the berries.

Early in December the first narcissus begin to bloom. I don't know the name of this variety, but it is the earliest of paperwhites. It is very white, and has a lovely scent. I have a lot of interest and help when I get down to ground level to take pictures.

The gingko tree was really pretty this year. It is one of the last trees to turn and is always bright yellow. The tree here at Kalorama doesn't have a great shape because it has grown up in the edge of the woods, but the leaves are especially pretty carpeting the ground.

Several years ago we planted a Witch Hazel tree behind the Visitors Center building. It is a fairly common tree of southern woodlands. It has pretty yellow leaves in the fall, and very interesting yellow flowers November through January. I discovered it was blooming the other day.