Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Woodpecker Watching With Chai

Today the great radiant heart of the sun is shining on the lovely gold and apricot trees and it is warm.  However, step into the shade and there's a different story.  Autumn's chill is here.  In fact, I think we had some frost last night - not enough to kill things, but tonight it is supposed to go below freezing.  Maybe I had best dig up that tender lavender and bring it in.  It can join the hibiscus, which are blooming their hearts out.  Great double reds and peaches,  a huge single dark red, almost mahogany in its throat.

Today is a good day for a chai and I have just the thing.  One of my WTE finds is Nature's Guru Instant Cardamom Chai.  I had tried this at the show and liked it, so I got some.  First of all, it is definitely cardamon.  And sweet.   It couldn't be simpler to prepare, open the packet, add hot water, stir.  I really like - so much so I bought a 4 pack from Amazon.  It is also carried by health food stores and Whole Foods Markets.  I am a big fan of chai, anyway and I found this to have a lovely balance.  If you don't like cardoamom, they have several other varieties, some sweetened, some not.  I got the unsweetened, as this was over the top for me.  Himself, of course, thought it was just right.

Did you know that these are the hibiscus you can dry and make into tea?  My friend, Marcel, the chef, dries them, pulverizes them and uses them in sugar to add color and a hint of flavor to fruits and peels he dries and candies.

The Downy Woodpeckers are diminutive - about 4-5 inches long, but they can be scrappy.  We have 4 tiny males battling it out at the suet.  There are 3 feeders and they are so small that each feeder can easily hold 2, but no, fight they must.  From the looks of things, I think it may be a sorely tried papa trying to get his young ones to feed themselves.  The papas and mamas certainly looked tired and bedraggled this summer from their fledglings.

These little birds have an odd habit. They take a long time of looking around to see if it is safe before they feed.  However, they are chirping loudly as they do so, giving the blue jay "bully boys" plenty of time to notice them and swoop in.  I keep thelling them to be quiet, but I guess I don't speak "downy".

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