I wonder sometimes whether hummingbirds recognize people. My guess is that they don't—I'm not sure whether they even recognize people as people, let alone have the ability to recognize individuals. If I wear pink or orange out in the garden, the hummingbirds are much differently aware of me than if I'm in green or blue. Pink and orange qualify me as Potential Dinner. Yellow might let me be Worth a Shot. But blue and green? They just make me blue Not-a-Dinner or green Not-a-Dinner, equally uninteresting in either case. A change of clothes is worth a whole new role in the ecosystem. It's practically an existential makeover, in hummingbird terms.
The 'Wild Thing' autumn sage looks thoroughly chastened. Winter stalked through the garden this week in a grumpy-neighbor "Some of us have to work tomorrow" sort of way and shut down the party, slam! Now the riotous blooming by the patio is at an end, and the loud outbursts of color have gone quiet. Let's hope 'Wild Thing' doesn't look in the mirror until it's gotten some rest.
|'Wild Thing' autumn sage (Salvia greggii) when it's at home|
Winter really did let us have it, at least in the Albuquerque scale of things. On Monday the temperatures reached record lows for that date, dropping to the single digits F; some parts of town (though not mine) had several inches of snow. The unusual cold pushed the garden forward into winter by about three weeks, if not into a whole different growing zone altogether. The Jupiter's beard and 'Goldflame' honeysuckle, usually green through December, are blackened mush. The ipheion, which comes up in fall and was beginning to make a bright, grassy (if somewhat threadbare) carpet under the sand cherries, is limp and flattened. Even the more or less evergreen 'Lady Banks' rose has lost most of its leaves.
The changes are a little disappointing this early in the season—I was hoping for more life in the garden this winter and am sorry to lose it before winter even starts. The changes are also a signal, though, that it's time to reframe my idea of beauty, to reset it to winter's standards and let autumn's slip away.
|Crocus speciosus, on a bed of cotula and cat hair|
But they won't be party clothes any more.