There’s something primal about the rich scent of dark, freshly turned garden soil, even in October, when the warmth has left and the worms have drilled deep into the earth.

There were some fat, ripe grapes hanging heavy on the vines. A nice surprise.

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The squirrels and birds have had a feast – do I pick them now or leave them for the animals? My next task is to install the plastic fencing around the berry patch to keep out the rabbits.

I finally got a chunk of time to get outside and plant the garlic cloves that have been sitting on the counter for three weeks. They’re fat and crisp and no doubt will produce fat, crisp bulbs of fragrant garlic next June. I actually added some duck compost to the hole I dug and nestled them into the cool soil, stomped them in well (don’t know if those &^^$!  rampaging squirrels like a soupçon of seasoning with the tulip bulbs they so vigorously uproot. One of the little buggers was watching me from a distance. Probably plotting revenge of some sort.

I made the mistake a couple of years ago to leave everything ‘au naturel’, but halfway through the winter, I found the long-eared rodents had chewed the tender wood down to the ground. As prickly as they were, the one-year-old wood must have made good eating. But once I caught on to their predatory ways, I put up the fence and can be assured that at least the bushes will survive.  I’ve resorted to piling up old carpet around the lower branches of the grape vines and Korean lilac bush and leaning odds and sods of wood against them. Did I say it was warm?

Yeah, it’s me against Mother Nature and her little critters. That’s what we get for living in the country.