First we hear them, and then we see them:
The Flash Magpie Mobs of Summer.
Just last week the baby magpies were still hanging around their parents, their head feathers just a tad messy, and their movements still just a tad gawky.
Apparently they are now out of the nests for good, and have joined up with other young magpies to form a noisy gang that flies about the neighborhood, winging into one tree for a few minutes then lifting en mass to fly to another tree for no apparent reason.
I took these pictures a day ago; this morning I listened and watched as they took over our back yard for a bit. Gee whiz those birds are loud! Our kitties stare wide eyed out the window when they land on our deck rail. I have noticed our scrub jays have been reluctant to land there to grab peanuts when the much bigger magpies soar in.
And then...off they go again. I wonder if they "hang" with their nest mates, (up to seven babies are raised in each nest...and the nest takes 40 days to construct!) or if they are making new relationships with each perch.
All is quiet right now. Wonder where they went this time? I suspect they will be back in the neighborhood later today though. We haven't seen the last of them yet.
Speaking of mobs: Our garden has been quietly been producing modest harvests. The berries are tart and our son (who has been amazing me with with his horticultural knowledge of late) informed me that he has just recently learned that some berries that remain tart are actually a berry used for baking rather than eating fresh. He had planted a berry that had remained tart for two years and finally asked our local garden shop about it. They broke the news that his berry vine was labeled as a cooking variety.
Who knew? Not me...and our vine came with the house so we can only take a guess that ours is a cooking variety as well.
One small harvested handful won't go far in a pie. Hmmm...any suggestions?
The beans were grown from a Disney seed pack which promised several varieties of colorful beans. The purple beans are not coming on as fast as the yellow beans but they are, as promised, quite colorful.
We tried an experiment this summer: We created a veggie/flower garden on the west side of our house, a side area that is mostly just a passage way between houses.
Beans, eggplant, iris, day lily and zinnias went in and are all doing quite well.
We also planted a squash. Neither of us can remember exactly what kind of squash though. Right now the vine is taking over, as we expected it would, and the blossoms are gorgeous.
Squash blossoms are their own kind of "flash mob"...they bloom hugely in the morning and are shriveled up by nightfall.
We do see a few baby squash growing...it gives us hope for a later harvest.
Meanwhile another harvest has been made possible.
I snipped off what I *hope* were a few male flowers, brought them inside, snipped off the green end that was attached to the stamen, which I pulled free all in one piece.
Mixed up a batter of milk, flour, one egg, lemon pepper and ground Italian seasonings.
Mixed up a small bowlful of ricotta cheese, green onion, bell pepper slivers, garlic salt, pepper and a dash more of Italian seasoning.
Used a spoon to place a glob of the cheese mixture inside the blossom, then sealed the flower around the cheese mix by twisting the petals and end, and folding them over to make a packet form.
Placed the packet into the batter, then popped the packet into a skillet with hot olive oil, just about a half inch deep.
I made up my own recipe...I tend to do that with things that are to be cooked rather than baked. Given enough blossoms I suppose I might try a Mexican spice or Indian spice version, or maybe try or add a different cheese.
They were absolutely delicious.
Flash mobs: Some are good, some are interesting, some are horrible.
I still need to read Ann Coulter's monograph Demonic. It is about mobs. She spent the last two years researching mob behavior throughout history and as she put it, was quite amazed to have her book published, then see the world entangled with mob action just two months later.
Trust me: the mobs have not read her book. Don't you wonder why there is mob behavior in unlikely places like the traditionally proper UK and Vancouver Canada?
Will there be more mobs across the globe in the coming days?
Probably. If they would just be magpies and squash blossom mobs I actually wouldn't mind.
(You might enjoy reading Ann Coulter's column about flash mobs HERE Only she could bring a chuckle to the gravity of the mob situation while bringing clarity as well.)