It has been an unusually warm autumn. Here it is towards the end of October and we still have not had a night when the temperature dropped to or below freezing. To give you an idea of how strange this is, our average date when this happens is October 8th. I still have flowers blooming. My pole beans managed to produce a handful of beans which I picked today. The cowpeas have a few new flowers. The zucchini have flowers. There are still tomatoes.

The leaves have turned though and with a moderate wind yesterday and today they are falling. Out of the corner of my eyes I keep seeing movement in the windows and it startles me because my lizard brain thinks there is something lurking but it is just leaves swirling down off the trees.

The Dashwoods don’t care about the weather, they just care about being allowed out of their run and into the garden. It’s so funny how excited they get. Today Mrs. Dashwood decided to help me pick cowpeas. Usually I get Elinor’s help, meaning, whatever I pick she grabs out of my hand. But she has already learned that dry cowpeas are not appetizing so she just hangs out waiting to see if I am going to pull anything out of the ground. Mrs. Dahswood has not learned about cowpeas.

I am bent over snipping off the dry ones and Mrs. Dashwood pushes in to see what I am about. She sees I am picking the long pod things off the plants so she grabs a pod and starts yanking. Of course she grabs a green pod that is not ready to be picked. She pulls and pulls and finally gets it off. It is too long and too big for her to gobble down so she drops it and begins pecking at it. She pecks half of it into a mush and abandons it.

I thought perhaps she would be done helping me after that, but nope. The green pods might not be tasty but she had some fun wrestling it off the plant apparently. Next thing I know she has gotten herself into the middle of the cowpea patch and grabbed another pod and is yanking for all she’s worth. She got it off, dropped it and was going to go for another one but thankfully chickens are rather easily distracted. Before she got to work yanking on another pod Margaret and Elinor had come over to see what she was doing and she turned her attention to them. Cowpeas saved from further ravaging.


In spite of the weather being warm on Satruday I chose to ride indoors instead for a number of reasons. My new tattoo is still healing and cannot be slathered in sunscreen nor can it have legwarmers snugged up against it rubbing on it for hours. Also, leaving for a long ride early in the morning means starting out in the dark with bike lights and layers to peel off as the day gets warmer. So much gear to deal with. I just was not in the mood. Plus, Zwift, the cycling game I use with my trainer, is having a contest this month to win this beautiful Cervelo S3 Disc road bike retailing at a little over $5,000. This is a sweet honey of a racing bike that I would never ever buy for myself but if I won it I would not say no!

The contest had two challenges. Ride 25 miles/40 kms and get one entry into the drawing. Did that a week and half ago, easy. The tougher one is 112 miles/ 180 km for five entries into the drawing. Since I am planning on doing a 200 mile/322 km race next summer I figured there was no time like the present to get started.

I fired up the trainer a little after 7 a.m., had a line of water bottles on the bookshelf next to me and two bowls of snacks. I had a movie streaming on Netflix, Slaying the Badger, about Greg LeMond (since Lance Armstrong’s drug disqualifications Lemond is the only American to ever win the Tour de France). Good flick about a cycling rivalry (the Badger is Bernard Hinault, a French cyclist). When the movie was done I had my iTunes playlist ready to takeover.

I chose a route that had two hills in it, one short steep one and one longer gradual one and rode it on a loop. Varied virtual terrain keeps things interesting and the hills provided the perfect opportunity to stand up and pedal to stretch and to give my backside some relief. I went non-stop and managed to complete the challenge in 6 hours averaging 18.6 mph/ 30 kph. As you can probably imagine, I was pretty tired afterwards.

In addition to now having six entries for that bike, I am also in the process of learning what and how to eat for longer distances. And along with training my body and figuring out pacing, I am training my mind too because let me tell you, the last 20 miles/32 km was one big head game. As someone who has never been especially athletic, the mental part of all this has come as a big surprise. If any of you know of some good books on sports psychology I’d be glad for the recommendation!