I’ve been thinking about how beautiful the various invasive plant species are this time of year. There are bittersweet vines, with their contrasting yellow and orange berries, and phragmites reeds, which look so pretty when the stalks sway in the breeze with the sun shining through their soft brown seed heads. Russian olive bushes have those pale silvery green leaves and tons of red berries after most of the other fruiting bushes are done. Maybe it’s partly because they’re so appealing that they’ve spread so widely, like how popular people get invited to more parties.
The bittersweet on Chappaquiddick is oriental bittersweet which has taken over completely in the northeast from the native-growing American bittersweet, which was not invasive. It’s hard to imagine anything could spread more easily than our bittersweet does, but I’ve heard that Chinaberry vines, with their beautiful turquoise and purple berries and sculpted leaves, are even more invasive. I see them lots of places now.
There’s a bush I started noticing a few years ago on the right side of the road approaching the point that has red berries with an interesting shape. The three or four-part capsules open to expose orange seeds inside. When I mentioned it to my brother, he pointed out a few more in another spot nearby.
After some research, I discovered the bush is a European spindle tree, related to bittersweet, which makes sense as the seeds are similar. The European spindle tree is under suspicion of being invasive in this country. Each year I see more of them with berries and wonder if they will be the next big invasive species on the island. Maybe I should cut them down — but they’re so pretty!
There won’t be a potluck Thanksgiving dinner this year at the community center and no third Wednesday potluck dinner, either – too close to Thanksgiving. The next dinner will be on Wednesday, Dec. 5.
But on Friday, Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving, you can come to the community center between 3 and 5 p.m. for hot cider and cookies and to say hello to your friends and neighbors while picking up the 2008 Chappy calendar. If you didn’t yet order calendars, you can come and buy some on Friday.
Because of the number of people who spoke up in opposition to continuing the paved road out to Wasque, the selectmen have shelved the idea for now.
This fall, some of the outdoor critters who live around our house seem to be making themselves especially at home, as if they owned the place. For a couple of days, there was a skunk rattling around our recycling area, a little entry room off the kitchen. One fearless mouse kept hanging around the kitchen in the evenings while we were there. It kept popping out from behind the waste basket and looking at us and then slipping down inside the stove burner holes when we got too close.
Most mice will be caught in a Have-A-Heart trap set with a little peanut butter. This mouse didn’t like peanut butter. It wouldn’t go near the trap until I added some cheese (maybe it was a more traditional mouse) and sunflower seeds (or maybe it was a health-nut mouse).
Last spring, a chipmunk made a hole straight into the ground just off the front porch. This fall I noticed it had made another hole about six inches away from the first — perhaps enlarging its compound.
Last week, I was sitting outside in the sun a little ways from the holes when I heard a scolding sound coming from that direction. As I turned to look, two chipmunks zoomed past me, nearly running over my feet which I jerked up with a shriek. (I have an unexplainable fear of little animals running up my legs.) Soon, the chipmunk that had done the chasing ran back and sat up on its hind legs on the porch steps, glaring at me for the longest time, as if it would take me on, too, if need be.