I could see more than a dozen apples on the columnar apple tree, the first time there's been a significant crop since I planted it two and half years ago. One apple went to my mom's to be dipped in honey at the Rosh Hashanah dinner. The rest I'd decided to use for a pie. The surprise was that after I finished patting down the thickly-leaved 8-foot-tall apple tree, I came away with 22 apples!
The next surprise was a bright fuchsia-and-white dahlia. It appeared to be growing on a rhody, but on closer inspection I realized that the late-bloomer, planted only a month or so ago, had come up through the adjoining bush. If this dahlia winters over as well as the more established dahlias we have, it should be amazing next year. (Photo to come.)
The third surprise was Big Tony. That's the name I've given to the very large dark gray tabby whose been gobbling Betaille's leftovers in the back yard for the past week. This cat is big, with a long muzzle; he looks like something that should be on display in the zoo. Today he and Betaille came into the house together and Tony proceeded to eat every scrap of cat food in sight. Zoe glared at him balefully, but Sheba was surprisingly uninterested. Zorg was able to touch him, and I got in a quick pat. Though he looks well-groomed, Tony has the timid demeanor of a stray; he didn't seem as though he'd venture into a strange house unless very hungry. We haven't seen any local "lost cat" posters, and there's no mention of him on Craig's List or in the newspaper classifieds. Since he gets along with Betaille, he's certainly welcome to keep her company and enjoy the second heated cat bed in her shelter. He's a better tenant than a raccoon.