Chipmunks, it seems at first, leave nothing to chance: they create an underground larder and stuff it -- all in one place, sign on the door. I've always admired them for this. Imagine my horror when we watched a brilliant nature show which filmed one chippie plunder another's store, leaving the homeowner to starve over the winter. I had to leave the room; apparently, Jon assured me later, the victim went and stole his acorns back, but it wasn't looking hopeful when I fled. Now that I think of it, there have been some legendary furious chases in our own garden.
I'm out there almost as much as the other mammals. Yesterday was the day to cut back the hostas and take clippings from the Annabelle hydrangeas; their huge duck-green flowerheads dry beautifully, even if they are messy to move around. The one painful loss this year was that of the corkscrew hazel, which I loved beyond words. The littler-man-next-door commented that he thinks the older clipped branches look spooky in their living room branch pot. I prefer to think of them as oriental and asymmetrical and elegant, and something similar will be the fate of the dying bush too.
But the berries! The inspiration for this painting of mountain ash was the combination of yellow leaves and red fruit. Sometimes the berries themselves steal the show. I do love the bittersweet's orange berries tangling within its ropes of vines, but the clear winner is the native spindle-tree (euonymus atropurpureus); it is also know as the Eastern wahoo, a name which surely describes the scream of delight elicited by its flashy seed pod. Square like the stem, the hot pink four-lobed husk of the fruit opens to reveal a marmalade-orange berry, the whole effect being captured in its name: Heart Bursting with Love. I have a great closeup of it which I must find the time to paint. Spindle-tree is quite rare now perhaps because, as I have noticed in our garden, eastern tent caterpillars adore it. If you would like some and don't mind murdering whole families in the spring, I have lots of seeds.
Don't eat them yourself, though, unless you want something else to burst.