Unexpected visitors in the garden

It was oppressively hot for several days so I had good excuse for not being outside. Strolling the internet, I came to Martha’s place and found her hints on cleaning shears and knives with white vinegar. It is embarrassing to admit how grungy my tools get, but here is the sad truth IMG_6139 just a small photo; they are so badly in need. I put on an apron and gathered my supplies and the results were gratifying. A rinse, dry in the sun and lube in the old “joints” and they are ready for work again. IMG_6140

There is no photo to prove it but I would not make up this terrible news. I was sitting at the kitchen table when something caught my eye and I was so glad the door was closed as the now resident groundhog brushed up against the screen. I think he was not expecting to see me and he turned and run down the path, across the yard and back to the shed, where he perched on the wall and I was glad I could not hear him ranting his displeasure. We are sure he lives underneath the shed and while he does, I don’t go back there. Do you know that Groundhogs can climb trees? And if trees, why not to the top of sheds with trees around them? My nephew said he saw them in trees on his property a few years ago, I hoped he was just joking, but not. If you have an interest in them, here is fascinating  information – the thought of them having homes like a mine under my yard is disconcerting.

And now, IMG_6157. This may not look like much, but that is a tunnel crafted along the rock path. Now there is one down the other side and more branching off in all directions. Moles.

One of our first years here, we caught one. I thought it was cute. I was the ignorant city girl who grew up with story book animals.  I would not let my husband kill it, I thought if he just took it to the very back of our three acres, it would wander happily into the field beyond. It probably did. Where in the way of storybook moles, it was hailed as a returning hero by its brethren who followed him in a great pioneering contingent to fully invade the yard several days later.

Add these to the daily deer who huff at me when I am bold enough to step outside.

To console myself, each day of the heat wave I brought in day lilies for the table. Soothing consolation in each bloom. Distraction too from the pending war on the invaders.IMG_6152

 

 

 

The old dark and stormy night routine

Loud, disturbing storms rolled slowly through my long restless night. After dawn, the sun came slowly through the lingering clouds and there was the lovely lush green glow of this rainy summer. after the rain

Fortunately the power held and I could proceed with the days work of pickling. A kind neighbor had called with an offer of cucumbers and zucchini. Since we did not plant a vegetable garden this year, this was a real gift.

First, I made the Zucchini into soup from a recipe given to me a number of years ago. It is very similar to this one. We love the curry seasoning and usually have it warm. I’m so pleased to have several containers in the freezer.

It has been quite a few years since I had enough cucumbers growing to make pickles or relish and I had to gather some fresh spices for them. The process is slow and I feel the connection with the long history of women in summer kitchens “putting up” from the bounty of the land when I get to do these things. It was a shock for me to look at the old cookbook and realize the first time I made Million-Dollar Pickles was July, 1975! Yes, I write in my cookbooks, leaving the date and a comment trail through my years in the kitchen.

Pickles

Jars of pickles, jelly or jam cooling on the counter always bring a feeling of satisfaction, of blessing.

 

Mending life – a story

Sometimes I see great parallels between life and my mending pile. I learned to darn and hem as a Girl Scout. I was never very good at either. My hems improved when I came to understand that those enormous stitches easily got snagged and pulled and snapped and had to  be re-done. <sigh> In those days of skirts and dresses and uniforms and years of changing hem lines, I had lots of practice. But, I was never a perfectionist never skilled.

Fast forward to when I married  into a family with a rich inheritance of needlewomen. I knew his aunt had taught needlework skills but I was not really interested in learning then. Aunt Dolly curtained my house with her skills at the machine I borrowed then dressed my little one in crochet and smocked dresses and warmed us with afghans. I still didn’t ask her to teach me. She was busy and I did not think I would be an apt pupil.

When I was growing up, my mom was quite particular with the few hand worked items that she had. The beautiful crocheted tablecloth crafted by my Grandmother was always covered by heavy plastic when on the dining room table. So I was quite shocked to take my toddler to dinner at my Mother-in-law’s home and find embroidered or appliqued tablecloths on the table – without protection. Nana never blinked at a spill, it was never a problem. (I wish I knew her cleaning secrets.) There was one tablecloth that captivated me. Just before she passed away, my precious sister-in-law gifted me with it.  Just as pretty as I remembered, grown softer with wear and washing and with a small hole. You would always see the hole. The eye would see it immediately and the beauty of the whole would be ignored.

Sometimes it takes courage to mend a hole. I hesitated, did research, asked “experts”, got lots of different advice, but in the end, I’m the one who had to face the sad dilemma of poor darning skills to mend it. So a patch would be needed. I spent too much time searching my stash of misfit linens for a piece with the same look and feel. I thought about square vs. round – anything to keep from doing the work.

Sometimes life can be that way too. I inherit or create my own hole in the fabric of life… I try to figure out what to do to make it whole again… Knowing how clumsy and inept my efforts will be, I put it off…

The day finally came. I took courage, sized the patch, cut it and prepared it, stabilized the hole, oriented the grain line, threaded the needle and got to work making the tiniest stitches I am capable of sewing. Start to finish – 30 slow minutes. Yes, it’s a patch, yes, it shows, yes, it’s ok. In the grand beauty of Grandmom Weger’s applique and embroidery, no one will care and I think she would be happy to know we still treasure her work. I’m still captivated by it. And in real time and space, you won’t notice it – or maybe you would and realize how much someone cared to make it whole again.

The mending project

Life is a captivating treasure. Wear and tear can happen. While I must consider well what to do, I must not wait long to repair, to mend so that the beauty of the whole can be seen. I’m looking to see what else is in the mending pile…

Little faith

Last September, I wrote about finding seed clusters in the spent Calla Lily blooms. I waited and on October 31, I gathered my harvest. calla lily seeds

calla lily seeds Tiny seeds sloughed from corn like coatings. One can find anything on-line but directions are not the same as in person tutoring to me and I was left with this small collection of seeds to protect till spring. I put them in a small cardboard box and while I didn’t forget them, I also didn’t plant them as directed. But on a putter-y kind of day in early June, I sprinkled them in a pot.  My little seeds were faithful to their calling to live and sprang up!

calla lilies

They have been growing well and I’ve transplanted them into another pot.  Rain and sun will nourish them well.

cally lily seedlings

There are some areas of my life where seeds of faith lie scattered in the soil of my heart. I’m encouraged that like the Calla Lily seeds, these faith seeds are growing good roots.

June Days

The Everyday Garden

IMG_6039 I usually tidy the garden before I gather the beauty into a photograph. But this first view is like life, it’s all messy with yesterday still hanging about distracting from the beauty of the new day.

IMG_6041 It only takes about 5 minutes to tidy away yesterday; the new day’s offering is no longer obscured and the promise of beauty for tomorrow shows beautifully. In the Everyday Garden of my soul, it is much the same. If I will remind myself that His mercy and compassion fail not and are new every morning because He is faithful to care for me, I can let go of yesterday’s beauty and pain. Then the beauty of the new day can unfold.

Gentle Shepherd

Storm Season begins

The frequent warnings of storms, flash floods, possible tornadoes, and rip tides become part of the forecast. Storms can be very local with some areas getting very little while others have downpours and hail and flooding.

A week ago, we had a late afternoon of heavy rain. Hubby had decided the forecast was dire enough that he went into town for take-out in case of power failure here. He was back just in time to be inside as the heavens seemed to burst open in darkness. As the evening went on, the rain stopped but an ominous, eerie green light began to show in the windows. Naturally, I went outside!

clouds I have never seen these cloud formations here before nor this color of sky.

clouds  clouds

My brother tells me that in his part of the country, the green sky signals hail. While we had just a few pea size pieces fall, less than 10 miles away 4 inch hail was a destructive force and flash flooding was destroying property. Ominous clouds indeed. I came in and while later I could see a different glow in the sky.

clouds And the mammutus clouds fade away…

 

 

Luminous life

White flowers offer us luminous, glowing life in a garden.

collage of white

They bring a cooling refreshment to my soul. Many years ago I read about moon gardens – gardens to delight by moonlight.

Mountain laurel

I have planted many white and light colored flowers to capture the glow as the summer night settles in. Like moonlight itself, there is a kind of comfort from their glow in the dark; fragile beauty lighting the night.oakleaf hydrangeaI’ve also learned that some plants only give out their fragrance in the dark hours.

Sometimes the fragrance of love can seem most fragile and exquisite in dark hours too. Even as a long distance watchman, I could hear it, sense the beauty and the fragrance, hear the heart cry  as another beloved family member slipped from the darkness of this life into brilliance – luminous, glowing beauty beyond our knowing.

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, 

And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.          Psalm 36: 7-9 NKJV

Tradescantia

Ordinary?

It was an ordinary trip to the store when a casual glance at a porch stirred the faintest of memories – play time on a porch under the peasant false sky of blue ceiling.

And so I’ve been thinking of blue, and sky.

sky

Blue can be calm and comforting wrapped in old denim and chambray or soft baby blue blankets. But then, blue is authority in uniforms and robes of royalty. There’s blue in Antarctic ice and blue in flame; feeling blue sadness and the cheery blue sky of sunny days.

Blue touches earth in blossoms  and takes flight in butterflies and birds that make my heart soar heavenward.

blue

The vast sky is an ever changing palette of shade and hue. How many ways we try to describe it! Powder blue, azure, heavenly blue, sky blue, navy, celestial blue, indigo, cobalt, azure, periwinkle, sapphire… The shades are clear or hazy, murky, stormy, threatening, comforting, cold…

Blue wraps my world in beauty.

blue eye grass

Paint Box – yellow

Recently a writing prompt surfaced in an old journal and drew me in again – Color.

I find that the spring light makes color more vibrant, more uplifting to my soul.

If you had asked me about yellow, well, at first I wouldn’t have much to say except it is a cheerful color. But reflection tells me it is woven through my adult life – a favorite dress in soft yellow, then yellow gingham curtains and yellow walls in a baby’s room, a fun yellow car, bouquets of dandelions in a chubby fist, a yellow bike, vintage yellow crocks in the kitchen… a touch here and there.

collage in yellow

The yellows of early spring glow. More memories glow too: puckery lemons with peppermint stick straws at the Flower Mart in Baltimore, Mom’s lemon meringue pies with toasty brown peaks atop creamy fillings – best fresh from the oven… Do you have memories in yellow? Do they bring happy smiles to your face now?

pseudo iris

Winged news

The hummingbirds are back in town. I had great viewing of “Sit & Sip”. This photo is from her old album!

HummerThis time of year the chores are never ending. I try to pace myself through the gardens and wild spaces by plant emergence. I rounded the corner one morning and was shocked to find this mess:

stump

IMG_5505

Just a stumpy piece of wood sitting in the garden. I wondered… and today, I know for sure.

Pileated Woodpecker. Somehow I deleted the best photo of this amazing bird, but I’ll be on the watch now. We have a number of rotting stumps and slices from past tree removal so I know it will be back; I hope I’ll be ready for the photo op!

The work progresses:

   stump       stump

 woodpecker