I have a garden, a yard, an orchard, flower beds, lawns and woods. There is a marshy area down by the road that I call a “seasonal water feature.” Some years it’s soggy later than others. There is a “sacred grove” of cedars and maples that I protected from clearing when we bought the place, though I allowed several large cedars to be harvested to help us pay for part of the work. The woods in the far back of our lot (which is only a little more than an acre) are third-growth with a few snags that are alder (they don’t live very long), some cedar and maple, and a fir or two. For understory there are lots of red huckleberries which are the native vaccinia in our area, sword ferns and deer ferns, trillium and other lilies depending on the season and assorted invasive and native shrubs like holly and mahonia (Oregon grape).
Usually when I am talking about the garden, I speak of the area between the marsh and the orchard, or the flower beds that are scattered around the front half of the property. Today I worked in the vegetable garden, my 30 x 30 foot spot of tilled earth close to the road. Yesterday I worked just under the medlar tree which is in a kidney-shaped bed by the front door, about 3 feet wide and 15 feet long. Tomorrow, if the rain holds off and I am not incapacitated from working outside today I will work to clear blackberries from the heather plants under a little cedar in front of the house.
Every day I am in the garden there is something to see, something to hear, something to touch, and often something to taste! Even now, long before the fruiting plants are bearing and before most of the vegetables have even germinated there are lovely native sorrel plants that have the tang of citrus when I chew a leaf, and sweet chickweed that feels meatier and tastes sweet and nutty. Being in the garden is restorative, invigorating and motivating.
Here are a few pictures from this morning and afternoon, showing (I hope) a few things that are particularly nice.
The bees are out in force. Here is a link to a short video of bees on the medlar (about 38 seconds long). The bees are LOADED with pollen on their back legs. The sound when standing near the medlar is mesmerizing.
At the very end, you can see a tiny jumping spider that hitched a ride, a lovely little black and white lady.
The bees have also been active in the lupines, the strawberries and the thimbleberries.
I didn’t take a picture of the lupines, the strawberries, the plum or the clematis (which I partially unwound and retrained to start going up the trellis) today. If I am home tomorrow and it isn’t raining, I will take pictures then. There are a lot of plums already nearly an inch long, and the lupines (which really should have been moved or removed last year) are always fascinating because of the naturally-occurring variations in the blooms.
I went as a chaperone with the high school band to the Spokane Armed Forces Torchlight Parade at the 74th Lilac Festival. Here is a poor quality video I took, you get just a small hint of their sound, and an impression of the pace they moved at. It was dusk, and all I had was my cellphone.
just like last time, the video needs work before it can be used… please stand by…
And just like last time, here is a link to the youtube video.
Fourth Grade, Fifth Grade, High School, Primary School. I pretty much hit all the major levels this week, and enjoyed them all!
What I am learning:
I have one mother, whom I adore, and see as often as we can get together. Her mother, my beloved Granny, died a couple of years ago. My paternal grandmother, my Nana, died in 2001. I have many fond memories of both my grandmothers, and though we lived at a distance, we tried to visit them as often as possible.
I found a few pictures from my Nana’s collection yesterday when I was going through a box and put them together in some pictures I snapped on my ipad.
The first is Nana with Bert, my grandfather, probably taken in the late 1980s.
The second is Granny, me, and Mother when I was in high school.
The next is Nana on her 90th birthday with her two living children, me and my boys.
The last one is of my two darling grandmothers together, taken on a day they visited graves, two families in one cemetery.
I have had other grand/mother figures, mentors and guides in my life, for whom I am also and always grateful. Some are still with us, some are gone ahead. My mother-in-law who early on advised me that my kids would be completely different people (boy, was she ever right!) and so I was prepared to have some conflicts between the kids. My dear friend Betty who has been patient and supportive since I was very flighty 16-year old. MaryJo, a friend I knew when I was in college. Mrs. Lupher, who gave me refuge every week for a morning to watch nature programs, garden, and eat coffee ice cream. And many, many others.
I am not sure how, but a LOT of the plants in my garden this time of year are purple-bloomers. Here are just a few of the ones that I decided to take pictures of today. What aren’t here (that I can remember) are the invasive ground cover in the orchard, the lovely purple ground cover under the medlar and the purple-blue native hyacinths. What I can’t convey in this photo essay is how heavenly the light-colored lilac smells today.
I am putting this in as a gallery, and apologize in advance for picture quality, the ipad takes nice pictures, but I think I had the settings off a little bit yesterday.
I was in my garden today, and took a lot of pictures. I am experimenting with using the “gallery” feature of wordpress, trying different configurations and such. Hadn’t used it with the latest update (or two or three) so still figuring things out (check back again tomorrow for another post).
White is, in my opinion, generally an under-used color in the garden. In shady spaces, it glows. In sunny places it shines. It stands out against cool colors, it highlights bright colors, it cools down warm colors. Used in masses the textures of the flowers show up beautifully with white.
We live our lives inside of stories. Memories are faulty, events from one decade can be confused with events from another, things that seemed very important at the time can be forgotten. Stories can help us keep the essential pieces together, the meaning of the event, without focusing too much on the “facts.” I learned a lot about European history from stories and novels, that allowed me to remember the relationships between the players. I listened to my family’s stories about times and people past as well.
Stories have been used since humans had speech to convey values, hopes and fears, and ideas about how the world works. The oral tradition allowed for stories to be modified to meet the needs of each audience, each teller, each time.
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Maurice Sendak gave voice to young children’s feelings. Why do kids have tantrums? Because life isn’t fair and they can’t argue with it or control it.
Where the Wild Things Are gave us an outlet for anger.
Little Bear which he illustrated gave us a reflection of love and growing up. I think the stories by Elsa Holmelund Minarik were sweet, but the pictures I examined while the story was read gave it life and helped me make the connections I needed.
Chicken Soup with Rice was not only the title of a fun book that reviewed the months, it became the comfort food of choice when I was little and feeling poorly.
It would be a poor classroom library (at any level) that didn’t have at least one of his books on hand for inspiration.
Here is the BBC article on Mr. Sendak, who passed away in the wee hours this morning.
And a link to Amazon.com’s page on Maurice Sendak, with a short bio and bibliography.
I know from the many stories on the radio and in the news that Mr. Sendak said he was an author and artist, not a “children’s book author and illustrator.” I would say that he was one of the most powerful generators of imagery and meaning for people of my generation (the first to grow up with his work) and for my children. Yes, a true artist, who understood the power of pen and brush.
Yesterday Grant helped me take a video of the neighborhood bald eagles. They have been “patrolling” the local seagull colony, waiting for unguarded nests. You can hear the eagles’ tiny warbling cries, and occasionally the seagulls calling out, as well as my own young one’s running commentary. Enjoy!
Well, my upload attempt failed. Will try again soon… Here it is!!