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Yes, dear readers, the blog has experienced a rather excitable day. It’s like a child who has had Too Much Christmas. Too Much Halloween. You know how children get. You give them too many presents or candy and they’re off and running! And this blog is still quivering with excitement and happiness.
Can you guess what happened? The blog writer went to work, like she usually does, and didn’t check email until later in the day. And there was The Email. The blog perked up its ears. This is what the email said: Congrats! Your post ( https://centria.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/repeating-myself-like-a-broken-record-record-record/ ) has just been promoted to the homepage of WordPress.com. Keep up the good work!
Thanks a million,
The WordPress.com Team
The blog jumped so high it hit the ceiling! The blog danced around the house! The blog turned to the writer and said, “Ha! Told you so! You were ready to quit me last week, weren’t you? You were ready to throw me in Lake Superior, weren’t you? Ha! What do you think now?”
Well, of course, the blog writer knew immediately that the Blog was out-of-control. So what do moms do when their children get a little wild and crazy and nuts? Of course! Send them outside! Let them run off their energy and steam.
“C’mon, Barry,” the blog writer said to her husband, “let’s go to the Slate Quarry.”
The blog knew something was up yesterday. Something strange happened. The daily stats soared to 274 hits. An all-time high! What? What was happening? How come? Did everyone suddenly decide they wanted to go outside and searched for “outdoor blogs”? The blog shook its head in amazement. Something was in the air.
Then came The Email. And when you clicked on wordpress.com there it was in black and white. This outdoor blog. And people started sauntering over to check it out. To see what the heck the blog title was talking about. A broken record? A broken CD? C’mon, what the heck does that MEAN?
The blog felt like she was caught in her pajamas. In her pajamas and over 600 people come over to visit! Uninvited guests, but oh so welcome. We’ve been handing out wild apples to visitors all day. “Thank you for stopping by! Thank you for stopping by!”
It’s 7 p.m. at night and there have been 622 views. The blog has never known this excitement! I swear, how do you calm the blog down so it can sleep? Meditation? Alcohol? Sleeping pills? A jog down the road? The writer is befuddled. How does one keep one’s blog halfway calm? We’re drinking lavender and chamomile tea now. We hope that works.
Tomorrow we’re sure things will be back to “normal”. We’ll tell you about our outdoor adventure to the Arvon Slate Quarry. We’re sure the blog will be calm by then. Her heartbeat back to normal. Come back and visit again then, OK?
P.S. It’s 7:47 p.m. and it looks like…maybe…they’ve taken this blog off their home page. The blog hits have gone silent. We’re all looking ’round, shaking our head. Is everyone gone? Is it safe to put the pajamas back on? What do you think?
Dear blog readers,
If you remember anything from this year of outdoor adventures, do you know what it should be? (In other words, Kathy, if you learn anything from this year of outdoor adventures, do you know what it should be?) I have repeated this at least sixteen times and you poor readers will probably have to hear it ANOTHER sixteen times before the year ends. You poor things.
But here it is, once again for anyone who is still reading after that first paragraph: Do Not Believe Your Mind When It Tells You Not to Go Outside. It will attempt to abort your opening the door and walking outside. It will tell you, over and over again, often in a slight whine, “I don’t WANT to go outside. It’s too cold (substitute the current weather condition which might not look or feel optimal).” If you believe that Mind you will stay inside. I have too often believed that Mind before this year.
Today, Day 283, the thermometer said 44 degrees in the early afternoon. The memory of yesterday’s cold and rain surfaced. Momentary dislike for having to go outside surfaced.
And guess what? After about three minutes of feeling slightly cold, it suddenly felt JUST RIGHT. Once again, the Mind could not see accurately. It was even pleasurable. And, you know what? I might even go outside tonight again and help split up yet another load of firewood.
So there, Mind.
Here are some pics from two evenings ago (or was it three?) when I walked down by the lake. Today I wanted to spare you more photos of garden produce and soggy leaves. Except of course for the leaf which hangs above this blog. It’s already posted, so it can stay. Here we go:
I actually could be babbling on, telling stories about the evening down by the lake, but let’s just let the pictures tell the story today. You can supply any inner story-telling you like, if you want to imagine the feeling of spending an hour down on the lake during one of the last 70 degree evenings of September. Of maybe the rest of 2009. But we won’t go there in our story-telling, shall we?
Then, because we can’t really stand NOT to photograph leaves (it’s going to be an autumn of leaves, let me assure you! Just like it was a winter of snow, and a spring of flowers and now it’s Glorious Leaf Season…) here you go:
Here’s to autumn! Let’s raise our apple cider to the sky and enjoy the glories (and, ahem, the colder days) of the season.
P.S. 8:15 p.m. Just finished splitting another load of wood. Only maybe two more to go! I LOVE splitting wood. Really. Hope you didn’t believe any previous blogs you might have read. 🙂
You would think by looking at that photo that the sky is blue and the temperature is maybe 70 degrees and we’re enjoying a lazy Indian Summer day. Well, you would be wrong. That photo was taken yesterday (was it only yesterday?) before the weather changed and drenched us all into autumn.
We had to start a fire in the woodstove this morning, for goodness sake. Sigh. Fall must be here, for sure. We’ve been so spoiled this September. We’ve rarely experienced a September so balmy, so tepid, so delicious. Let’s stiffen our backs and upper lips and tighten our resolve and remember to…open the door and walk outside!
But not before donning lots of rain gear.
So on go the rain pants and rain jacket and…the heavy winter boots. I don’t have a pair of rain boots, and the thought of soaking a pair of sneakers in two minutes did not sound appealing. Put the rain hood over you head and out you go. Come on now, don’t be hesitant! You snooze, you lose. Get on out that door.
What a shock! Rain pouring from the heavens, the sky a deep shade of lead. What in the world should one do? This suddenly reminded me of the freezing cold days last winter when I would (confession time) bring a clock outside to ensure that I stay out there for long enough. Because the thoughts would cajole and beg, “Haven’t we been outside long enough? Can’t we go in?” So one must be firm with them. “No, we can not go in. Keep walking. Keep looking. It’s only been ten minutes Don’t let a little rain or cold stifle your experience. C’mon now, quit whining. Is it really that cold (or that rainy? or that miserable?)”
You might think the camera would capture images of the downpour. But no. Every digitally-uploaded photo of rain against the garage or trees looks like it’s not raining at all. Go figure.
Smiling suddenly, because I just wrote the above cutline about the leaves on the soggy log and mis-read it to say “Soggy blog”. Which, I suppose, it is. 🙂
One of the useful things I accomplished outside was picking a) tomatoes, b) cucumbers, c) peppers and d) basil for tonight’s dinner. Can you guess what dinner was? Never mind, I shall tell you. It was a garden pizza with salad and leftover corn. The reason for mentioning the picking-venture was this (and didn’t I warn you about it?): the fingers so quickly become frozen ice-cold appendages at the end of soggy hands. How quickly that happens. Even when it’s 46 degrees and not…oh what a daunting thought…32 degrees. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The temperature is still in the 40’s.
Besides gardening, and walking to the mailbox, and wandering in the ravine behind the house, I tossed some scraps into the woods. One of these scraps was a bleeding heart root. We pulled up one of our overgrown bleeding heart plants yesterday and said, “Fare thee well!” The roots looked so interesting and almost mystical. It seems like they might be medicine for some malady; who knows? Perhaps we should Google it. Here we have it from a possibly reliable or unreliable site (and for heavens sake, never try to use a bleeding heart root medicinally without extensive research!) It is apparently known as the “nerve root”.
Nerve root is used orally for insomnia; emotional tension; hysteria; anxiety states; agitation; nervousness; and specifically, anxiety states associated with insomnia.
Nope, I’m not that agitated about the rain or cold weather. In fact it’s kind of cozy sitting inside the house tonight listening to the rain pitter-patter on the roof and trees in our woods. But that’s because I opened the door and walked inside. Thank goodness that was an option today!
P.S. for anyone else experiencing rainy weather, here’s an entertainment suggestion. Listen to NPR’s Weekend Edition. Click here. There are at least six stories (or more) about our beloved Upper Peninsula. Go listen if you’d like!
Today was THE day. The day the beans may have been dreading. Or maybe the beans didn’t care. Or maybe we were dreading the hour of work involved. It was the day to: pull up the bean plants.
You may wonder why today was the auspicious day. How can you tell when the beans are ready to be pulled? Here is one of the secrets: you pull the bean plants from the ground when you surmise that the weather is going to get cold. You do not want to be pulling beans when it’s 45 degrees. You do not. Your fingers will become chilled and your attitude, as well. (It’s even worse to wait until too late for carrots and brussels sprouts. Brussels are the worst. You DO NOT want to be cutting off the little green nubs in the frost. One must “do the dirty” as late as possible in the growing season, but just before the temperatures plummet. We are thinking the temps might plummet soon. Time to pull.)
You can’t gauge pulling-time by the abundance or lack of flowers on the vine. On a lush September day like ours, the vines still sprout purple flowers. One must harden her heart before pulling out the vines. The secret life of beans and humans involves timing. Knowing when to plant, when to harvest, when to pull. (And sometimes we’re still learning those secrets!)
Here are some bean facts for you. Do you know what a green bean is? Simply the unripe fruit of any kind of bean. Thus, we could have green beans which later become garbanzos, kidneys, pintos, navy beans. Certain modern-day varieties have been specially bred for their fleshiness, flavor or sweetness of pod.
Our beans this year are rattlesnake beans. They are relatives of the pinto beans, distinguished by a tender texture and strong, almost tangy flavor. Or so some folks say. The same folks say that rattlesnake beans have been so named because of the curious curling growth habit of the bean pods which resemble coiled snakes when fully mature.
Hmmm….well, I hadn’t seen too many snake-like creatures in the bean fences until TODAY! When pulling out a handful of leaves around a certain post, look what remained–
So you pull and you pull and you pull. You either pull re-hashing mental stories and thoughts about all sorts of internal drama, or maybe you simply pull feeling the weight and heft of the bean plants as they whoosh out of the dirt and are tossed in a big pile. (I tried both kinds of pulling, mindless pulling and mindful pulling. The mindful pulling felt better.)
You pull the plants and look for the secret beans which have hidden hither and yon. Some have grown fat and undignified and tough and you toss those into the woods for the deer and raccoons and chipmunks and skunks. Others are slender and pirouetting on the vine like ballerinas. You pop those in your mouth right away because they’re so tender and delicious. You work. And work. And work. Always amazed that pulling beans takes so much time.
It thunders nearby. Rain is coming! Hurry now. Gather an armload of bean leaves and toss them beneath the oak tree for the animals to munch. Cluck under your breath because there are so many stems and leaves still caught in the chicken-wire fence. It would take another couple hours to remove every renegade stem. The fence doesn’t look very dignified at the end, but it works for next year.
The rain downpours just before you finish the bean-pulling. A couple hours later, in between showers, you resume and pull up every last bean. Then you and your husband wrestle the stakes of the bean fence out of the ground for storage in the shed. One of the wooden stakes breaks off in the ground. Guess we’ll need to replace that, come 2010’s planting season.
And now, for a last dinner of rattlesnake beans! So good. Nothing like a fresh bean. Nothing like good organic garden produce. And that’s the secret life of beans and those who love ’em.
Who says the forest is quiet?
It’s often an extremely noisy world outside our door, in the middle of the woods. This morning, while peacefully sipping our coffee and tea, chatting away…BOOM!! BOOM!! BOOM!!
It’s enough to make one leap up off the couch in startled frenzy. But we’re used to it, after all these years. We barely raised an eyebrow. I think I grunted something like, “What hunting season is it now?” and Barry mumbled back something like, “Duck. Goose. They’re hunting down on the bay.” Oh yes. We continued to sip our beverages, contemplating the hunter and hunted down on the bay. I said, “Hope the geese fly south fast” and Barry said, “Wouldn’t you like a goose dinner some day?”
“No,” I replied, “we’re vegetarians, don’t you remember?”
“Remember that goose dinner you cooked back when we were in our 20’s and you cried?” he continued.
“Vaguely,” I replied. We sipped some more and listened to the silence in the woods. Now you could hear the rooster crowing next door. Ahhhhhahahahaha! It cried. It does not cocka-doodle-doo like normal roosters.
Next loud noise: our woodsplitter. One must wear headphones to mute the loud whining engine sounds that keen through the trees. (Maybe it’s the trees that are keening loudly, knowing that their relatives are being split up to heat our house.) It’s very noisy. As noisy as chainsaws and bulldozers and cement trucks. All of which have been on our property within the last couple weeks.
You finally stop splitting wood and throwing it in the truck. When you throw wood in the truck it goes “ka-thunk!” If it makes the sound “ka-ching!” you’re in trouble. That means you’ve accidentally tossed the wood against the Studebaker sides or fender. Not a good thing. And if you ever heard the sound “ka-crrringle!!!” you might as well run for the house in tears because that would mean you threw a log through the back Studebaker window. I would never do that. Not in a million years. Promise.
Now here’s some noise that goes on day AND night. Serious noise. It’s the sound of chipmunks and squirrels scurrying up and down the oak tree. Out on the branches they dangle, their mouths stuffed with prize acorns. The extra acorns hit the ground “ping!” “ping!” “ping!” and heaven forbid that you’re underneath the oak tree when the acorns fall. It’s like a construction zone. You need a hard hat. It’s treacherous beneath the oak tree in the autumn. Don’t go there.
Speaking of noises in the night…I hesitate to tell you this story. But I have permission, so you shall hear it. My beloved husband likes to stay up late, putzing in his garage until it’s inky black outside. He’s memorized the path between garage and house and can manuever like a bobcat in the dark. Except. Last night he decided to move some of his construction project materials from the garage to the shed. In the dark.
He was watching the tree line and thinking he knew exactly where he was going until…
(Please supply the words you think a man might utter at 1 a.m. in the pitch dark when he stumbles over a rock and bangs up both legs quit badly. Poor fellow. He limped into the house in pain and agony with all sorts of bruises, cuts and contusions.) I asked if it would be possible to photograph his legs to show you all, but he declined.
Yes, the woods can be quite noisy. Yes, indeed.
I incorrectly spelled the name of the above flower when typing out the cutline: Single impatient flower reclines on front porch. That of course gets one thinking. About how nature simply doesn’t fuss. It knows when the leaves must fall, when the flowers wane and die. It knows when the apples ripen and the squash grows its hard thick green acorn-y skin and when the geese fly south. It knows. It refuses to be impatient.
Unlike some of us humans, hurrying and scurrying here and there with ideas of our own, and timetables during which everything must be accomplished.
Autumn is the season of letting go. The trees release their leaf-children. Their firstborn fruits tumble to the earth. The plants and ferns dry up into brown crackling creatures half-resembling their former vibrant green selves. We sigh. Winter lurks closer than we’d like to imagine. Frost prepares her white fingers in some underground burrow, taunting the sun to move lower, to edge away from the earth’s protective blanket.
If the leaves refused to stain red and orange and yellow, would we think autumn so beautiful? If the plants simply shifted from vibrant to brown, would we write poetry to this season? Around here the leaves are turning nicely this fall, not too fast and not too slow. On their own luxurious timetable. When I peered downward from the airplane a couple days ago, the tree-colors looked muted and tame, like an artist mixing the lightest shades of orange and red. Just wait! Give it two weeks! We’ll be in a riot of color, shocking bold color…and give it another month and the stark bones of tree-people will line the horizon watching the ghosts of Halloween stalk the land.
I have another photo to show you, a sign of the season. It’s not a pretty picture, at least for some of us. It’s those darn flies. The kind that invade our northern houses at this time of the year. They’re seeking refuge in every nook and cranny. They’re crawling into holes and through cracks in windows and attempting to find a winter’s hiding place. Why, one asks, do they trap themselves in windows, between the screen and the glass? Surely that’s not where they aim to be. Surely not.
If it was OUR window, I would have opened the screen and let them fly away outdoors. However, knowing flies, they would find another window to squiggle within and then buzz frantically about.
Hmmm, any other photos to show you? Which illustrate the changing seasons? Perhaps only a single mint flower, viewed from above. It stretches on a stalk at least a foot above the mint-leaves down below. This flower has just now formed; it’s a late-comer in September. Imagine how sharp and pungent the mint field smells, how enticing!
Perhaps it’s time for freshly-steeped tea?
This blog could have gone in two other directions. I have been sitting at the computer befuddled for five whole minutes, not sure how to begin. Here were two ideas: Time to Make Zee Hot Salsa: Cha, cha, cha! or Celebrating the Equinox Two Days Late.
The first option seemed way too silly. I am tired of silly, right now. The second blog option seemed way too serious. That wouldn’t do, either. My fingers refused to type. The brain refused to engage. Until, finally, tentatively the words were typed out: Salsa and shadows… That shall have to suffice.
So here we are, two days after the autumnal equinox. The weather outside is so glorious you want to run or bathe or dance in the warmth of the beautiful September “Indian Summer”. The leaves are turning oh-so-slowly. And the garden tomatoes are ready to be plopped in a dutch oven (after dunking in boiler water to remove the skins and cut up) along with garden onions and peppers of numerous varieties and cilantro.
It’s Time. Time for Salsa. Cha-cha-cha! (Sorry, we’ve got a wise guy as an internal voice!) So the tomatoes were picked by a vigilant husband during my absence, and I readied to prepare his salsa. I say “his” because it’s way too hot for me. Therefore, it is his responsibility to cut up the biting little green curling peppers. He did. And decided to sample a bite, to see how hot it might be. He’s still drinking water hours later, Cha-cha-cha!
It’s really been a calm canning year. Usually I’m putting up at least five or six times as much. This feels much more relaxing.
Shadows have been etched on this early autumn day, shadows perhaps foretelling the coming days of winter? This strange thought just crossed through: is winter the shadow of summer? It looks all dark and empty at times, but oh what beauty arises in the shadows!
Of course once you start looking for shadows, they appear everywhere. At least when the sun shines. The following two photos feel nostalgic and bittersweet; the last vestiges of flower-shadows.
Oh, it’s so easy to go outside these days. Indoors, outdoors, it doesn’t matter. You walk in and out of the door dozens of times every day. What a lovely autumn we’re having…
OK, this is the scoop. I’m busy.
It always happens the day after travel. Have to catch up on my two part-time jobs, all the mail, household chores, garden, Everything.
I have no time to ponder a proper blog.
So here’s your two photos of the day:
Barry’s been busy while I’ve been visiting his parents in Georgia. Besides working at his day job, he’s building an addition onto the garage. The purpose of the addition is to house the boat.
Today the cement truck arrived and poured concrete into his pre-formed boards. He now has a floor for the addition.
It’s the latest “baby” of the household, let me tell you! OK, sorry to be so short, but almost everything has been indoor-catching-up today. Outdoor adventure: garden harvesting and talking and eating outside on the deck.
158 words! Amazing. Guess this is how you write a short blog. tee hee… 🙂
Don’t get too used to it!
Almost home now. Only eighty miles of driving before hugging Barry “hello!” and hearing what’s been happening here in the Upper Peninsula during the past five days. But first: must eat dinner and have an outdoors adventure. What better outdoor experience than to sit overlooking Lake Superior here in Marquette, eating the most lovely gourmet salad at L’Attitude and writing a blog? It’s probably 75 degrees and so beautiful! Who would believe this is the first full day of autumn here in North Country?
Part of me still remains back in Georgia, wondering how all the folks are handling the flooding. It’s really dicey in some of the northern Atlanta suburbs. At last count, six to eight people had died in the flooding following torrential downpours for days. The shuttle driver was even a little apprehensive about getting us to the airport safely and on time. He drove over flooded highways yesterday evening and seemed a little cautious.
We all eyed the Yellow River as we passed over. It lapped hungrily just a few inches from the busy highway. “If the Yellow River crests,” our shuttle driver said ominously, “We’ll be cut off from Atlanta.”
Luckily, the river only churned in its red-orange-brown fury of too much rain. We crossed over the bridge and made it safely to the airport. The other problem involves the shallow root system of the trees. With the drenched soil, many big trees are toppling, slamming into houses and roofs. Not a good scenario.
But let’s backtrack to yesterday. Back to the state Botanical Gardens in Athens. Oh, it was a lovely time in between rain showers! And have you noticed what elusive image was captured digitally? A butterfly with wings opened and closed! I have been furtively stalking butterflies all summer, with very little success. They land, nibble on flowers, and depart, all before the camera is properly aimed. Thank goodness for an entire garden of flowers! They grow lazy there, drunk on nectar. And I got a shot at them. Thank you, Butterfly, for cooperating.
The two flights back home proved enjoyable today. No fuss. No real delays. If you have Gypsy blood and travel a lot, you experience all sorts of challenging experiences on airplanes and airports. I could write a book, I tell you, of traveling adventures! How you learn, over and over and over again basic lessons about trust and faith. (Even this morning, when the Mind tried to worry about flooded culverts and bridges and swept-away roads…it was necessary to surrender to something beyond the Mind’s tendency to worry and exaggerate and fuss.)
This statue of a dove of peace in the gardens summarizes this very well. Our minds create peace or war. What do we choose in each moment?
Right now I choose to eat some more salad. Excuse me. Excuse these Lake Superior flies too. Must keep swatting them away. Lovingly, of course.
This black rain-soaked leaf looked so stunning. Almost mystical. Let’s make this leaf our transition between summer and autumn, between Georgia and Michigan,between rain and sunlight. Hope everyone enjoyed their fall equinox!
Every day since Friday we have driven by the University of Georgia fields. Interested car passengers can admire horses, sheep, pigs and cows. My in-laws often point out a giant steer lumbering slowly along the right side of the road, back behind one of the barns. “There’s Tex!” they say.
Today someone suggested I might photograph the steer with his curving long horns. Perhaps it was even I who mumbled something like, “Do you think we should have a photo of old Tex?” Disclaimer: Tex is not his real name. My mother-in-law says his real name is a “sissy” name like Sugar or Honey or something.
However it happened, I found myself out of the car and headed back behind the barn toward the fence. Having completely pushed yesterday’s memories of the cow adventure out of my mind. You think I would have learned. STAY AWAY FROM COWS. You might get soaking wet (it never stops raining down here) or shunned by the giant beasts or heaven knows what.
Today I leaned forward and snapped the rather long-distance shot of Tex and smugly headed back to the car. Until…oowwww!! Pain in the sandal. I pulled off the sandal, fast and discovered…two very angry red ants. Biting my tender northern skin. Alas. No more photographing cows.
Instead let’s go to the more tame state Botanical Gardens. Marion and Jim dropped me off with instructions to phone them on the cell when either a) I was done touring the grounds or b) it started raining yet again.
This is not the first time I’ve stood before this collection of statues. My mother-in-law just informed me it’s called “Recess”. She remembers that because she was an elementary teacher. The following photo is dedicated to her (and to all of you readers who are teachers.)
On to the gardens. You can choose several different areas to explore. There are the following gardens: International, Native Flora, Flower, Shade and Heritage garden. Plus special collections.
I kept a wary eye trained at the horizon and monitored the sprinkles. You have no idea how much it’s rained down here in the past week. People are getting flooded out in northern suburbs of Atlanta. After years of drought, the heavens have opened up and rain continues to pour. Wonder if anyone has thought of building an ark…
But, pardon this mental rambling. I’m wandering in thought beyond the flower and plant photos. Now you shall view a handful. And since there are so many, you’ll see more tomorrow. PLUS a photograph of something I’ve been stalking all summer. Stay tuned for that find tomorrow!
P.S. I called my father-in-law to drive the five minutes over to the botanical gardens and pick me up. We got home and guess what? Pouring rain! Splashing drenching earth-soaking pouring rain! Guess that’s no surprise to any of us…