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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?
Oh what a lovely outdoor time today! The best kind. The kind where you sit outside with old friends and catch up on years which are sailing by on the waves of time.
Even before I reached the outdoor visit, the day brought many old friends into contact. First Mary and John, then Nancy, followed by Sonya, TJ, Evey, Susan and Chrissie. Faces from the near and distant past kept beaming in with beautiful smiles.
Then it was time to drive to Cindy’s house. Some of you blog readers (especially the readers of comments) may already know Cindy Lou. She comments quite regularly. However, we haven’t even seen each other face-to-face in months and months. Certainly not since the beginning of this blog. Even though we live across the bay from one another and we drive by her house every time we travel to Houghton, we rarely run into one another.
My daughter, Kiah, and Cindy’s daughter, Jen met in Junior High band. They became close friends in junior high, doing so many different things together. So of course I met Cindy during those years of transporting Kiah in and out of town. However, in the last several years since the girls graduated and moved away to the big cities, we’ve rarely seen one another. It’s been one of the joys of this blog to be connecting again.
AND…as you’ve already gathered by looking at this pictures…Jen has married and had a little girl in the ensuing years. Isn’t Kenzie adorable? Her blond curls are so cute. And just look at the following photo:
We chatted and caught up on dozens of stories and happenings during our time together. Kenzie kept running off in one direction or another with Mom Jen (or sometimes Grandma Cindy) in hot pursuit. She fell–plop!–into a big silver canning pot at one point and screwed up her face to protest. Grandma rescued her immediately, but not until after we all laughed at her antics.
Besides chatting, we needed to look at Cindy’s gardens. She’s another great gardener. There are treasures spread out all around her house and property. Don’t you like this piled rock garden wall? Doesn’t it look soothing? I am wondering how she keeps her dogs from knocking them down…
And finally, just because we can, another close-up photo of a flower. I forget the name. If Cindy shares the name in a comment, you’ll see it beneath the beautiful garden flower. Love the delicate purple strands.
Picture this scene. It’s still fairly dark outside. You’re sleeping in bed, covered only with a sheet, due to the steamy summer night. In the distance thunder begins to rumble. And rumble. And rumble.
Closer it comes! Lightening streaks through the bedroom window. Flashes of silvery light illuminate everything. The thunder now claps resoundingly, almost urging you to get up, even though it’s barely 5:30 a.m.
Then you hear the whooosh of rain falling. All around, outside. The rain pours so hard you can imagine the wildflowers and garden lettuces shivering with the intensity. Suddenly…the dreaded sound…icy pellets of hail spitting against the house. Clink, clink, clink. You try not to think of the garden vegetables, but your husband is already groaning about the possible hail damage.
As quickly as the hail starts, it stops. The rain continues to fall outside, but you drift (almost) back toward sleep. Except you really can’t return to the depths of sleep. So instead you enjoy the lulling patters of rain and thank the Universe for the moisture.
OK, let’s now move into awake day-time mode. I checked the rain gauge and we received over 1.5 inches of rain during that early-morning excitement! Very nice.
Lots of plants lay sprawled tipped over on their sides. The garden lettuce and spinach look a little flattened, but they are perking up as the day progresses. They seem to be shimmering in the hot sun. It’s 85 degrees just past mid-day.
The kids–although should one be calling those near the age of thirty “kids”?–picked some wild strawberries last night out by the road. Christopher’s girlfriend had never seen strawberries that tiny. They are the sweetest taste, though, the wild berries growing in between the daisies and the buttercups.
I was going to put another flower photo in next, a picture of an orange hawk-weed. However, Chris just examined the photo selection and requested a viewing of the summer sky. He, perhaps, is getting bored with flower shots. I told him straight, though. How in winter all there is…is snow. Then in early summer…blooms. Later, we’ll get in the fruit & vegetable mode. Finally, we’ll get bored by autumn leaves before returning to the vigilance of snow. Everything in their season, you know. I’m sure he was impressed by the explanation. He still wanted to see the sky rather than flowers.
We’re taking the kids out to dinner up in Houghton within a few hours. We may wander along the boardwalk near Chassell once again. We shall assuredly enjoy this sultry late June evening. We will not be thinking about our long winter. And if anyone complains, “It’s too hot!” we will reminisce about the brave hardy souls who jumped into the Portage Canal for a Polar Plunge on that 4 degree afternoon in January! Click here if you want to read that story!
So you’ve got lots of pictures of flowers. That’s cool. But where are the photos of bears, moose, fishers, wolves, coyotes, porcupines, skunks and beaver? Where are the pictures of mountain lions, spotted fawns, bobcat, weasels, raccoons and frogs?
If you live in the woods, don’t you see animals all the time? C’mon, you’re stepping outside every day…WHERE ARE THE ANIMALS?
Ummm, I don’t know. I keep looking. Every single day. Wanting to see a bear, just maybe not nose-to-nose. Maybe the kind of bear you can photograph hunching beautifully out the driver’s window. Maybe a moose munching on grass at the end of our road. Wouldn’t that be nice? Instead…this is the only animal (besides birds, squirrels, chipmunks, bumblebees and mosquitoes) that I’ve seen lately:
I did see a spotted fawn a couple days ago. The poor little thing started across the road and I (somewhat shame-faced admit) pulled the car over to the side of the road and followed it into the woods. “C’mon, little fawn…time for a picture!” but it proved more wily and smarter than the photographer. Saw another fawn and its mama about a half mile down the road from the mailbox at lunchtime. They stopped and we eyed each other before they sauntered back into the forest.
The fawns are usually born around Memorial Day weekend. Their mamas will leave them curled up in a ball in the woods. If you stumble across one, the fawn will remain motionless and stare at you with big wide eyes. We’re instructed not to pet them, not to come close. Instead we stare back with even bigger wider eyes until common sense says “leave, now!” Now the fawns are growing up, and following their mamas everywhere. Sometimes they get confused and remain frozen in place in the middle of the road. Then it’s good manners to wait until they decide to move.
On the way home from downstate I thought about sharing with you my one and only moose sighting story. It was back in the late 1980’s. The kids and I were driving home from Marquette when this huge awkward–what could it be? a gangly horse? a cow? (the mind sometimes refuses to cooperate when startled)– MOOSE loped in front of our vehicle. Our mouths dropped open and we slowed. Within five seconds of the moose crossing every vehicle approaching or behind us pulled off to the side. At least a half dozen people with cameras dangling from their hands ran after that moose into the woods. I couldn’t believe it! How could people be that silly? Were they nuts? (now, all these years later, I would be the first one following that moose into the woods….)
So, thinking about sharing that twenty year old moose tale, lamenting that you rarely see a moose around these parts, Barry gleefully announces all the animal sightings he’s experienced in the past week or so. And, leading the list: A moose at the end of our road. And from our deck a bear cub in the ravine right behind our house. And a partridge which hit the side of his car so hard that feathers flew up everywhere.
OK, I hope you all have enjoyed the flower photos. Sorry about the lack of animals, except for that rather strange-looking dead wasp. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled. Prepared to dash off into the woods at any moment…
Before I start sharing about Nancy’s gardens, we have a little blog housekeeping to do. First of all, today has been 179 days since the beginning of this outdoor commitment. Hurray! It’s going well (except for that evening in Munising at 9 p.m. in the rain last week. That was a challenge I’m still remembering…)
Second, the contest to give away a free nature book ends this Sunday, June 21st, the anniversary of my six month commitment. Anyone still wanting to enter should click here and make a comment. Doesn’t have to be a fancy comment. Just a comment about one of your favorite experiences in nature. Otherwise, one of the winners will be Cindy, Amy, Melinda, Gerry, Emma, Margo, Deb or Sahlah. Good luck, Participants! It makes me so happy that you’ve entered.
OK, on to Nancy’s Magic Gardens.
I’m calling them “magic” because they are soooooo relaxing. Here’s what happened this morning. Nancy called me at work with excitement in her voice. The azaleas were blooming orange and beautiful in her front yard. I should stop and take a photo. They truly were magnificent. (Nancy is so in love with flowers and gardening. She gets that soft note in her voice when she starts talking about flowers blooming.)
Last winter we did a photo shoot at her house, admiring the gardens covered with snow. Anyone who didn’t view that blog can click here and remember the days when the first winter-melt arrived back in February.
She was headed to work, but she invited me to stop anyway on my way home from work. So I pulled up and started snapping photos. Then, decided to sit in one of her garden chairs. And sit. And sit. It felt so peaceful. The birds chirped, distant wind chimes rang, bees buzzed on flowers. The scent from the blooms smelled magnificent. Suddenly I felt very very drowsy…
Now I really should call her and ask her the names of these flowers. I haven’t a clue. What is so appealing about her gardens is the way she mixes in the flowers and the human decorations. Aren’t the bride and groom way cool? Isn’t that trike the sweetest thing you ever saw? Every time you turn a corner there’s something interesting to intrigue the eye.
Part of me would love to create gardens like this. Filled with natural spiritual signs and symbols. Filled with wind chimes and rocks and shells and flowers and art. But, so far, I haven’t the patience. If a spare moment presents itself, I would rather scribble together sentences and paragraphs.
In the meantime, Nancy’s the gardening queen. And she’s creating lots of magic…
The Anishnabe (Ojibway) call this June moon “The Strawberry Moon”. Barry and I debated that today. Either (a) this month’s name came from Ojibway living a LOT further south or (b) they meant Strawberry Blossom Moon.
Our white strawberry blossoms smile up in full bloom. We won’t be munching juicy ripe delectable strawberries until the July moon is thinking about its encore performance. Doesn’t a quart of fresh organic sweet berries sound fantastic? Maybe the Anishnabe were dreaming of strawberries and attempted to speed up time with this month’s name.
You might call this month “Planting Flower Month”. Every year, about the first weekend in June, folks from downstate travel to the Huron Bay Tavern near Skanee (also fondly known as Billy da Finn’s, although I don’t know why) and sell baskets of flowers, tomatoes, and assorted other vegetables. We always drive over there and find at least $20 worth of flowers and plants to plant. (This is after we’ve found lots of other local vegetables which we’ve been curing in the sun and taking inside at night for a couple weeks now.)
Here’s the rule. If you plant your tomatoes and peppers and beans and zucchini before June 10th: watch out. Frost might just attack those tender plants. Barry’s birthday was yesterday and he thinks the date of planting these warmer-weather vegetables and flowers is June 6th.
So guess what we’ve been doing today? Planting!
Last night we received a little rain shower. Not a lot, but enough to wet the ground and water the plants. The dandelion puffballs looked a tad soaked in the morning, almost like they had a little shampoo.
The forest around our house looks leafy and green. Spiffed up in its summer clothes.
So we enjoyed a lovely birthday party this evening. (Barry’s band played a gig last night so the official celebration was postponed until today.) Dinner menu: tamale pie and green tossed salad. Very delicious. Barry didn’t want a cake, but kindly picked some lupines for our table. He opened cards and packages and I…oops!…forgot to sing him Happy Birthday. Hmmm, will do that the minute he walks in the door! Promise!
P.S. OH MY GOODNESS! If the quality of these photos is acceptable, I am in seventh heaven tonight. Gerry of Torch Lake Views suggested compressing these photos on WordPress to save space. She said it would also make posts load faster. You can’t IMAGINE how fast these photos loaded. Two seconds! I am so very thrilled by this new possibility. Thanks, Gerry.
The Annishnabe called the May moon “The Blossom Moon”. Some other Native American names for this month include When Women Weed Corn, When the Ponies Shed their Shaggy Hair, Idle Moon, Planting Moon (or literal translation: Putting it in a Hole Moon), When the Horses Get Fat, Migratory Geese Moon and the Moon when the Little Flowers Die.
Our Little Flowers are just sprouting up every place you can imagine. I’m wondering how they’re enjoying the weather today. IT SNOWED!! Twice. Once this morning, about 10:30 a.m., as we were sitting around the kitchen table. We looked outside and, sure enough, flakes of snow drifted lazily to the ground. And then not so lazily. But they weren’t easily photographed, so you’ll have to take my very sorry word for it. The thermometer lingered in the 30’s all day and I wanted to stay inside again. But found the warm coat and ventured outside and of course it proved enjoyable.
I loved this photo of the burdock prickly burs taken on the leek-hunting day. They seemed to shimmer in the sun. They’re not so fun when they stick on your pants, your shirt, your boots. Some of them caught in my sneaker shoelaces and this morning it was necessary to pick them out. I don’t know if anyone has eaten burdock root? It’s an extremely healthy addition to soups and stews when chopped fine and simmered a long time. (especially good in vegetarian split pea soup where it imparts a smoky flavor.)
Speaking of wild edibles, the above dandelion greens were dinner. In addition to a few other dishes. Barry was kind of wrinkling his nose, as our dandelions last year proved a tad too bitter. But we simmered a bunch, salt & peppered it, and prepared to eat our vitamins. When…surprise!…they were mild and delicious. We’ve even decided to harvest more for tomorrow night’s dinner. (If you can pick them young enough, they still taste mild. If they’re too old…wait til next year.) They provide incredible healing power, energy and cleansing after a long winter and should be eaten by all. Yep. That’s what I think.
Continuing on the food theme, I’ve begun cleaning out our oregano patch. You have to break off all the old stalks and clean up leaves and toss everything in the woods. I was carrying the stalks off to discard when this sweet duo appeared. Dried oregano flowers, pressed in heavy books, can also be glued onto card stock to make pretty greeting cards. My mother-in-law even framed her oregano card!
This grey rock with the deep rich green grasses sweeping upward along it seemed somehow artistic. Or poetic. It was a good break from cleaning up the perennial flower garden to admire the rock.
Looks like flowers and shrubs aren’t the only things blossoming! We’ll be seeing baby robins in the nest one of these days.