The cicadas have clicked and buzzed in harmony since late July. August came and went with floods at the beginning of the month and ended with a drought. Now it is September. It is the month that summer fades into autumn. The songbirds, swallow tail butterflies, and honeybees still gather at the fountain for a drink. For our feathered friends, it is also a communal bath. A refreshing rain cooled the air, and gave the thirsty earth a drink. My morning walks start a little later as the sun waits to come up as the moon slowly leaves the sky. There is a rustling with the flowering bushes and leaves in the trees when the wind shifts, some days blessed with the cooler northern air. Lush greens are giving way to hazel. Early autumn colors of yellow, orange, and red are seen. I gathered a handful of leaves to put in water as I walked home one morning. The evening stroll in the yard brought me to resilient blooms holding on until the first frost, or my snipping shears. The imperfect yet resilient petals show bug bites and drying tips, but still the hues brighten my September day. I am reminded of God’s promise, “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” ~ Psalms 46:5
We have had such a wonderful spring for the garden greens, a full 3 months worth of mild temperatures and salads for at least 3 families. The summer heat cranked up this past 2 weeks, and the arugula bolted. Last week I pinched a few of the flowering buds, but as the temperatures increased so did the flowers on arugula. We finally cut the longer stemmed arugula and gathered enough stems for two vases. The fragrance was pleasantly earthy in the cottage for a couple days. The arugula gets bitter after bolting, so we say goodbye to our spring crop, and hope for a mild autumn to plant more. The lettuces loved the shade of the arugula, but will soon cease to produce due to the hot summer heat. That, too, will be an autumn crop if the weather permits.
This week the tropical storm brought Missouri cooler air. The windows are open for a welcoming breeze inside the cottage. The mustard & ketchup roses and yellow lilies grace our table and kitchen window. The herbs flourish to my delight, flavor enhancements and more nutrients to my dishes and drinks. What tops a glass of iced mint tea on a summer evening on the patio? The pleasures of gardening are many. And there is the more cynical view of gardening I had to laugh at. The other day I found this on a t-shirt online ad, “I garden so I don’t choke people. Save a life, send mulch.” With today’s societal woos, no wonder more people are picking up the hobby, rather I should say “the therapy of gardening”. The climates, weather and society, change from day to day, as author Madeliene L’Engle has been quoted, “If there is to be any peace or reason, we have create it in our own hearts and homes.” Have your heart and mind at peace and it will protect you and those around you.
My haven is home. So blessed during this stay-at-home order Dean and I have been given opportunity to care for our home and yard. Our home gives back so much more. And spring has been so pleasant this year, very much like spring should be. Sunshine, rains, a random storm brews up, cool mornings, and warmer afternoons. We had a couple of days it felt more like summer, but it cooled down after the rains. And then a few frost warning mornings, but it never came. Better safe than sorry, we covered our annuals and perennials. Kind of like the corona virus for us. We take the precautions: masks, social distancing, and extra sanitation in our home and when we are out.
These mild temperatures and regular watering from the rains has provided such a green haven of leaves, grasses, mosses, and foliage. Mid-spring the dogwood, azalea, clematis, irises and the flowering trees, bushes, and stemmed blooms are clothed in white or more showy colors of fuchsia, paler pinks, purples, blues, oranges, yellows, and reds. The peonies are exceptional this year. The song birds are plentiful. Their songs divine. The morning doves, robins, finches of purple and yellow, grosbeaks, cardinals, indigo buntings, nuthatches, and sparrows of many species come to our feeders and reside in the birdhouses or bushes. Hawks and owls call out throughout the day and night as their homes are nearby. Of course, families of squirrels and rabbits in the neighborhood are for the taking by these birds of prey. Occasionally, it is a morning dove for a meal.
Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest; Home-keeping hearts are happiest, For those that wander they know not where Are full of trouble and full of care; To stay at home is best. Weary and homesick and distressed, They wander east, they wander west, And are baffled and beaten and blown about By the winds of the wilderness of doubt; To stay at home is best. Then stay at home, my heart, and rest; The bird is safest in its nest; O’er all that flutter their wings and fly A hawk is hovering in the sky; To stay at home is best. Song by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I awoke at 6:30am this morning. I saw some sunlight peeping through the window blinds. Actual sun after several days of rain. Checking the sky, a front of clouds is slowly moving from the southwest. Rain on its way once again. I think I can manage to get to the farm 30 minutes away to check my garden bed in the greenhouse/screenhouse before the rain starts. I was hoping the county highway was open, no flood waters to prevent my route to Boone Hollow Farm. I stole the opportunity by myself as Dean was attending to his son’s dogs and house, and will be home sometime late morn. I left Dean a note on the table just in case he beat me back to the cottage.
I arrived to an overgrown gravel road. No mowing had been done for a couple of weeks. Too wet to mow. And the small creek was swollen and flowing over the rocks, so I parked right near the county highway, and walked into the farm. My sandaled feet relished the coolness of the fresh rain water in the creek. The walk up the gravel road and hill to the greenhouse was sopping wet, quite muddy. The arugula and leaf lettuces are wildly overgrown; bolting, flowering, and forming their seed pods. My herbs have finally taken off with the summer heat and humidity. The cherry tomato plants are doing well, a couple have had their tops nibbled off by the deer or coyotes. Plenty more started forming their little yellow blooms, the fruit to follow soon. This morning the wild and cultivated meet together at Deanna’s Cottage …
Household and yard projects ruled the weekend. Dean and I managed to get a couple of walks in with Midnight between chores. On Saturday Dean cleaned and prepped the concrete slab for the laminate flooring to be installed this coming week in our house addition. While he did that I raked twigs and leaves, remnants of autumn and winter. The winds seem to blow the gum balls and pine needles from the neighbor’s trees our way. Cannot complain too much as these neighbor’s trees attract an owl that lives in the neighborhood. All the brown rubbish filled the compost bin, and then some. So that is just the front yard.
The back yard is one huge mess with the room addition project. The yard needs to be leveled and new grass seeded. Dean and I picked up huge tree roots and rocks unearthed from the foundation dig up. We continued discussion on making a small retaining wall, a rock swale, and small patio area. Piles of gray and brown sit curbside for the city’s bulky trash pickup this week; twigs, limbs, scrap lumber and old pipes. Seasons. Making way for spring colors. Greener grass; purple, pink, and white blooms; and the perennials being brought outside from the semi-heated garage one warm weekend before Easter. See what the March winds bring until April. Welcome Spring! So happy you came Today!
Spring seemed to arrive in Missouri early this year. Grass and flowers bulbs sprouted up out of the ground, and we are not even to March yet. My vegetable and herb bed was prepped with rich organic compost, and spring greens and peas sowed on Monday, earliest ever for Deanna Greens And Garden Art. The pink tulip trees and yellow daffodils bloomed in color this week. And then … woo, the north wind blew in the arctic cold and snow flurries on Friday. Winter is still among us this weekend. Those daffodils swayed with the wind on Friday, but with hope they will continue to stand and bloom even in the chill of winter. Resilience. That is what we are called to this very day, and for a season. Isaiah 42:3 states “He won’t break a bruised reed. He won’t quench a dimly burning wick. He will faithfully bring justice.” Hot tea, a warm Sunday breakfast, and God’s Word keeps this wick burning this day.
My cup overflows with green leaves and bursting color-filled blooms. The early morning silhouette shows plump pots, planters, and wagons, crowding the gardens and yards. Whatever vessel the spring plantings went into are now filled with branches reaching for the September sun. The daytime heat has been high this first week of the ninth month, but is to cool down a bit by Labor Day Monday. Yesterday’s evening soak from the garden hose did the green life well. This morning our feathered friends thank me for their filled bird bath while the crickets, grasshoppers, and bug life hum their late summer song.
I stay home with cleaning and cooking this Saturday. Garden fresh green beans, herb-red potato salad, and beef patties on the dinner menu with a dessert pie out so to catch up with some family this evening. The herbs will have to wait at the greenhouse another day. I will sing a tune or two and say a few prayers while vacuuming and cleaning the toilet …
Earlier this year I accomplished a major feat, paying off my debts accumulated from years ago before my divorce. Now my household budget is blooming, looking brighter everyday. I am determined to stay in the black with my green habit. Red blooms only, no budget in the red! Did you follow all those colors and what I am saying? It means I am gardening on a budget, small budget at that. With three grown children getting married this year outside of our town, cuts are made before the flowers bloom. Dean and I need to budget our time and funds with our growing adventures. We chose to not go to the farmers’ markets. We can concentrate on the redesign of Deanna Greens And Garden Art rather than the market. We will continue to grow organically. Dean and I’s health matters too much, so no short-cuts there. The founder of Missouri’s organic Mueller Farm, where our friends at EarthDance are housed has a sign displayed which says, “Health begins in the soil.” BTW: EarthDance has a class they are offering at a nominal fee called “Health Begins In The Soil” for St. Louis locals in May. Checkout their web page: http://www.earthdancefarms.org. Dean and I may see you there as we could use a refresher course. More vegetables and herbs than perennials will grow in our newly constructed raised beds made with 1 part good quality compost, 1 part good quality organic soil, and 1 part sand for proper drainage. The rich soil and the non-treated lumber to make the raised beds are our most expensive investment in 2014. Our hardy red geraniums will continue to bloom in big pots this growing season as they have all winter under our plant lights in our semi-heated garage. Sunny zinnia and marigold blooms will welcome parishioners and guests at the church once again this spring and summer. In about 2 weeks our gourd seedlings will go into the ground underneath recycled metal arches situated near the greenhouse, trusting we will be frost-free by then. If we have a bumper crop of gourds, we may venture to a farmer’s market or two this autumn. Gardeners and weekend farmers, how do you cut cost with your green adventures?
Today, 6 days later, it is 60 degrees warmer! The 12″ of snow has melted, with shrinken dirty piles at the end of parking lots and along the curbs now. Our Midnight comes inside from the yard muddy. My face is finally normal size, I can see the outline of my cheek bones in the mirror once again. The antibiotics my doctor finally ordered are healing my sinus infection. Our garage tomato plants continue to have blossoms and fruit produced despite the frigid cold air a few days ago. The plant lights and oil heater must keep the plants warm enough in their winter home. My plants are daily reminders of little miracles. At Church this morning we sang “The Bread of Life” by Rory Cooney. A reminder of the bigger miracles …
I myself am the bread of life.
You and I are the bread of life.
Taken and blessed, broken and shared by Christ
That the world might live.
This bread is spirit, gift of the Maker’s love,
and we who share it know that we can be one:
a living sign of God in Christ.
Here is God’s kingdom given to us as food.
This is our body, this is our blood:
a living sign of God in Christ.
Lives broken open, stories shared aloud,
Become a banquet, a shelter for the world:
a living sign of God in Christ.
My husband, Dean and I at times wonder if the grass is greener elsewhere. Not sure where, but just elsewhere. We consider relocation, a fresh start as a second-marriage couple thoroughly in love with each other. We talk about a place called “our own”. Not raising young children any more, and in a few weeks an empty nest once again. A new beginning and more discoveries is what we sense. Is it a matter of a different house other than where I raised my children, or is it a different town, and/or new positions in a different area altogether? I came across a couple of young birds this morning enroute to another building on campus. One drank from a tiny puddle near the street curb. I said “little bird look over there, there is a fountain full of water.” Why drink from a small street puddle, when a fountain of fresh water is just one building over? Is the water fresher on the other side of the bushes, the grass greener on the other side of the fence?
Dean and I traveled to Arkansas this past weekend for a family wedding. Neither of us had been in southern Arkansas before this trip. We ventured off onto country highways from I-55 to camp at a state park on Friday night enroute to the Monticello, Arkansas wedding for Saturday evening. Cotton, rice, corn, and winter wheat fields dotted the landscape between rivers, sloughs, and bogs. Crop dusters flew over us like crows, leaving green pellets of God only knows what on the highway. The dull gray soil says it needs sustainable products rather than more synthetics. Stuttgart, Arkansas is the duck and rice capital of the world according to their signs. I do not want to venture on the validity of that statement, but it was picturesque after witnessing some desolate, impoverish homesteads before arriving in this prosperous town. Crepe myrtles, magnolia trees, snowball bushes, yuccas, cactus, and water lilies dotted the landscape with green and contrasting color as we entered into central Arkansas. The state park camp was so typical, inexpensive and loved by the other travelers and locals. Father’s Day weekend was not too terribly crowded, though plenty of children bicycling and playing ball nearby probably while their fathers wetted a fishin’ line. The bugs galore are summer-long tenants rather than visitors such as ourselves. I am chewed alive by mosquitoes, and the chiggers found me within minutes. Instead of fighting the insect population I decided to read inside the zipped screen of the tent on the comforts of the air mattress. As soon as dusk came, the clothes came off to cool down. My eyelids were shut within minutes after sundown. Early in the night a raccoon visited camp rattling a cup of ice we left outside our tent door. The people of new localities always interest me. The polite southern culture resignates in Arkansas. “Yes, ma’am, no ma’am”, the young folk say with sincerity. It was nice to meet some local folks at the wedding. The bride’s and groom’s families and friends blended well for a festive occasion. Good food, music, dancing, and laughter throughout the evening. An oldy but goody song brought Dean and I to our feet, and a Spanish-flavored tune just about sent me over Dean’s shoulder. I told my dance partner, “none of that fancy stuff, I need to be able walk off the dance floor tonight.” Castanets were in order, but none to be found. The Saturday and Sunday night hotel stays were restful.
Today reality hits, the work week is in full bloom. My more-than-busy Missouri life needs to change. Working 7 days a week with three jobs is much for anyone. Demands increase at work, with no pay raises. Change is in order, and around the corner. Let’s see what comes.