Sunday, August 16, 2009

A 'blue-tiful' morning and other views of August

Summer nearly over? Teachers and students starting to think about getting back into the classrooms (or already there in some parts of the country)? We even have a few trees already starting to turn into their autumn colors here in Michigan. How can that be?

I decided I needed an end of summer breather from all the "heavy" stuff in many of my other postings. You probably do, too. So grab a glass of iced tea or just cold water steeped with fresh mint leaves, take a break, put your feet up, and enjoy some of my favorite images of mid-August.

Picking up friends on the way to blueberry picking. Of course, first we have to stop to admire each other's gardens.

Blueberry bushes at The Blueberry Patch in Grass Lake, MI. I'm sorry the photo does not do justice to the load of berries. It has been a fantastic year for picking! These are all organically grown blueberries. I asked the owner one year what conventional growers got by spraying that he didn't. Without missing a beat, he responded this way; "Twice the yield and half the flavor!". I believe him. The taste just explodes in my mouth.
Worth the price ($3.50/pound) and worth the drive.

My second picking this year, 7# this time, 5# last time. We gorged ourselves on fresh berries, freezing the rest. We'll use them in our smoothies all winter long, plus mix into muffins, put on top of cereal, sprinkle on top of a bowl of our home-made applesauce, and even pour a few frozen ones out of the bag right into our mouths for a small sweet treat.

Yes, it was a "blue-tiful" morning. Both friends want to go next year, too. I love having events to look forward to. It's a date!

Next, a few scenes from our community garden. It is "mess" this year with so much going on with our new house, but we still love it and are harvesting. Sometimes we do what I call "speed-gardening". Stop by, weed, weed, weed "the worst" and harvest, harvest, harvest "the best". A far cry from how I like to garden, but it is the best we can do this year. Next year we'll finally be gardening right out of back door - My husband and I can't wait!

Sunflowers, planted as poles for the beans.

Beans that the ground hog has left alone this year!

Big, beautiful and sweet wild blackberries right outside of our garden plot. My younger son was home for a few weeks and did the picking of these. Yum, yum. He is very experienced at foraging, doing the same with marionberries where he lives in the Seattle area.

This is a soybean plant being grown for the young soybeans called edamame. First of all the groundhog ate most of these baby plants and stepped on others, so I was not too hopeful for my first attempt at growing edamame. So imagine my surprise when I pulled away from weeds to not only find a few plants that were growing but actually had pods on them. I'm sorry the pods are not more visible, but they are right in the center of the photo - woo hoo!

One day's eclectic and beautiful harvest from our community garden: blackberries, bunching onions, green beans, late rhubarb, young tender kale leaves, the first cherry tomatoes, and baby bok choy

A few photos from our current home. I am looking at everything in our yard knowing this will be our last August where we have lived for 22 years. There is quite a bit of nostalgia doing this, especially knowing we have put 22 years of work into our home and yard.

Our one small cardinal flower next to our butterfly bush. This area of our backyard is butterfly and hummingbird haven, with just these two plants!

August would not be August without having the summer breezes blow the intoxicating smell through my front screen door of the flowering bushes called "summer sweet". I will definitely need to plant these by the front door of our new home. I'm sorry that this is only a photo and not a smell!

Our one phlox is finally blooming. It is not in a spot that has full sun so it blooms later than others I see in my neighborhood. Black-eyed susans to the left of the phlox and wood poppies (they bloom in the spring through June) to the right.

Our front yard hummingbird and butterfly gardens. Goldenrod and asters are just starting to come into bloom for the end of year blossoms. This year I have weeded but done no "trimming" to keep the plants a bit more tidy. We are trying to hold them back off the sidewalk with string and bean poles, only somewhat successfully.

One lone mum plant starting to bloom, somewhat "pooping out". I expect that it is tired since it came with us from Illinois 22 years ago. Still it gives us good memories of our first home.

We have seen up to six frogs at a time this summer in our very small back-yard pond. I love to count the "plops" that I hear when I walk out the back door. I waited a while and then snuck up on this little guy to catch a photo of him after he hopped back up onto the stone edging from his hiding place.

Honeybee on our mint flowers right off our deck in a "confined spot" so it does not take over all the other gardens. This is the very first year we have seen honeybees in our yard. We are wondering where the hive is!

Lastly, a few views of our new home. SO MUCH to do. Only someone with a critical eye and good memory would be able to see the progress we have made. I think most people only see how much there is still to do. :-) The contrast between the 22 years of work we have put into our current home and the 22 years of neglect that this home and land had is striking and a bit sad. However, we have arrived to bring back the beauty and love that surely were here at one time (at the very least, must have been hoped for).

Speaking of hope, our son found two asparagus spears (in August!) in an area that clearly had been a former garden, but was now so wild and overgrown that we finally just had it mowed. Hey, hey - a sign of hope! No one plants asparagus without long-term hopes, as it takes 3 years after planting the roots to actually harvest the spring-time spears. Thus, it is very clear to us that the former family of this foreclosed home did love their land and had high hopes before their life took an unfortunate turn.

Tansy (my first), just starting to bloom out the back door.

Trumpet vine (also my first). The plant is overgrown with other "stuff" and badly needs attention, but I can't wait to liberate it! There are also grape vines (not pictured) that need liberating.

Wild marjoram blooming. It is everywhere! And our honeybees love it. :-)

Our first "outbuilding", my husband's beehive. You can just see the smoke. My younger son (on the right) is the observer, his first time to see our honeybees. Yes, they love love love the flowers on the marjoram, wild thyme, and flowers that are everywhere on this land.

Just some of the garlic harvested from our community garden that is now drying in the garage at our farm, to be planted at our farm this fall.

When we take the time to "ramble" over our land, this is how Kaya explores. Yes, her head is constantly "in the bush". So far, nothing has poked back at her. However, the guard bees at the entry to the bee hive did communicate to her, even without stinging, that she was not welcome. She looks too "bear-like" for their comfort. :-)

Kaya keeping an eye on me as I keep trying to clear the path and tidy the sidewalk (weed, weed, weed) to the front door. Yes, we'll paint the door a different color. Although not pictured, poison ivy is everywhere, which slows me down a bit with the weeding.

Shade Dog - "You work in the sun, Mom. I'm no fool!"
We decided to name the batch of beer we bottled at home this past weekend "Shade Dog". Although we are still figuring out just how water is leaking into the basement of the house, one thing we'll be doing is adding water access in the basement so my husband can continue with his delicious hobby of home beer-brewing.

Not pictured is the invasive purple loose-strife and phragmytes on our property or the adjacent land. We are slowly "attacking" that, too. My younger son and I are going to work on the purple loose-strife this afternoon, one more time, before he flies back home to Seattle tonight to get ready to start his third year teaching 8th grade science (with the addition of a new 6th grade class, too). The time together has been precious, 2 weeks, it just flew by. I don't know if we'll be so fortunate to have him (or our older son) alone for so long again. What a grateful mom I am to have had to opportunity to keep far enough ahead of cancer to enjoy this special time. :-)

We don't have many "lazy days" of summer, but we certainly have many enjoyable ones. I hope you do, too!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Jen said...

Beautiful pictures, Diana. Even if it's not a lazy August, it seems like a lovely one. Ours has been very busy but very good, too.

Kateri said...

Lovely photos. I loved reading about your new property. It is so exciting to liberate plants, isn't it?