Category Archives: Seasons

As the Seasons Turn

My father’s extended family hails from the north woods, so even though I grew up in St. Louis, I experienced the Minnesota/Wisconsin climate from an early age. When it was time to look at colleges I announced to my parents that I would only go to a college in Minnesota or Wisconsin.  When college/grad school was over for me and wasband, we hightailed it to the Twin Cities.  I’ve been here every since.

This morning, I noticed it was snowing at about 8 a.m. and my mood jumped up a couple of notches just seeing it. I love snow and cold.  Spring, summer and autumn are nice but winter is my season of choice.  I love visiting tropical locales but I don’t think I would happy in a place that didn’t have winter.

I took pictures all morning and even though I knew that snow in mid-October wouldn’t last, I was a little wistful when it stopped around noon.

Of course, this is seriously early for snow, so I didn’t start pulling out big sweaters and coats just yet. And I still wore my zorries to the gym and the grocery store!

What is your favorite seasonal transition? Have you transitioned to your winter clothes yet?

Truth in Advertising

I am always amazed at the deceitfulness of people who sell plants through catalogs and greenhouses.   It is easy to be fooled  into buying plants that just won’t work in your climate zone  if you don’t know your flora.  The most recent scam up here is the marketing of hydrangea macrophllya,  a group of hydrangeas that just won’t grow here but are probably the prettiest ones for stunning shades  of pink and blue. They are tempting, but it is just too cold here, and unless you are prepared to mulch pretty heavily in the winter, they just won’t do much after the first year. We have tremendous luck with hydrangea arborescens (the big, white, poofy ones) and hydrangea paniculata (ones with pointy flowers that often turn pink at the end of summer).

Hybrid tea roses were marketed for years as good to zone 4, but now are sold with the disclaimer that they are only good to zone 5.  They really only do well here if you cap them with rose cones in the fall and mulch heavily. We used to have lots of tea roses, but we got pretty tired of all the fuss. We planted Morden roses from Manitoba instead.  They are very cold hardy.  We have a few hybrid teas in the yard that do well since we seem to have created a micro-climate in the yard with shrubs and fences that keeps temperatures a little warmer than in other parts of the yard.  The pictures below show a hybrid tea we never cap or mulch that comes back every year and is a really stunner.


A couple of years ago we bought two Morden roses that were supposed to be only four feet tall at the most.  One turned out to be a climbing rose that had multiple, six foot long branches.  It was not labeled as a climbing rose. It was in a part of the yard that wouldn’t have supported a trellis, so it  flopped around and got tangled in everything around it. It mercifully died last winter so we dug it up, providing room for one nearby that we assumed was a four feet tall rose as it had been labeled. As you can see in the next photo, it, too, is starting to act like something else.


It is a little hard to see, but the rose put out a couple of stems that were at least seven feet tall.  Husband cut them off after I took the photo. I hope this was just a fluke.  I just don’t know who in the plant world to trust anymore.

Who do you trust?  When have you had something that didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to? When has a plant fooled you?

For a Very Important Date

I’ve bitten off quite a bit to chew for Solstice this year; my card design is quite…um, robust, shall we say. No other word for the situation.  I’ve been having dreams about being late to places recently and I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m feeling behind schedule.  I’ve decided I need to do at least an hour a day in my studio for the next few weeks to try to get on track.  As I’ve said here before, this is difficult because once I get home from work, I’m basically worthless without a looming deadline.  I’m hoping that saying to myself “you have to do an hour a day” will make it seem like a looming deadline!

When was the last time you bit off more than you could chew?

Silence of the Canes

I’m a chatter – I freely admit it. No life stories, but a comment for the cashier, a quick quip for others waiting in line with me, hello to the librarian. Normally I pick raspberries with my BFF Sara.  We chat away while we pick and if there are folks on the other side of the canes, we usually talk with them a bit.

This year schedules just didn’t coincide so I ended up at the raspberry patch on my own. I was sent down a long row of canes with just one lone gentleman on the other side.  He had just started as well and we were picking at about the same speed.  We even, by unspoken agreement, shared the “in between” space.  Sometimes he would pick berries from the middle and sometimes he left them for me.

But he didn’t chat. I asked just a few questions to see if we could find some common ground:

VS: What do you do with all your berries?
H:   We spread them on cookies sheets and freeze them?
VS: Me too.  After I make some jam.


VS: Where are you from?
H: Northfield
VS: That’s convenient.  (berry patch is in Northfield)


VS: Are you here alone today?
H: No, my wife is here.


Three hints are enough for me. Clearly he didn’t feel the need to chat, so I left him alone and we continued to pick silently.  His wife eventually showed up and they outpaced me although even as they got farther away from me I could hear that they weren’t speaking to each other either. So at least it wasn’t me.

Did your folks tell you never to talk to strangers?





Chili Madness

Last weekend a local grocery store had a special on Hatch Chilies. Those are New Mexico chilies that are traditionally fire roasted in Hatch, New Mexico in large, round, rotating, propane-fueled roasters.

The store brought in 1500 lbs of New Mexico chilies. They are an Anaheim variety, long and green, of varying heat levels.  There was a roaster set up outside the store.  Roasting was scheduled from 4 pm to 7 pm on Friday,  and 11-2 on Saturday.  Husband and I were serendipitously at the store at 3:30 on Friday, and we bought about 10 lbs of mild/medium chilies to have roasted.  The skins get charred in the roaster but the pepper flesh isn’t.  After they cooled and steamed in plastic bags we took the skins off and froze them in baggies. They will make nice additions to lots of dishes this winter.

The response to the promotion was amazing. Perhaps events like this are common in the Cities, but this was the first of its kind here, and people went crazy for the chilies. As we were having ours roasted, a woman from Watford City, a community about 80 miles northwest of us,  came with 200 lbs of chilies to roast. She said the grocery store’s sister city in Watford was rationing how much she could get, but she could purchase as much here as she wanted.  She figured 200 lbs would be enough for her and her friends. She said she used to live in New Mexico and couldn’t believe that she could have roasted Hatch chilies here. We talked to several former New Mexicans while we stood in line, and all said the same thing. They said that nothing reminded them of autumn than the smell of roasting chilies.  They were so grateful to get these peppers.

By 7:00 pm, the store had sold 1400 lbs of the chilies, leaving a paltry 100 lbs for the next day.  The store plans to get another shipment of Hatch chilies in for next weekend.

What smells are evocative for you?  What gives you a sense of home?

Woeful Wednesday

I don’t know why, but for the past month or so, Wednesdays have proven to be the most exhausting and problem-filled days of the week for me.  Everyone seems to go into crisis.  I get more phone calls.  Coworkers need more things from me.  Administrators are around more.  Things get hectic at the regulatory board of which I am a member, so I get many emails from the office needing immediate replies.

I typically don’t dread any day of the week, but I am starting to dread Wednesday.  Even Monday is better.

Which day of the week, month of the year, or holiday could you do without?  Which do you welcome?

Faulty Logic

Today’s post comes from Reneeinnd.

Every Spring, Husband and I look around at our flower beds and say “We don’t need to buy any perennials this year.  Our beds are just fine.” Every year, we manage to find reasons to buy more perennials. This year we outdid ourselves and bought 31. We got 7 Bleeding Hearts, 6 Maidenhair Ferns, 6 Veronica Speedwell,  5 Lupines, 2 Helenium, 1 Missouri Primrose, 1 Rosemary, 1 Baptesia, 1 White Coneflower, and 1 Little Lamb Hydrangea.

The logic that went into the Speedwell purchase was pretty lame. We were at Menards looking for seeds to start our late season spinach, beets, lettuce, carrots, and parsley crops, and Husband found these Speedwells in need of transplant. He said “We just saved a lot of money buying things on sale at Herbergers, and these really need a home”, as though we were talking about kittens or something. Well, of course I said “let’s get them”.  We egg each other on in greenhouses and plant stores like alcoholics in a liquor warehouse. Husband says “These will help keep the weeds down. You know how much you hate weeds”.  I say “We are just increasing the value of our home as well as its curb appeal when we want to sell”.   I think this is all faulty logic, and gives us excuses to feed our plant habits.

How do you talk yourself into things? When do you use faulty logic?