Category Archives: Seasons

Tubing!

There has a lot more traffic on the creek this summer.  (OK, maybe there isn’t a lot more traffic, but because I’m out walking the dog, I’m noticing a lot more folks enjoying the creek.)   I’ve seen folks in canoes and I’ve seen kids in the creek down near Lynnhurst.  Then yesterday I saw five tween girls with huge inner tubes heading down toward the water.

The inner tubes reminded me of going down the Brule in northern Wisconsin with my folks as a kid.  The tubing company would take us up to a drop off point and we would tube back down to where our car was parked.  Nothing too rough – a perfect bit of river for a family with fairly young kids.  It was just a couple of hours and back then nobody felt the need to have an extra inner tube for a cooler of beverages.  The only problem with tubing was changing into dry clothes in the car afterwards; my sister and I were SURE somebody would see something.

So it was fun to see the girls hurrying down to the creek with the inner tubes and now I’m wondering where I can rent tubes of my own!

Tell me what you did for summer fun as a kid!

Socially Distant Strawberries

The alarm clock went off at the crack of dawn.  The woman who answered the phone at the berry farm the day before had said that they had been very busy the first week that the strawberries were ready for picking.  (I guess strawberries are the new toilet paper.)  I wanted to be there when they opened so threw on my shorts and shirt and got a move on.

The berry farm was doing a good job with the covid restrictions: everyone got a good spray of sanitizer on their hands before and after going into the field, masks were strongly encouraged, containers brought from home were strictly forbidden and they put us in every other row of berries.  And we were told in no uncertain terms that this year we could not sample berries as we picked.   I had thought I would be irritated by wearing a mask while picking berries, but soon my knees and ankles took my mind off it.  It was a beautiful morning and I found that none of the restrictions bothered me at all – although I will admit that with folks in every other row, I wasn’t able to eavesdrop on other folks’ berry patch conversations like usual!

The berries were great and I managed to overfill my two flats just as I got to the end of my row.  Having gotten there so early, I got home early and had 14 jars of jam and 8 quarts of frozen berries processed by 10:30!  I had been worried that the pandemic would wreck my annual strawberry routine, but the berry farm did a great job of getting safely on with business!

When was the last time you set your alarm clock?  Do you even HAVE an alarm clock?  What kind?

Summer Sleep Outs

I was out in the garden weeding after work yesterday  when  the children from next door came over to help me. (They were remarkably helpful and pulled all the right weeds and none of the vegetables.) They were so excited to tell me that they were sleeping in the back yard in a tent with their dad  that night. Sure enough, there was a tent in the back yard with sleeping bags and pillows.  We did the same with our children in the back yard. It was so much fun!

I have the fondest memories of outdoor summer sleeping in various venues-with cousins, with friends, with my dad. What a wonderful thing to do!

What are your Summer sleeping-out memories? What are other Summer night memories?

The Grill Master

Husband loves to grill. Until last Thursday he had three grills. One is a classic Weber. One is a Kamado ceramic grill. The third was a large Charbroil that he has had for about 30 years. He discovered last week that the bottom was rusting out, and that it needed to be replaced.  All the grills are fueled with wood or charcoal.  He dislikes gas grills, and I would be afraid for him using such volatile fuel. He uses each grill for different grilling purposes.  I don’t even try to understand.

The Charbroil was too heavy for us to get in the back of his pickup to take to the landfill, so he got a local moving company to take it away.  It was a sad day.  He has an emotional attachment to his grills. He had a new grill in mind, and in about 11 weeks, a fancy, schmancy, Yoder Cheyenne griller/smoker will arrive from Kansas City.  It will arrive all assembled. It looks like a train engine, weighs 315 pounds, and has a separate compartment on one end for the fuel. It has a chimney.  He got all the bells and whistles on it.  Happy Father’s Day!

I like grilled food, and he is expanding his repertoire to make his grills do smoking and tandoori cooking.  We aren’t big picnic people and we don’t eat outside much but sometimes food just tastes better out of doors.

What do you like to take on a picnic?  What do you like to grill?  Got any good barbecue recipes or stories?

Irises!

It’s been cold the last couple of mornings.  The sweatpants are back and for those morning walks with Guinevere, I’ve even reverted to adding a sweatshirt to my sweatpants/t-shirt ensemble.  And socks – quelle sacrilege!  It’s almost like we need a word for this transition season… not quite summer yet, although it should be.  Maybe “sprummer”?

Anyway, even if it’s cold, the walks are glorious because my favorite flower is starting to bloom, not just in my yard but all over the neighborhood – the irises have arrived!  I’m not sure why the iris is my favorite.  My mom wasn’t an iris fan, but I do remember going to the Missouri Botanical Garden growing up and seeing bed after bed of glorious blooms.  In my yard I have pretty much every color, including an orange variety called “orange crush”, although not all the colors have bloomed yet.

This morning looking at a garden full of pale yellow beauties in a yard around the corner, it made me think of a pretty haiku I found a few years ago by a Japanese woman who lived in the 17th century:

Waking from my dream:

what a color

were the iris flowers

Shushiki

Do you have a favorite flower?  Or a favorite haiku about a flower?

Garden Envy

I think I’ve mentioned that there are a couple of gardens in my neighborhood that I adore.  In fact, on my daily walk with Guinevere, I try to walk by both houses before heading home.  I am insanely jealous of both these gardens, wishing I had the foresight and talent to have a garden like either of these.  As you know, my garden is just a mish-mosh of what I like and what survives in Minnesota, planted in dribs and drabs over the years.  A lot of hostas, lilies, sedum, irises.  The only overall plan is the “more flowers, less grass” plan – that’s it.  No maps, no sketches, no layouts.

On Saturday morning I was wasting time driving around Linden Hills (waiting for my 10 a.m. time slot to pick up some bread from the bakery) and a garden caught my attention.  Luckily no one was driving behind me, because I’m pretty sure I hit the breaks pretty good.  It was so breathtaking that I turned around on the next block and went back, parked the car and got out to admire it.  The photo I took doesn’t even begin to do justice to this yard.  I hung around for almost 10 minutes, kinda hoping that someone would come out of the house so I could compliment them, but alas, nobody.

As I looked, I realized that the overwhelming number of plants in the garden were hostas, lilies, sedum and irises – just like my garden!  Although this garden is certainly several steps up from mine, I thought that maybe I didn’t have to be INSANELY jealous… maybe just a little jealous.  It gave me a warm feeling as I drove off, thinking that maybe my hostas and lilies give others a few moments of happiness.

Do you battle any jealousy in your life?

Reading in Place

For years I’ve had way more library books checked out than even I can read before they are due; I spend way too much time (at least what most people think is way too much time) curating what I have checked out, what’s on hold, what’s in transit.  I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that I have my 16-digit library card number memorized.  I never thought any of this would ever come in handy – looks like covid-19 is making me re-think this assumption.

By the end of last night, I am caught up.  I have read ALL the library books that I had checked out at the time the libraries closed up, plus a couple more that have arrived since my local library started allowing curbside pick-up.  I’m not in any danger of running out of things to read… plenty of online stuff and a good number of books that I’ve accumulated over the years but never read.  But it’s a nice feeling to be all caught up with the library.  I’m pretty sure that as soon as shelter-in-place is over, I’ll be back to my old habits!

Here are a few that I’ve read:

His Majesty’s Dragon (Naomi Novik).  5 stars.  Read this (again) for Blevins.  Bit of revisionist history of the era of the Napoleanic wars with dragons thrown into the mix.  First of the Temeraire series.

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls (Julie Schumacher)  5 stars.  This is the same author who wrote Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirements.  It’s a young-adult fiction but a good read and very well written.  Four girls thrown together over the summer to discuss their school required reading list.

Natural History of Dragons (Marie Brennan).  5 stars.  Bit of very fun fiction from the viewpoint of a female “dragonologist” at a time when women were supposed to be staying home and knitting.

Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie).  5 stars.  Read this again (read all of AC in high school) to refresh my memory on which of the two movies was the most loyal to the book.  Although I am normally irritated by mystery writers who don’t give you all the clues, since I already know who the murderers are in all her books, I was able to let it go and just enjoy her writing.  (And the 1972 movie was much closer to the book!)

The Crypt Thief (Mark Pryor).  4 stars.  Found this when I was looking up the video on the French cemetery that was discussed on the Trail in February.  Murder mystery involving the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

I know you’re worried that I’m going to review every book I’ve read in the last 2 months, but I’ll stop here (except to say no need to read Fooled by Randomness (Taleb) or Wreck the Halls (Graves).  Only 2 stars each.

What’s the latest book you’ve finished “in place”?

Mulch Madness

My mother did some gardening, but not a lot – the occasional rose bush but it was never a grand passion.  She never asked me to help with anything in the yard, not even raking in the fall.  None of my grandparents had the gardening bug either, so I’m not sure where I got the flower fever.

My plan of more flowers/less grass has pretty much come to fruition – there is hardly any grass left in the front.  Although the more flowers/less grass situation does come with an unforeseen circumstance – mulch!  We use a lot.

And in the more interesting turn of events, YA has made it clear that SHE is in charge of the mulch.  She has opinions about what kind is best (cypress), how many bags at a time I should get (definitely 6), where it goes in the yard and who should be putting it down where (I get the boulevard, she gets everywhere else).  This year she put down some of that black tarp on the northern side of the front yard and covered it with mulch as well.

Now we’re waiting for mulch to be re-stocked at the nursery – they were out yesterday morning – the latest repercussion of shelter-in-place – lots more folks are gardening!

Any gardening surprises for you this year?

Quick Breads

The frozen bananas were calling to me on Sunday, imploring me to make them into banana bread. I complied, dragging out James Beard’s banana bread recipe, omitting the nuts, and adding a brown sugar glaze to the top when it was done.

I like banana bread and a cranberry bread my mother always made at Christmas, the recipe I unaccountably lost.  Date bread is a waste of good eggs and butter, as far as I am concerned.  Blueberry muffins? Yum!

What are your favorite quick breads and muffins?

Has It Sprung Yet?

Today’s post comes to us from our Ben!

The ducks have separated. We have 9 white ducks and four brown ducks that all hang out together. But last week, two browns and one white were off by themselves. It happens as the weather warms. A young ducks fancy turns too….?

And now that one white duck is totally by itself. At first, I thought maybe it had hurt its foot that it was sitting there all alone. But the next day it was toddling along just fine. Except alone. Occasionally I will get a couple mallards that we raised come back for a visit and maybe a pair or two will stay in the area, just not with all the other ducks. Sometimes we see them flying over and land in the swamp just over there. So home, but still independent like all good kids.

Also, the door on the chicken coop has been getting easier to open. It’s just a plain home-made wood door. In winter, presumably as the ground heaves with the frost, it gets harder to open as it drags on the ground. But the last week it’s started to open easier. Meaning the ground is settling again. And sometimes, the sliding doors on the North end of the shed will also get hard to open, again, because of the ground heaving. It helped that I shortened them a few inches. But when they open again, I know spring is coming.

I mentioned the other day I was ready to order baby chicks but the tank was buried in a snowdrift. Got that out. I’m thinking another sign of spring may be when the chick raising tank emerges from the snow.

What signs of spring have you seen?