Tag Archives: lavender

Leaves and flowers before the rain.

gl-2016-10-24-09-38-16My early walk was so variously interesting and nourishing, I thought it alone would have taken all morning. First thing, down by the creek I got the briefest glimpse of a strange bird, not a jay but with blue around its head somewhere, and I heard its call, but it always flew through the trees just out of sight.

The skies were cloudy, my house was chilled, but the air outdoors was gentler than is typical for these parts, and all the deciduous trees made their own light against the dark background. It was natural to be looking up, and to notice the music of bird conversations. I was made aware today of how wild birds live their own separate existence, so mysterious and otherworldly. When one is caught in a camera lens or is slowed down by an injury, making it possible for me to draw a little closer and examine the feathers or the colors, or to look in the bright eyes, the only reasonable response is reverence.

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And yet, the creatures are everywhere. It is estimated that there are 10,000 bird species and 200 – 400 billion individual birds in the world. Most of the free ones seem always to be just beyond reach, airy and on the move. Egrets at least will stand still long enough to be stared at. This morning a human mom, her baby in a stroller, was looking over the bridge, and when I asked her if she’d seen any waterfowl, told me about two egrets down by the next bridge. I went there, but they were gone.

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What I did see was a turkey vulture! Normally I think they are repulsive, but that may be because they are circling a dead something on the ground, or eating carrion on the highway. When I saw this one sitting on the bank of the creek, all parts but his head looked almost pretty. He was so slow and still, I think he might have been sick or injured. When I came closer he flew clumsily on to a nearby branch.

A breeze was coming up — rain was on its way. Some of the leaves were hard to capture with my camera as they fluttered and waved around, and I thought it amusing that I was so determined to take more Autumn Color pictures. It seemed that just a couple of days ago I was thinking that I was tired of them. It is true, this saying of G.K. Chesterton: “There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.” Today, I was keen on leaves.

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“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
― Albert Camus

My plan was, when I came homegl-yarrow-lavender-10-24-16, to finish cleaning up the yard before the rain came and made that kind of work more tedious. For some reason two of my lavender bushes are still blooming, but as even they are at the end of the season, I began to prune them back, and then I realized I could bring the cuttings into the house for a dry bouquet. And why not add some yarrow blooms; they are untiring in their production of yellow flowers.

The basil that was spindly and reluctant all summer has beefed up and made something of itself in the last weeks, so I cut all of it and thought I would make a batch of pesto.

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And why not bake a cake? Housemate Kit was due to return home today after several months in Guatemala on a missions trip, and wouldn’t she like a cake when she came in from driving through the rain for hours? I’ll tell you more about the cake in another post, but let me just say that it had chocolate in it, and what with all the sampling of 60% cacao chips, and licking of batter and tasting of crumbs, I was getting plenty of caffeine to excite my brain for hours to come – like now.

When I was thick in the business of messing up the whole kitchen with flour, flowers, and cake crumbs, I got the news that some cousins I had expected tomorrow  were also driving down through the storm and arriving this evening instead, and would take me out to dinner.

So the rain came drizzling as I was baking; then sprinkling while I washed the dishes; and by dinnertime it was pouring very encouragingly. After Chinese dinner we came home and Kit had arrived – we all ate cake together, and put the basil in the fridge for tomorrow.

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Busy as Bees

Bumblebee on Hot Lips salvia

Tonight at dusk when I was sprinkling the basil through the hose nozzle, I saw a couple of bumblebees frantically getting their last drops of nectar from the Hot Lips salvia bush. It was really hard to get a picture of this one because he was in such a hurry floating and buzzing from one bloom to the next.

Pippin was sitting on the swing with me this week and she noticed as I had, that the honeybees favor the lavender, while the big black bumbles stick to the salvia. Or maybe it is that there are so many honeybees that they get first pick of the bushes, and the few bumblebees segregate to whatever is left over.

The honeybees like the lambs ears, too. I am thrilled to have so many bushes near my swing where I can see hardworking creatures fulfilling their purposes. I put this one in the shadow of my head to get a good shot.

Two lavenders and Hot Lips

Mr. Glad and I have been as busy as bees ourselves. For four days we took care of little Scout again; he keeps us running up and down the stairs and all over the garden, and sometimes we take walks through the neighborhood along the bike path. I showed him the wild fennel and how the young shoots especially are tender for munching and taste like licorice.

wild fennel and blackberry bloom

He’s a quite friendly fellow, and as we were standing on the side of the path nibbling our greens he was lucky to see some people walking a dog. He held up the fennel frond and called to them, “We’re having a picnic!”  It’s only been about three weeks since I was dreaming about picnics I might make happen Someday. That fennel picnic happened with so little effort and no planning at all.

PomPom was just writing about picnics this week and pointed out that our Lord’s feeding of the 5,000 was a blessed picnic indeed. I’m pleased to see that my grandson has a good start on appreciating how substantial are the little things God has growing along the path of life.

Last week I was buzzing with joy, flying down the state a ways to greet the new grandson “Liam.” A couple of days after that, Mr. Glad and I went to a Giants baseball game, which is pretty much an all-day commitment. It was fun to see our team beat L.A.

Then there were the several days with Scout and his mama. And no sooner had they departed for home than we were sent on three errands of mercy in one day. My mister had to drive a distance for the last one of these and isn’t home yet.

Back in April in the Prologue of Ohrid I noticed a couple of references to saints whom St. Nikolai compared to honeybees flying about carrying honey, or laboring diligently at the work for which they were created. Just watching the bees as I rest on my swing makes me happy, and the sight of them reminds me that after a short break I need to be up and at my work again.

I’d like to be more like the honeybees. When the last bumblebee was anxiously trying to get more salvia nectar, all the honeybees had gone from the lavender. They knew enough to give up for the day and go to bed. And so shall I.

Keeping the tomatoes straight

[Picture of bee on lavender is down the page]

Brazilian Beauty

This spring we planted seven new varieties of tomatoes, and a total of ten plants, which is the most diversity we’ve ever had in all our 35 years of backyard tomato-growing. I know from the past that it can be hard to keep track of what fruits we are harvesting, because long branches start to criss-cross each other.

So I planted the cherry types alternately with the slicers, and the non-red next to the red ones. Still I needed markers to help me identify which unfamiliar red slicer is which, and I made these labels.

Northern Lights

In the recent past I’d taped labels to the cages or stakes, because when they are in the ground they get lost amid the branches or stepped on and broken. Last year’s name tags faded into illegibility, though, so this year, hoping to prevent that, I used some narrow masking tape and black Sharpie to form the letters — that’s why they are so big and blocky.

Some of the varieties are: Sun Sugar, an orange cherry that we grew last year and like even better than Sungold, Czech Bush,  and Ailsa Craig. The types we’ve grown before are Persimmon, an orange slicer, Early Girl, our all-time favorite, and Juliet, a large grape cherry.

Mr. Glad wanted to plant two Juliets just in case everything else fails. So far, everything else looks very good.

There are lots of honeybees in the yard which makes me feel good about the world. I took about twenty shots of them on the lavender so that I could post one happy picture.

Lavender Time

This is the time of year when lavender bloom is peaking. I’m not speaking of French lavender, where I caught a butterfly perching at least a month ago. I have two of those bushes that seem to be always blooming, and quickly grow to a huge size because there never seems to be a post-bloom time to cut them back.

But rather, English lavender.

At church, close to my favorite rose, these two colors of lavender complement the mallow that waves over them.

And not too far away the Matanzas Creek Winery has acres of lavender in bloom right now. Many times I’ve taken friends to get a whiff and a feast for the eyes in the mornings of late June. I didn’t take this picture, though.

Pippin  took many pictures of lavender at a farm we encountered in the Cotswolds of England at springtime several years ago. I’m not showing you her most picturesque shots, in case she wants to use them commercially sometime.

This farm grew so many varieties of lavender, and they had identifying markers at the end of each row, so that I could write the following journal entry:

On our way back to Snowshill we find the lavender farm Jacki told us not to miss. Fatigue has me waiting in the car for my daughter to take a picture, but she comes back to get me—she knows I will want to experience this place, and she’s right. What a palette of color and textures; her photos come out looking like Monet paintings. Twickle Purple, Alba, Dutch, Nana Alba, Hidcote and Peter Pan are some of the varieties I note in my book, as we stroll on wide grass paths among the neat rows spreading out of sight for many acres. There don’t seem to be any other people around; it’s probably suppertime for most folks–or later. Some of the plants are bushy and covered with blooms, others more dainty, with the flowers just coming on. The colors range from deep cobalt through lighter blue and white. When you throw in the lavender smell, it all makes for a sensual feast.

Lavender gives such a lot of pleasure over a long season, is unthirsty and very easy to care for. After the bloom, it’s short work to prune the bushes back, and then there’s no fuss until the next spring, when I can sit on the patio and watch the bees feeding off my own lavender. Weeks ago there were bushes in bloom in our area, but I kept watching in vain: the bees had not deemed mine ready yet. But today was the day! Just this morning there they were, a dozen of them buzzing around. It takes almost more patience than I have, to get a picture like this in a garden where the breeze is nearly constant. But I did it! So I have something to give today.