the queen

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When I was a child and thought of a butterfly, an image of the monarch always came first to mind. And now, forty-plus years along and the numbers of this regal butterfly plummeting, a monarch sighting has become something to celebrate. Its visit to our garden was brief, so I made sure to get a bunch of pics. The brilliant orange and black and white spots still dazzle, and yet again I find myself awed by nature’s beauty on this waning summer day.

midsummer

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This is what our midsummer looks like — beauty everywhere! In the garden, in the sky, all around the homestead. We are grateful for our many blessings and this abundant harvest season. Yes, even all that zucchini WILL be put to good use! (Last night we had it roasted, with garlic, onion, tomatoes, spinach, and a bit of chili sauce — yum.) Somedays, when the muscles are weary, it can be difficult to muster up the energy to get the work done. But we do it because the Earth is an amazing partner to work with on this journey. That said, if the weather holds, we are looking forward to a brief beach sojourn later next week, to dip our toes in the ocean and smell that salty air. Just what’s needed to recharge after weeks of hard work!🙂 Wishing all of you the best of this bountiful season!!!

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summer light

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This week at the ball game we were treated to this magnificent sky (before the storm arrived and sent the game into a 2-hour rain delay, but the team still won and that’s all that matters🙂 ). The dark thick clouds with the light forcing its way through proved an apt metaphor for thoughts I had been mulling over for these past few months. Has that ever happened to you? When a problem presents and seems unsolvable but then suddenly the solution, which had been there all the while, reveals itself, just as a bright light leading you along though the murky dark? The waves of relief of finding the path again are as if being baptized by the rain as the storm moves away. And that’s where I find myself this first day of July — joyful, full of gratitude, satisfied, and ready to celebrate all that this holiday weekend represents: independence, freedom, good eating, the pursuit of happiness.

10 things

It’s a busy time of year, this garden season, but one I love just the same. Here are 10 more things I’m loving today.

  1. This still life painting I finished for my painting class. I’ve never painted before, and I have so much respect for painters after trying it myself. But this one has turned out better than I expected!

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2. This most neglected rose bush that, despite my forgetfulness and lack of care, still gifts me with perfect, beautiful  blooms.

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3. Our resident house finch family — the couple has been raising a young family this summer in one of our bird boxes. For weeks, we’ve heard the little ones chirping away inside, but yesterday the parents had the whole brood in our front garden for an outing. The little ones had their first pecks in the grass and practiced spreading their wings while their parents kept a close watch. I am grateful to have been audience to such beautiful moments.

4. This great spangled fritillary arrived at our kitchen door to mark the first day of summer  and has been keeping close by in our flower garden ever since — gorgeous!

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5. The first harvests of the season — we have a good stream of radishes, peas, and salad coming in from our garden these days. Plus, I’ve made a good stock of strawberry/rhubarb and fruits del mosque (elderberry, wild raspberry + blackberry) jams. Today, a blueberry cake to make is on my agenda (priorities!🙂 ).

6. This chestnut tree — my favorite on the whole property. It has an enormous canopy and strong boughs (from which to hang my hammock), and it’s in flower now to boot.

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7. The first of the lavender was ready to pick for drying. Is there any fragrance more sweet or summery, I don’t believe so.

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8. Receiving a long letter from a new penfriend in Japan — whatever advantages our technological world offers us, I still prefer good, old-fashioned letters in the mail.🙂

9. This 8-foot tall hollyhock — I have been waiting all week for the flowers to open and yesterday they finally did.❤

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10. This weather — I don’t know when we’ve had an early summer so perfect. The days are warm and sunny, just what the garden needs, and the evenings cool, ensuring deep rejuvenating sleep.

Hope all is well and beautiful in your part of the world!

june musings

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This is our fifth spring on Baldy Hill, and we find ourselves delighting in more of nature’s beauty with each passing day. And I am grateful to those who came before us, those who planted the irises, the peonies, the Sweet William. I wonder about those people, how they came to select the blooms they did, and their places in the garden. And I’m happy to see our own marks being left now, the lavender, the gooseberry and blueberry bushes, my grandmother’s lily. Although we have no plans to leave Baldy Hill anytime soon, I hope that whoever inherits our space appreciates what we leave behind. For I believe that one of the most important things we can do in this world is leave a positive mark on our land, no matter how short or long our stay. Enjoy this beautiful month!

memorial day remembrances

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I love this image of an American Red Cross nurse knitting during World War I — amazing to think this photo is almost one hundred years old! For the past year and a bit, we have been listening to the BBC Radio 4 drama Home Front, which follows the lives of many characters in real time through the first world war. Although fictionalized, the story lines were adapted from actual accounts and newspaper articles. Many of us today are fortunate to not have lived through such times; this program relates how war seeps into every crevice of life, even for those at home, “safe.” Worth a listen, especially today as we take time to remember those men and women who sacrificed so much for us and their countries.