Gardening


Early this afternoon, just as I was putting The Baby down to sleep, it began to rain. The thunder rolled continuously in the distance and as I came back downstairs, it began to rain harder. I stood for a minute, looking out the kitchen window at my gardens. I had planned to work in the gardens while he slept. I am definitely not made of sugar and I have been known to garden in the rain – even the pouring rain – but generally, it is considered a reasonable choice to not garden in the pouring rain. And that is the choice I made. So what should I do with my time?

I’ve got some new (to me) dining room furniture and so I could easily fill up nap time by cleaning glass and moving dishes and crystal. I’m behind on the laundry (as usual), so spending a couple hours catching up there would be time well spent. There are always dishes. Or dusting. Or the pile of crap in front of the freezer in the basement that I need to deal with. I could even get a head start on dinner.

But no. I did none of that. Instead, I made cup of peppermint tea and buttered – with the whey butter I recently discovered at the local Farmers’ Market and highly recommend – a thick slice of cinnamon roll bread, took some simple knitting and sat out on the porch.

I was well out of the rain, but sat in the cool and damp swirling air, had a clear view of the lightening, and could hear the rain falling and dripping in the garden and running in the downspout.

Max, the cat who came back, kept me company from the window.

I rocked and knitted and sipped my tea for most of an hour. It was lovely. I could have been more productive, sure, but I don’t think the time could have been better spent.

I can’t believe that July is almost over. How can we have been so busy and there still be so much more we wanted to do? We’ve done some of this:

And this:

And lots of this:

So… eight days left in this month and then all of August. We’ll be sure to make the best use – not necessarily just the most productive use – of our time, our Summertime. Right now, since the rain has stopped and the sun is shining again, I’m going to slip on my shoes and go out to do my daily inspection of the vegetable gardens and to top up the bird feeders. I know that sounds productive, but it is all play, trust me ;)

Spice jars. billi-jean.com

That final sprint for the finish each “school year” (and I use the term loosely) is an adrenalin soaked affair of jam-packed schedules, early mornings, packed lunches and the mantra, “Almost done, almost done, almost done..”. I don’t even think that there is a lot more that we were doing in April and May. Okay, there is a lot more, but it isn’t so much as to send the rest of your life topsy-turvy. At least, it sure doesn’t look like it in February and March when you are planning it all. In planning stages it looks like Fun! and Excellent Opportunities!… and it is, it so is, but when you get the the point that you can’t remember the last time you ate lunch at home and the baby napped in his bed and it’s getting harder and harder to get up in the morning… that’s the point you wonder what the heck you were thinking.

Now that it’s (mostly) done, was it worth it? Absolutely. Are we burnt out? Sure. But we’ll recover and then want to do it all again. There was an intense animation course that was a lot of work and time, but Jordan absolutely loved it. He learnt so much and has acquired a new, very cool, hobby. There were the weeks of drama classes that he couldn’t wait to get to. Guitar lessons. The Nature Programme, horseback riding, plus learning to type and reading hundreds of pages every week. There is always hockey and the paper route, of course, and learning to feed the baby, and watching old movies. These few months have been a productive and exciting time for Jordan. He has grown so much.

He’ll be 12 on Sunday. But I’m not thinking about that.

Now that we’re “done” (and I use that term loosely, too), I’ve been spending some time taking care of little details – not necessarily the most urgent details, but the ones that give me the most pleasure. Like, for example, filling my spice tins. I got those spice tins in two sizes at Lee Valley and I love them. They are big, so they’re perfect for things like oregano (because really? I can’t think of any time I’d use 1 teaspoon of oregano. I use at least a quarter of a cup or none at all, yanno?) and cinnamon (mmmm.. cinnamon). Spices I use in smaller amounts go in the smaller tins. The lids have glass windows in them and when I open my spice drawer I’m looking down through all those little round windows at all the colours of my spices and herbs. And that is exciting to me every single time. (yes, yes, I know ;) ). I label the sides of the tins, but I like to try to choose my spice or herb by it’s colour and texture through the window. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. (Maybe I need a hobby?) In the photo above: paprika, poppy seeds and sesame seeds.

I’ve also put my vegetable gardens in. There aren’t words for how much I love this. I’ve had problems in the past with blossom rot on my tomatoes. I’ve read that this can be due to a lack of calcium in the soil, so I’ve been washing and saving our egg shells. I grind them up with my mortar and pestle, and I sprinkled them around the roots when I put the tomatoes into the ground. I’ve ground up more now to add later.

Egg shells, mortar and pestle. billi-jean.com

There are more things Jordan wants to learn and to learn to do, so we’ve made an outline for the summer months. This plan calls for much more time at home, and much less driving around, leaving time for playing in the sandbox, long naps in bed, and puttering in the garden. Well, that’s the theory, anyway ;) But Jordan has already acquired that hammock he wanted and has broken it in with a couple of good books :)

Spring Wildflowers.

Spring hasn’t wasted any time. It has been warm (hot even!) and sunny. Sadly, even the smog has arrived. :/We spent Earth Day at the RBG. Jordan played games and made lists and made a filtering system for water – all part of the “Helping the Earth” programme – then went for a hike along the trail.

The first wildflowers were out in clusters on the forest floor, brilliantly white in sun. There were also bunches of daffodils, transplanted by squirrels from area gardens, all sunshine and yellow. The chickadees came, peeping and looking for seeds and a squirrel watched us intently from his tree.

Chives.

We also celebrated Earth Day by planting a tree in our front yard and eating the first chives from our garden. They were tender and mild and satisfying :)
Today is my birthday and it is cool and rainy, which I love, so I’m considering it a birthday gift. I woke to the sounds of soft rain and singing and to kisses and gifts. A pretty good day, I’d say ;)

Chives.

Spring doesn’t so much arrive here as it does jump out from around a dark and wintry corner and pounce on us fully formed. This game of hide and jump may be repeated a few times, but rarely is the transition from Winter to Spring a drawn out affair.

Less than two weeks ago, I took these pictures:

Yesterday, as I was racing out of the house on an emergency errand (Cookies ARE SO an emergency! Sometimes.), I was stopped dead in my tracks at the site of my herb garden. There was this… green stuff. And the soil was all fluffy and not frozen and … just… begging to be touched. I bent down and pulled up a handful of dead leaves and I could smell that warm earth smell. At that point, it took serious effort to step away and go to the store. The day was packed full of hockey and family visits, but today… today… as soon as I could get out there, I was digging in that soil.

It is still much too early to plant anything, but this is the perfect time to clear out most of the dead plant material from last year and to get a head start on those pesky weeds invasive pest plants enthusiastic herbaceous beings that positively overflow with Life Force. *ahem* Yeah.. the mallow, the cat mint and the horehound are out of control again. I try to think of it not so much as a battle to control the plants, but as an equal partnership in the loving effort to attain a dynamic equilibrium beneficial to us all.
Okay… it’s a battle. A constant battle. But I like it *grin*

The good news is that the soil is so friable that the mallow comes up easily in spite of its deep roots. More good news: lots of lady bugs and earth worms. Strangely, there were no rabbit droppings in my garden. As we walk through the neighbourhood, we see them everywhere, in all the gardens, on all the lawns (there are a LOT of rabbits here) and my backyard is covered with them. But not my garden. hmmm. Probably a good thing as in the back, the little critters have eaten all my hosta sprouts down to nothing.
I can certainly start eating the chives. There are a lot in the garden and they are big and green and smell heavenly. Some even have flowers already. I love the way the whole yard smells of fresh chives even as I just weed around the plants.
Now the challenge will be to be patient until I can start planting out there. That’s going to be tough :)

So much has been happening, BIG things, IMPORTANT things, WONDERFUL things… I can’t believe it is already past the middle of July! In my (alleged) mind, it is still Spring and Summer still has so much potential.

So much has been going on, in fact, that I didn’t put a vegetable garden in. I miss it and i wish I had one, but it just wasn’t to be and that’s ok. Maybe next year :) My herb garden… well.. it got a good start, but currently looks uh… very, very bad. I’ve gone out to work on it – several times. It isn’t a huge garden, so it doesn’t take much time. But hornets have taken it over. And I’m allergic and, well, as much as I love my garden, it isn’t worth dying for, yanno? Mark spent hours yesterday scouring our property for hornets’ nest and removing them, so hopefully I’ll be able to safely go out in my yard again soon. Then I can work in my garden and my neightbours won’t have to look at the eyesore that is my front yard any more.

Luckily, stuff grows without my intervention and I enjoyed my snowball bush, lilacs and the valerian.

Jordan has earned his purple belt in karate. The beginner belts are behind him now and things are getting serious. He spent a week at an intensive day camp, where each day was the equivalent of four lessons. He was so sore and tired by 4 o’clock. hehehe. But that boy has some serious stomach muscles. Cool.

His karate club put on a great summer picnic. Karate demonstrations, barbeque, three-legged races… there were hundreds of people there, it was in a beautiful park near here, and it was a really great time. Jordan had a blast. There was even a tug of war across the river. We’re already looking forward to next year.

Knitting? uhhhh…. oh! There’s the phone. I have to go. ttyl. bye!
;)

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