To any random followers from my old SSW site, how’ve you been? I’ve missed you!
At the moment, I’m sitting at our iron picnic table that I spray-painted electric blue a couple summers back. It’s starting to chip here and there, but the imperfections give it a lovely sheen of character. Perfection makes me nervous. Which is good, because when I used the spray paint I unknowingly misted the driveway, so parts of it have funky faint angles of blue scattered across. I’m toying with the idea of telling people I did that on purpose.
I’m in the shade of a large maple, overlooking our lovely vegetable garden and enjoying a smashingly good strong of coffee made by my dear one, Mr. Ryan Fleming. (He makes a FINE cup of joe.) The yard is a work in progress that I find hard to keep up with some days. But it makes me happy like nothing else. There are a pair of mockingbirds fighting — mating? I can never tell — in the Weeping Katsura tree we planted out front our first autumn here. It is a stunning tree. I’d like to say I knew what I was doing when I purchased it, but it was actually dumb luck. Knowing next to nothing about landscaping and flower gardens, I bought the Katsura in a pallet sale over at Weston Nurseries, a couple of towns away, because we wanted a tree in the front yard. Unlike those once-popular fledgling weeping trees, however — which, to me, look like oversize wands with a few spindly ropes popping awkwardly out the top — this baby’s got style. At first glance, there appears to be no rhyme or reason to her outstretched limbs. But stand back and you’ll observe that her growth is a dance as elegant as that of a ballet dancer. The upper branches reach for the sun and then swan dive down like lightly jeweled streamers. She’s a piece of living art. And she’s saucy.
The vegetable garden has started out with promise. This year, I planted several varieties of cherry tomatoes. I’ve found I haven’t had much luck with the larger ones in the past, given our relatively short growing season and the mysterious diseases (or critters) that claim the large fruits just as they start to ripen. But all the tiny varieties do remarkably well. The other thing I enjoy about the cherry tomatoes is that I can share the bounty with my neighbors. We have lovely people living around us and nothing beats the fun of seeing someone’s face light up at a bowl of unexpected tomatoes. The only semi-larger variety I’ve had luck with are the Speckled Romans, which are oversized gems. They are shaped like pointed Romas, but look as though someone painted shimmery gold glitter down the sides of the fruit in cascading stripes. Not only do they look like something out of Harry Potter meets True Blood, but they are delicious — they don’t even need salt because there’s a sweet-and-saltiness already there in the flavor.
I also planted several kinds of peppers (sweet and hot), snap peas, cucumbers of all varieties, one eggplant, three varieties of basil, kale (lacinato and curly), arugula, and swiss chard. I may have planted beets. (Did I?) And there is the Jurassic rhubarb that creates umbrella-like respite for our kitty Kaci. We have two cats, both sixteen, but Kaci is not doing so well these days. This may well be her last summer, so we are giving her as much garden time as possible. Slowly traipsing the garden brings out her inner kitten. She smiles up at the sky with her eyes closed. She rubs against the large rocks. She stretches out of the graveled paths until doubled in length and then rolls around, massaging her back on the pointed grey and white rocks. Ryan ordered a sign in her honor that we just installed yesterday above the rhubarb. This will henceforth always be Kaci’s Korner. (I never said we could spell.)
The two hummingbird feeders are back out, though they desperately need new sugar water. I get a little lazy about that. But I will change it today – I will! — since seeing those tiny dainty birds buzz next to me makes me feel the screaming delight of a small child.
The majority of the flower gardens I’ve done are perennials because 1) I’m lazy, 2) they spread, and 3) pretty pretty!! I was initially very hesitant to start, as all my efforts looked dorky. The fantastic Amy Mullen, though, of The Fraudulent Farmgirl, gave me great tips, including an order to read Mrs. Greenthumbs Plows Ahead: Five Steps to the Drop-Dead Gorgeous Garden of Your Dreams. The book is slightly dated, but the content is not. And if you’re vegan or vegetarian like me, be warned that the author loves talking about animal meat. But if you can get past that, she explains landscaping in way that makes it very accessible — and downright funny! — to someone who has a demanding day job. (Some of those gardening books assume that you have access to a rototiller, a crew of eight, and a sabbatical.)
So last time I wrote, I mentioned a mystery, didn’t I? I’m still working on this and the project has ended up being much more challenging than I had anticipated. Essentially, I’m writing fairytales that illustrate (in a benign-ish way) what happens to “food” animals that are hidden from view. The stories will be tame enough for even kids to handle, but direct enough to explain what actually goes on. But in a way that doesn’t traumatize. The incredible pressure I’ve been putting on myself to perfectly balance the line of truth/trauma/good storytelling has, truthfully, freaked me out a little and essentially scared me from writing. The more time away from blogging, the greater the pressure I’ve felt. Finally, I decided to drop the perfection, jump back on the train, and let things happen. If that makes any sense. Cause, as I mentioned, perfection freaks me out.
Join me in being perfectly imperfect! (I’m so tempted to make a spelling mistake, just to drive to point hom.)