Friday, June 12, 2009

O June!

"Mine is the Month of Roses; yes, and mine
The Month of Marriages! All pleasant sights
And scents, the fragrance of the blossoming vine,
The foliage of the valleys and the heights.
Mine are the longest days, the loveliest nights;
The mower's scythe makes music to my ear;
I am the mother of all dear delights;
I am the fairest daughter of the year."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"In June, as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day.
No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them."
- Aldo Leopold

Indeed, - the first walk through the garden in the morning is almost overwhelming...
Here, and here and here, - look at the new buds, the new blossoms.

June is so generous with her beauty, and the garden, no matter how small, is a constant delight. The fat, busy bees, the butterflies, the worms that wiggle and squirm when you turn over the soil, the meadow lark that greets you in the morning - whichever angel was in charge of the June Show surely must have gone over budget!!!

"Now summer is in flower and natures hum
Is never silent round her sultry bloom
Insects as small as dust are never done
Wi' glittering dance and reeling in the sun
And green wood fly and blossom haunting bee
Are never weary of their melody
Round field hedge now flowers in full glory twine
Large bindweed bells wild hop and streakd woodbine
That lift athirst their slender throated flowers
Agape for dew falls and for honey showers
These round each bush in sweet disorder run
And spread their wild hues to the sultry sun."
- John Clare, June

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sky Watch Friday
June 12th, 2009

Early in the morning the thunderheads began to peer over the mountain tops, and by midday they were sailing across the skies between the Similkameen and the South Okanagan.

A small quick rush of rain in the late afternoon and by evening the great white thunderheads have dispersed, - sailed away to other climes - and in their place long, low clouds stretch their way across a mild sky, touched delicately by the setting sun.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

AND what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
James Russell Lowell

We are having coffee on the deck, daughter and I, while Charles scurries down to be amongst the first in line to have his blood tested. The sun is up, but there is still a lovely coolness in the air, and earlier in the morning Caspar and I had 'strolled' down the road, inspecting the dew on the grass and scanning the sky for clouds.

Our talk concerns cooking, - the day's meals (she is doing sweet and sour ribs in the slow cooker; I am still undecided, but leaning towards the easiest meal possible). Perhaps peanut butter sandwiches for lunch; always welcome and a quickie that allows me to make a hasty exit for a one o'clock date at the Care Centre where we (The Royal Purple ladies) are visiting with cake and ice cream and music.

She leaves to go and make magic with the slow cooker. I go inside for the camera, - time for a few shots in the garden before Charles is home for his second cup of coffee. He doesn't mind the wait, - he comes home with news, and just the smallest smidgin of gossip. The waiting room is a gold mine!

Out in the garden the poppies are in various stages of delivering delicate crumpled scarlet petals. The sun is still low, - the petals are translucent and the shadows are long....

and the naughty coutch grass springs up and waves in front of the camera, anxious to be part of the show. Behind the delphinium wait in the wings impatiently, - they are dressing quickly this morning in their blues and whites for a pretty show - next on...

The pink climber and the lavender clematis are both more than generous with their blooms...

I breathe deeply and enjoy the morning fragrance then go back into the house. A lone Quail takes my place in the garden, perches on the garden umbrella and keeps a close eye out for crows and cats.

Charles comes up the driveway, slowly, inspecting his curly willows with a practiced eye. We have a cup of coffee, - he tells me who he saw, what they said, was the nurse competent with his slippery hard to reach veins..the morning progresses. We have our peanut butter sandwiches, - I leave for my afternoon affair, stopping for a quick chat with number 3 son. With a little time to spare I make a clandestine visit to the nursery to buy just a few fill in plants!!

As most lovely June days do the afternoon ended with a great collection of convective clouds, teasing with the possibility of rain, but not terribly serious.

Another lovely contented day.....we had a shrimp stir fry for supper.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

ABC Wednesday

U - is for Ubiquitous (meaning everywhere at once; omnipresent)

And when I think ubiquitous (not a pretty word) I immediately think Garden / Yarrow
/ Physilis (Chinese Lantern)/ couch grass / and to this motley crew I am this year forced to add the Sweet Violet who is everywhere at once, - along the garden path, in the midst of the Iris, the Peony, the Delphinium, the Shasta Daisy. The cruel winter that took the roses must have been kind to the violets - I have never seen them grow so tall, so bushy - great mounds of green leaves. And come to think of it, not many flowers in these overgrown plants. In the small violet plants, yes, - they were a delight in the early spring. But where have these ubiquitous violets come from?

Imported by the Yarrow, perhaps? What I have in my garden now is the common variety of yarrow, - the rather off colour white with the ferny leaves. In the lost Garden I had a rainbow variety of beautiful Yarrow, but here, alas - where the Chinese Lantern and the Violets leave room they crowd in every available space, - common and pushy and UBIQUITOUS...

The Coutch grass we take for granted, - it establishes itself at the base of a plant and then reaches slender stalks far above the cherished and cultivated plant, so that when you look at the garden with a photographer's eye, or a visitor's eye, all you see are waving spikes of coutch grass, like a cobweb on what you hoped was a pristine ceiling.

For a number of years I tried to establish the Chinese Lantern in my garden, but they turned their backs on me and shunned the rich loam. However, someone whispered in their ear 'ubiquitous - if you really try you can be everywhere at once'! And so they were, and are - - they have established an underground railway (of which I have spoken before in blogs) that details stations every few feet in the garden and from which passengers alight and push their way through to whatever space is available to them. And yeah, even across the road and field they send out branch lines!

These are the UBIQUITOUS - they come to stay, but they are only visitors. Their true home is in the wheelbarrow, and eventually the compost heap where they will be worth their weight in gold. And as I dispatch them to their rightful place I mutter, ubiquitous, ubiquitous......

Monday, June 08, 2009

An ordinary Day

This morning I woke early, slipped out of bed quietly, put the coffee on and enjoyed a solitary cup whilst thinking how comfortable it was to have cooler weather.

In a short while Caspar woke, and so we quickly got the leash and went out on the morning business run, - a little old dog can't wait too long in the morning for this necessity.

What a pleasure to smell the freshly cleaned air after an early morning rain, and to hear the resident meadow lark singing a morning paean.

We sniffed the damp air and strolled right to the bottom of the lane, waking up the little pigs at the turn in the road, - they were rampaging ruffians from the first good morning! Of course you know that they are the ultimate machine for getting rid of coutch grass. It strikes terror to my heart though to even contemplate them loose in the garden.....

When we returned to the house the Master still slept, and Caspar decided on an extension to his morning sleep while I amused myself on the piano, looking for appropriate pieces to play when we visit the Care Centre on Wednesday.

Eventually we all had breakfast and enjoyed our daily visit with our daughter, who stops in for coffee after early morning work.

This was the day we were to pick up the Earth Machines (2) whose use the Village is encouraging in the name of green environment. Off to town to do a few errands and load these shiny black containers into the truck - in parts. A piece of cake to assemble, the instruction book tells us.

We come home to a welcome shower, and it is easy to convince Charles that a cup of coffee and a short break would not offend the rules of productivity, considering the rain.

I cook him a hot dog with mounds of onions for lunch, and then settle down in the big chair with The Shoebox Bible.

I finish it, but with a number of short pauses for contemplation and to wipe away the tears. Will the book affect everyone in this way?

I found it to be a very touching tribute to a brave but wounded mother, and to a loving relationship. Having had a mother myself who faced a life of physical pain and adversity with sweetness and great courage I was very vulnerable to nostalgia...

Tea-time, and then, so the day would not be totally without merit in the world of accomplishment, we went out and put the Earth Machines together, and they sit in the back yard, awaiting our first offerings of garden debris and kitchen scraps (that we are assured they will quickly turn into fine, rich loam).

Now it is dusk, - the clouds have gathered overhead and it is quite possible we may not see the glorious moon tonight, but here is last night's inadequate effort at capturing the splendour of the golden orb.

And the night before an errant cloud passing in front of the moon cast a Halloween mask on the man in the moon.

How grateful I am for Ordinary Days!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

What am I reading???

We are not too well acquainted with the lazy, hazy days of summer, - the kind where you sit out in the garden with a book. Out in the garden where sound is the gentle murmur of butterfly wings, bumble bees and soft breezes sighing.....

We come from the era where 'a thing worth doing is worth doing well' (my father) and where one must squeeze the most productivity from every available moment (the beloved's watchword). The key word here is available. Mornings are available. The earlier the better. But after the morning hours have been squeezed dry of productivity the afternoon activity is best accomplished stretched out flat on the couch, or lying back in the lazy boy chair, I believe this is called re-charging.....

It doesn't include reading, alas. Reading is reserved for evenings, or bedtime.

And so now, at night, I am reading Alan Bradley.

When I first heard of Alan Bradley,seventy years old with a surprise contract for six yet unwritten books, a resident of Kelowna just two hours away from us here in the Similkameen, I envisaged a Grandma Moses type, or a Susan Boyle, - a newly discovered author, a son of the land, a simple, gifted writer upon whom fortune had finally smiled.

However my interest led me to discover that he was a much more sophisticated author 'who has published many children's stories as well as lifestyle and arts columns in Canadian newspapers'. (flyleaf) Click and read more about his connection with the University of Saskatchewan, and his many other accomplishments.

And I did discover that B.C. cannot claim him as a native son, but can only be grateful that he retired to this beautiful province after garnering an impressive CV in Saskatchewan.

I have yet to read the book he wrote with Dr. William A.S. Sarjeant, Ms Holmes of Baker Street, - the book that advanced the theory that Sherlock Holmes was a woman, and 'was greeted upon publication with what has been described as "a firestorm of controversy"'. I can well imagine!

What I have read is his delightful and clever story of an eleven year old mystery solver, Flavia de Luce. Flavia is a unique child, a product of her eccentric family, her penchant for poisons and chemistry, her individuality as the youngest girl, shunned by older sisters, and her sharpness! The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is delightful and a book that makes it difficult to put out the night light...

What I am reading now is Alan Bradley's earlier book, 'The Shoebox Bible' - a poignant memoir of a family who 'managed' after the father ran away from home, and a mother who stored hope in a shoebox. I am still immersed, having only reached page 45, but I have a lovely eagerness to go to bed early, and read more of the Songs of Solomon that expressed hope, and the gloomy Old Testament
passages full of grief and despair.

P.S. I forgot to say that the writing is beautiful with many imaginative pictures - 'my right arm stretched to the shuddering point', and a fair amount of elegance.

'Often, as we grow older, we forget how keen our senses used to be. We forget the bottlebrush intensity of a caterpillar tickling its way across our upturned palm; the thousand shades of green a leaf can be; the wonder of watching a devil's darning needle touch down weightlessly on a sunflower; the sound of raindrops plopping like little wet meteorites into the dust; the way in which, after the rain, the sky drips with liquid gold, and how it felt to breathe in the rich black odour of the earth itself.'

And in addition the excerpts from the Songs of Solomon and Proverbs add an ageless beauty.

Lovely reading....