About Me

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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Not yet!

A few hours ago, a friend posted on Facebook that she was seeing snow flurries--in mid-October, in southeastern Ohio--not our typical October at all. I am not ready for winter, and neither is the garden. There are still "Fragrant Rose" daffodils to be planted. The potted tomato plant is sporting green balls too small for slicing and frying. After stubbornly refusing to bloom all summer, a cosmos started from seed in April is in bud for its its entire six-foot height (this plant not having gotten the memo that its species doesn't get that tall). I cut off the flowering stems in hopes that they will open in the house as the months without flowers go on for entirely too long.
Just a few days ago, the Blomburg Arboretum at the Parkersburg library was still pretty lively, with the aromatic asters in the shale barren bed in full bloom.
 The native grass bed was doing its delightful fall thing,

and the New England aster was still attracting its fair share of pollinators, eager to grasp the last bit of summery sweetness.

 Still, the approach of cold weather isn't all bad,since it does tend to intensify fall color. Even without it, the arboretum's American euonymus was putting on quite a show.
Maybe fall could hang on for a while before winter sets in?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Almost too good

There was no reason to expect that today would be anything but a good day, given that we seem to be in the midst of a stretch of perfect autumn weather, and given that I have good classes this term, but the day exceeded all reasonable expectations.

First, everyone in the morning composition class showed up and finished writing the mid-term essay on time with no grumbling. They are a delight. Then, the Environmental Action Group hosted its first presenter, our wonderful neighbor who regaled the assembled multitude (well, okay, twenty enthusiastic students) with tales of albatross-watching in the Northern Pacific and offered them an opportunity to try to reduce polymer pollution coming from our area. AND--he brought a life-sized model of a wandering albatross (nearly eleven feet from wingtip to wingtip). How cool is that?
 The afternoon Yeats class was even better than usual. We were discussing an earlyish play, and even without my prompting, the group took off on echoes of Greek tragedy and the Shakespearean double plot in our drama, followed by a raucous character analysis. By 1:45, I was exhausted, but it was a good exhaustion, the kind that comes from having given one's brain a good workout.

After a meeting with a representative of yet another active student group (which resulted in yet another project for the EAG, but hey, they've got energy), it was home to glorious sunshine, and the muhly grass that had in June had seemed to be dying in full, glorious bloom.
 Yes, that outrageous, cotton-candy pink is a native North American grass. (Excuse the blur: the wind was blowing, though the look of grass in wind is a main reason for growing the stuff in the first place.)
I couldn't get any to hold still for photographs, but the air was filled with skippers and with white and yellow butterflies. whirling through the blowing grasses only to pause to nectar on the not-quite-done asters.

Some days are almost too perfect.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Another Bright Light Gone Out

I learned a few days ago that James Van Sweden, with his late partner Wolfgang Oehme a creator of the New American Garden, died from complications of Parkinson's disease on September 20. His classic Gardening With Nature was one of the first books I read on gardening with sweeps of grasses and meadow plants, and their Bold Romantic Gardens is a visual feast. Both books, alas, are out of print.

Luckily, the public gardens and the style these two pioneered live on. (I suppose some of the private gardens do as well as I imagine the firm's services were expensive.) You can see photographs of some of their work on their firm's website. Lots of plants, lush and lovely. They did not use only plants native to the garden's geographic area, but their work inspired people who are attempting to create more naturalistic landscapes. As much as I have always loved old roses, I doubt that I will ever attempt to have a garden of them again: too much fussing (even though they are WAY better than hybrid teas in that respect) and not enough wildlife sociability to justify their taking up valuable garden real estate. The work of Van Sweden, Oehme, and other pioneers has inspired lots of  people to resist the tyranny of the lawn and the pruned evergreen.

It's not there yet, but some day, our front garden will be bold and romantic. 
The muhlygrass/lovegrass combination is trying. 

RIP, Mr. Van Sweden.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Who are those old people?

Today brought the memorial service of a cousin, the elder child of my mother's middle sister. Cousin Laura, even after "getting religion" in her old age, retained traces of the spirited, multiply-divorced lounge singer and cocktail waitress she had been during part of her youth. (She was an original Wild Child.)

My maternal grandmother bore thirteen children between 1899 and 1924, nine of whom lived, and all of whom reproduced. I have lots of first cousins, some of whom I never met, and some of whom are now in their nineties, if they're still alive. Five of the "younger" of us (ranging in age from 57 to 74) were at today's service, along with Laura's middle-aged grandchildren and adult great-grandchildren (!). Three of us had literally not seen each other for forty-five years, when I was in middle school. We recognized each other only because of the strong resemblance to our parents at similar ages. This was a very strange moment.

Time passes much too fast, dear ones.  It still feels like summer, but the leaves are turning. Don't forget to enjoy the show.