Wednesday, May 04, 2016


What a day! Sure, cool for May. But what a day!

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Remember January? Well now!

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So much loveliness it hurts!

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In the sun room.

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And then to Snowdrop's home.

And from the beginning -- please! here are your shoes, grandma, please!

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Then can we play ball?
Sure, Snowdrop.

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That smile comes so easily to her...

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Finally, the walk.

(In the neighborhood.)

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(So playful!)

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And in the afternoon, I do the big push to fill the new front flower field. Ed catches me in the act of stomping, studying, selecting and finally -- digging and planting.

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This is my day. Beautiful.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

stuck in a song

It is not a day of new tasks or novel ideas or pursuits. I am, in fact, stuck in a pattern that may well continue for the next ten grand weather days (if they continue to be grand weather days). It's like a song that I have in my head -- hum one bar and you'll recognize the rest of the tune because you've heard it so often before. But it's no less pretty, just because it's familiar.

Here we go -- my lovely May song.

The old pear, in the early morning light:

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I have another dig and divide project. I pick up the shovel right after letting the cheepers out. Scotch follows, watches, and gets the worms. She's very good at it. So is Butter. The new girls are still learning.

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The crab is at its finest, I think. Opening buds. A canvas of color.

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Still early. Buckets of composted soil, spades, flower pots, cart for toting chips.

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What else is blooming?

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Even the plants that aren't yet close to their flowering stage are looking grand in the dewy morning light.

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To the north of us, the truck farmers are working long hours.

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This is when the hens take turn laying. Henny's done. Out for a stroll now.

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Breakfast on the porch. We're both eating, while the cheepers do their morning cleaning routines just at the other side of the screen.

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Ed had promised to come with me for a quick trip to the Flower Factory to pick up a few plants that are not day lilies (for the ever expanding front bed). Their displays always look lovely along the colorful fences by the greenhouses.

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Going there and coming back, we avoid the highway and stick to our favorite country roads. There are rewards to taking a longer route!

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We pass a small greenhouse called Natalie's. Only annuals. We don't need annuals, but I tell Ed we should at least pick up one tiny flat of something to support this small grower.
You never plant marigolds... he mutters.
Alright. Let's get some for you. I'll put them in by the path to the sheep shed.

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In the afternoon and early evening, I am with Snowdrop. I bring her to the farmhouse, thinking I can get some planting done during her nap. Well, that doesn't happen. Phone calls to return, emails to write. Still, it's terrific to have her here.

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What's that buzzing by?
One of the many lovely bugs that share the gardens with us..

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If ever there was a bucolic canvas...

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She continues her conversation with the cheepers. They listen attentively.

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Lunch, nap, wake up. Oh, how beautiful are her smiles after a solid rest!

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Toward evening, I tell her we'll be making pizza again. It's such a good dish to make with a child!

She's giving directions.

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She's not sure I got everything right...

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I tell her she can go chill while the pizza bakes. She happily loses herself in her books at her table.

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And then it's dinnertime and she is a most rewarding guest...

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And poof! -- the day is done.

See? Not much was different. A rerun of the most beautiful melodies. Nothing more, nothing less.

Monday, May 02, 2016

farmhouse Monday

In a surprise move, Ed beat me to the chicken coop this morning. In other words, I had the luxury of watching the sun fill the bedroom as it rose to a blue sky.

And over breakfast, in the sun room, he surprised me again by asking -- do you really want to extend the front flower bed a few more feet? It's looking so good!

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Well yes, but I'm running low on flowers to plant. This morning I was moving and dividing. That wont fill another empty flower bed.
I suppose we could go to the Verona ladies and pick up a few more day lilies.

Ed can be very unpredictable.

The fact is, we are so immensely lucky this year. The northeastern states had a more glorious March but then a more frosty April -- that's bad news for may flowers. Several nurseries offered to work with you to slowly replace all you may have lost to the rise and fall of temperatures. France had an even worse case of heaving: I read that the Loire Valley may have lost a significant portion of the grape crop to an unexpected hard frost mid April. We had none of this. I've complained of the cold and of the grayness during parts of April, but we have been progressing nicely with a warm up now and we never suffered the severe weather that so damaged the planting season for others.

And so I suppose we're celebrating this year's good fortune.

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Even our annuals never once needed a blanket for the night. (Though I do wish the chipmunk family would feast on something other than what I've planted in the tubs. Ah well. We share.)

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Of course, it's Monday and so Snowdrop spends the day at the farmette.
Where did the chickens go?

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Her mom happened to dress her in blues and I have to smile at the appropriateness of this for an early May day which still is so full of yellows and gentle greens.

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Want a dandelion, grandma?

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I let her pick one daffodil...

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And I try to get her to take in a whiff of our white lilacs, which are just starting to bloom and which fill the air with the most beautiful fragrance, and she is great at the exhale, the protracted ahhhh! -- but I'm not sure she fully appreciates the headiness of the season. She smiles indulgently when I rhapsodize over a lilac bloom.

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Or maybe she does understand? The draw of the outdoors remains so strong for her. Too, there are the cheepers. She wants to be close to them and she keeps going back to the coop area to chat them up.

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Do they understand each other? Do they all speak a basic language of life that we, adults, later rip apart and shape and mold to our own needs? She reaches out and makes cooing noises and the cheepers don't run away. I swear, they listen.

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(All that time with the chickens means that her shoes need a thorough rinse. Hold her, Ed while I scrub each of them down!)

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Lunchtime. This girl is such a good eater! And no one loves berries (which today had the addition of cherries) as much as Snowdrop! Such an appropriate bib for her.

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Want to try a fork, little one?
Spear and pounce, eh? You spear, I'll pounce!

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In the afternoon, Ed moves loads of wood chips to expand the flower bed.

What are you doing, grandpa Ed?

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The cheepers hover. Snowdrop likes that.

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Yes, there is time indoors. A small amount of time!

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And in the evening, I drive over country roads...

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... to the Verona ladies (or one of them -- the one whose heart is with day lilies) and I talk petal length and blooming time and all the other crazy things day lily people talk about. (But let me admit this much: often times, I will pick a day lily for its name. You already know about Prairie Moonlight. Today I reached for Channel Island and Gentle Shepherd and French Lingerie, though I still think the best is last week's choice of Nina Winegar, which looks good next to today's Gentle Ed.)

Sunday, May 01, 2016


Wherever I have lived (and there have been only five places -- the deep Polish countryside, Warsaw, New York, Chicago and the greater Madison area), I always thought that if you take all senses into account, May has to be the most beautiful month of the year. [Well, except for in Chicago: I don't think I ever noticed the seasons in Chicago. There was winter and then there was non-winter. I think I was pining for green spaces. New York, after all had Central Park. Chicago had a lot of concrete and absolutely no easy escape from the city for a student without a car.]

May's beauty is so obvious, so in your face stunning that you don't even have to explain yourself when you write, say in a post -- my, but today was a beautiful day! We're in May. That says it all.

It was not supposed to be a superb weather day, but in fact, expecting mediocrity, I was pleasantly surprised when the temps climbed into the mid 50sF (low teens C). I shed my sweater and worked.

Oh, sure, there was a late breakfast...

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...but no Sunday farmhouse cleaning. Since Ed had been out yesterday evening, I decided to be productive and get house cleaning over and done with then. He returned late to find me vacuuming. I was proud.

I had made great progress with the yard work last weekend, but of course, there were now new day lilies from the ladies in Verona to be planted... (Here, I'm surveying the task ahead and in my field of vision I'm expecting to see a cheeper or two parading through the yard and instead I see a turkey.)

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And, too, I'm expecting a sentimental (if not large) order from White Flower Farm in Connecticut -- they were the first company that I knew of that sold perennials in the States back in the late 1980s and every time I start a new bed, I buy a few things from them in grateful appreciation for all that they did to get people interested in creating perennial beds.

And finally, I overheard someone commenting the other day that the most fragrant day lily they had ever encountered was something with the incredibly romantic (in my view) name of Prairie Moonlight and isn't it too bad that you can't buy it anywhere around here... Well now, the Internet can easily solve the hunt down for this and I got a box from Oakes Daylilies in Tennessee with a few Moonlights just this week. (I love greenhouses that include a free surprise with your order -- from Oakes, I got a day lily with the less enchanting name of First Lady Barbara, though Ed reminded me that the person whose name the lily holds is a sweet old lady who probably deserves to have at least a flower named after her.)

In the course of my work, I did look up occasionally -- for instance, when Ed said with surprise -- you know, the cheepers love the fallen petals from the pear tree! (By the way, in answer to a reader question -- yes, the same chicken delivers the same color of egg, so I can tell who may be slacking, given that our four girls have different egg shell pigmentation.)

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And since I did some spot improvements around the path to the farmhouse, I paused to take a picture there, not because it was the most beautiful moment (there were many others equally beautiful), but because I typically hang my camera on the curly willow branch when I am outside, which puts me exactly in this pot when I retrieve it.

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Oh, and let me include a photo of the bulb flowers -- the survivor tulips and the ever awesome daffodils, because they still are incredibly gorgeous and abundant.

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In the evening, Snowdrop comes with her mom (dad's working) for supper.

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I am thrilled to see them walking up the path, but all the commotion alerts the cheepers of her presence and they rush over to greet her (they do associate her with the good things in life -- eg stale bread) and she rushes to greet them and of course, neither can give what the other wants (they want bread, she wants to snuggle with them), but there is joy in that greeting anyway. They know she will at some point bring bread and she knows that in their feathered hearts she retains a special place.

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(Speaking of a special place in the heart of another...)

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Yes, the girl is all smiles tonight.

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She eats with enthusiasm: pasta with lemon shrimp? Yum! Cooked carrots? Yes!

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Final minutes of play...

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... and then I drive these two home.

First day of May. How quickly it zipped by!