Sunday, July 30, 2017


Every photographer I know prefers the early or late hours for picture taking. By the time the summer sun is nearing its noon zenith, the light is too strong, too full of contrast. The subtlety has gone out the door.

My garden work was later than on a typical day and so I really was a reluctant picture taker today. And still, as always, I am pleasantly surprised. Enchanted actually! The day is brilliant, the lilies are not ready to give up (I pick 431 spent ones today), the patterns of shade and light are audacious and  lovely!

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This indeed is summer!

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The Great Bed has a back row of flowers that you rarely see here, as they're snuggle behind the tall monardas. Let's poke in and take a look: you can tell that we're on the final blooms. Each stalk has many snipped off buds.

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The front road bed moves between shade and light as the sun sweeps a grand arc to the south, occasionally disappearing behind tall maple branches. These gorgeous lilies too are near their final days.

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Though my work now is mostly with lilies, I see that they're sharing quite a bit of space with the phloxes and sunflowers. Once we figured out how to successfully stake the tallest plants (the mock sunflowers), they've come to require no work during the bloom period, though they'll benefit from a pruning job when the flowers are past their prime.

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Breakfast is very late. But very luxurious, as we both are done with our outdoor work! [Ed has taken on the task of managing the japanese beetle population. He has set up traps in the new orchard and by the grapes and each day he empties them and disposes of the thousands of bugs that accumulate there. It's not a fun job, but he is hoping to save the grapes and eventually make a dent in the beetle swell at the farmette.]

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As for our afternoon -- I don't know where the hours disappeared. Truly, I do not know. Finishing the farmhouse cleaning -- sure, a little of that. And eventually I begin dinner preparations -- yes, of course. But I feel the day moved far too quickly from afternoon to evening. Sundays have that uncanny habit of speeding up the clock on me.

Dinner is for a slightly larger crowd and once more, there is a lot of "local" on the table. Okay, the shrimp -- they're not Wisconsin. But the tomatoes and basil that accompany them are! As is, of course, the corn. And the arugula and lettuces. Dessert, too is every bit our own: sour cherry frozen yogurt. (And the cream in the chocolate sauce is definitely from our state's dairy herds!)

But we begin our meal with my nod still to Parma. I make fried bread pockets for the prosciutto, I bring out the Aperol and Prosecco for our summer spritzes. Olives, cheese -- yes, Wisconsin cheese, but I'm feeling like one foot of my meal preparation is still dangling in Parma's kitchens.

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Snowdrop climbs up on a high stool and participates. Olives? yum! Fried bread and prosciutto? Is there more??

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And cheese. Ahah shares.

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As I work on dinner, my daughter takes out an album of photos that I took when she was just Snowdrop's age. Such a lovely set of memories, recalled now on this summer evening, with glasses of iced spritzes at the side...

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Dinner. Always a happy event!

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And the girl today is hungry!

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But we all leave room for the sour cherry ice cream. It's just so good and so evocative of a Wisconsin summer out by the great Lake Michigan, where most of the cherries grow.

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Can I have more of the chocolate sauce?
The girl knows the good combinations in life!

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The night is cool and beautiful. Full of fireflies and stars. Twinkling, winking at us, reminding me and you that summer always does come around, delivering its singular joys.