Tuesday, July 24, 2012

peaches and tomtoes

Can I interest you in photos of growing things?

Our most wonderful and exciting hour was actually an early one: right after breakfast (Ed asks – can we eat inside? The fruit bowl is so pretty here...)

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(The fruits and tomatoes are a 50 - 50 mix of store bought and from the garden.)

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A storm had passed through and the world is damp – a rare feeling these days. (If you stuck your finger in the soil, you’d find that there wasn’t the needed sustained rainfall, but still, we’ll take the sprinkles. And the cooling clouds.)
Want to walk the property?
Of course I do. The three of us set out. It’s always the three of us – when we walk the land, Isis tags along. Even today, when the grasses are wet. True, he gets a hoist up if he asks for it.

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We examine the crop of our farmer, Lee, out back. Some of the plantings are damaged, others look good and strong. (They’re cucumbers, right? I’m used to seeing cucumbers crawl along the ground.)

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And we look over our new orchard. We’re losing one of the cherries to some unrecognizable disease and another tree is just a stick, having given up all leaves to a hungry deer, but the rest (dozen or so) appear fine.

And the tomatoes! Oh my, unless some untoward calamity takes our crop away, we’ll have a load to freeze for sure. For me, it is the most useful vegetable to preserve for the winter. (Nearly) every soup can incorporate tomatoes and the ones in stores have been really poor, even now, during the high season.

Ed asks – why did we plant so many tiny ones? Useless for freezing!
But great for salads! From now until frost, no dish of greens will be without these!

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We take another peek at the peaches too. They are almost ripe and we’re tempted to pull the whole crop off because the beetles, those very same beetles that are attacking our roses, are burrowing into the fruit. And they’re harder to shake off into soapy water here. If we pick all the peaches now, that'll mean peach ice cream, peach cakes and peach on oatmeal every day. (This is the one fruit that I don’t like to freeze. Defrosted peaches are... yukky.)

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Later in the morning, I replant various herbs and Ed, rather optimistically, empties out the remaining peas from a seed pack, counting on a harvest 60 days from now. That would put us at the end of September. Remember September in Wisconsin? There may be night frost by then!

Night frost... If there is anything that’ll put fire under my typing fingers it’s the idea that we are almost at the heels of fall.

And yet I linger outside, chasing down beetles, potting dahlias for a daughter who needs dahlias, snipping off spent heads of coreopsis and the fleeting lilies.

A commenter wrote a few days back -- Time in the garden is time well spent. One of my favorite things about it, besides promoting beauty, is that it's a chance to let my mind wander and be productive at the same time. That’s really so exactly correct! We have the heat, but we haven’t the bugs this year.  And so we can live outside. [I'm referring to the absence of mosquitoes... Ed chased wasps off the truck yesterday and with great ire, they relocated to my red Escort: first around the door handle then, after Ed put an old quilt over that, onto the wheel base... we offer them numerous places for repose and they continue to favor our wrecks of cars.]
It is a summer when I'm not pushing for us to go up north (they had the rains and, therefore, the bugs) or west. Not to hike, not to kayak, not to camp. It is quite wonderful just to walk the land and comment on how the tomatoes are getting along.

fixing things

On some days I think -- this is it, a perfect rendition of how a summer day should unfold. Other days? Well, they're like a checkerboard cookie: they have their chocolate and then too, their indifferently pale squares.  

 Much of the day was straightforward. My daughter is moving. I'm known to do miracles with shelf paper (meaning, I put it on shelves methodically, without throwing it on anything or anyone within eyesight, despite deep frustrations that always arise when attending to this dreary task ) and so I am charged with the job of putting it on the shelves of her new residence. That's the good set of chocolate squares. Providing help to a daughter is up there with doing good in this world.

Ed’s at her place too, with his highest possible ladder replacing lightbulbs. (I have to ask: who thinks of putting lamps in places that are out of reach of the ordinary mortal?)

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All good, all wonderful.

And here are  few more good squares: friends are at the farmhouse for dinner -- the kind of friends that you love to cook for because they are so very forgiving as to timing and presentation -- and this is the perfect opportunity to make a summer meal: salmon with blueberries and shallot, salad with cucumbers and tomato, roastedcorn. And plum honey ice cream.

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Who can not love plum honey ice cream?!

And so dinner is on the good side of the square pattern as well.

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On the other side? Well, for one thing, I'm late with posting. And Ed and I continue to have the conversation about what role we play in the game of life. On chocolate days, you could think of this as a wonderful engagement in life's challenges. In the less delectable times, you might consider it a tiring discourse that has no good answers, showcasing our most glaring differences in ways that benefit no one. 

And, don't forget that it hit 99 degrees this afternoon and I wasn't ready for it so most of newly planted green stuff wilted.

Thank God for daughters, friends and plum honey ice cream.

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And Ed and me. Thank God for that funky crazy world that he and I inhabit. Together.  With all our dissonances and chocolate squares as well.