Sunday, September 17, 2017

reflecting on summer

At the grocery store it suddenly hit me:
I haven't tasted watermelon even once this year, and it's nearly apple season!

We didn't have a Summer this year in my neck of the woods. We really didn't. What we had was a Mud Season that went on and on and on, and simultaneously became what is known in Massachusetts as "wick-id haht." All the paddocks have been awfully wet, and the little barn paddock never dried out - ever! It's still muddy and slippery despite the hay "stepping stones" I recently threw down in desperation so I could get to the various shelters and feeders with less risk of falling. Like their goatherd, the goats also step carefully from spot to spot on the hay, and not because they are silly or "spoiled," in fact, just the opposite. These goats have the survival sense to try to keep their feet from becoming diseased due to constant exposure to moisture. And I appreciate this trait, because although I do my best to keep up with frequent checks and trims, if we get all the way to Winter with healthy hooves this year it will be some kind of miracle.

Campion feels that his hooves are PERFECT and he would appreciate it if I would please STOP checking and trimming because it involves a human (me) Touching His Feet! UGH!!

Continuing with the theme "Summer, Lack Of": a few words about the gardens. if you've been reading Comptonia for more than a year - and I know some of you have been reading it since the beginning for which I thank you very much - you know I put a lot of determined effort into growing as much of my own food as possible. It's important to me economically and from a health perspective.

Well, if I was genuinely dependent upon what I grow to get me through the Winter, this is without doubt the Winter I would starve. The relentlessly rainy months made planting difficult for the gardener, and growing a challenge for the plants. After finally managing to plant - and trellis - about 40 feet of pole bean rows, I harvested a total of two and a half handfuls - literally - of beans this year. The okra is about a foot high now. My fingers are crossed for the Candy Roaster squash which are currently in valiant flower, as are the Suyo Long cucumbers. If you look closely, you may see a tiny cucumber on this vine:

Even the hardy perennial flowers have struggled, and I've been sketching and painting here at home more often than in the woods this year, in appreciation. Below are a few days from #DrawingAugust, each done either just before or just after a rainstorm, in a little spot between the perennial gardens and the stilt barn.

This folding chair has been kept in the stilt barn, dusty but dry,
and ready to set up for a quick session with watercolors or pen:

If you were sitting in that folding chair and looked down by your feet,
you would see these violet leaves:

If you then turned your head slightly to the left, your eye-level view would be a wild tangle of hyssop, bee balm, and goldenrod:

When the mosquitoes forced your retreat to the porch,
you might endure them for one more minute while you stand and dab a watercolor sketch of this unidentified butterfly enjoying the bee balm:

Even though it hasn't been a Summer, these past few months have provided occasional sunny moments and, eventually, precious and colorful flowers for which I am deeply grateful. More than once a drenched but stalwart daylily was the highlight of morning and evening chores.

And in case you missed it in the picture above, here is a closer look at a tiny cucumber with flower still attached, tucked back behind the stem:

Fingers crossed!


Just a quick blogistics note...

When I put up a new post, I usually respond to comments on the previous post at the same time. My internetting has been in fits and starts recently, so this may mean a lengthy delay between your comment and my response - sorry!

Comments are one of the best parts of blogging, and according to the blog stats, I receive an average of roughly one comment per 100 pageviews - you folks are a quiet lot! I do try to stay in touch either through comments on your blogs, or here. I just want you to know you may have to look back to the prior post for a response to a comment you've made on Comptonia.

Does that make sense?
I hope so.