We are greeted by a thick bank of lake fog every morning, lately. Some times we can’t even see the far side of the lake, it’s so thick. The air is chilly and everything is dripping with dew. By noon, though, the sun has burned off the last wisps and the air is clear and bright.
The rest of the country may be deep in the thrall of autumn; but here in Sunnybrae, my garden is reveling in stolen summer kisses.
Warning: my beautiful pictures have posted upside down again. I do not understand. sorry for the discombobulation…I hope you will enjoy the post anyway.
The early morning air is cool when I step outside and stand for a moment on the front porch. I’m savouring the start of the day, before heat drives me inside to take refuge under the ceiling fan.
Noticing the flower pots are thirsty, I uncoil a bit of hose and turn on the tap. Water wand in one hand and coffee cup in the other, I douse the containers before moving on to the small raised garden where zucchini hang off the vines and nasturtiums tumble over the side. The sun is warm, but not too hot to stand under yet, so I uncoil more hose and move along the perennial bed, admiring the plants that I put in when I built the bed last year.
I need to research August-blooming plants because there isn’t a lot of colour in the perennial bed at the moment But, I note how each plant has grown and imagine how it will look after another two years pass. I remember reading that a perennial bed takes three years to mature. It won’t be until the fourth summer that it will be in its full glory.
I wander down the length of the bed slowly until I reach the friendship rose, a Blanc de Coubert Rugosa that I brought with me from Whitehorse. I call it the friendship rose because years ago, three of us (Kim, Candy & I) used to get together at each others homes over the summer for tea and a garden tour. We’d admire the progress of our gardens, dream over seed catalogues, plan for the next year. Sometimes we’d go out for lunch or visit a garden center. One time, on the spur of the moment, we all bought the same rose bush. Kim and I have remained in touch, but I haven’t seen Candy in years. I wonder if she still has hers? Sadly, although it is a zone 3 plant, the Yukon is not the ideal climate for a Blanc de Coubert, and my poor little bush just barely survived. It hardly grew larger than it was the day we bought it. Kim’s rose has fared equally poorly. When we moved, I couldn’t bear to leave it behind, so I dug it up and brought it with me. In two summers, the rose has already doubled in size. A little bit of the Yukon in Sunnybrae. 🙂
I water the friendship rose and move on to the blueberry bushes and the rhubarb. This end of the yard is still in the shade, lovely and cool. I see weeds. Oh, the bane of my existence! Beautiful green leaves that display dainty blue flowers in the spring. Foolishly, I encouraged them last year. Now I know better. And daisies, too. Back in Whitehorse I used to chastise Mr. C. when he’d mow them down in the side lawn. I worked so hard to encourage them to grow. But here! Here they grow everywhere. They take over the bed like a cuckoo bird pushing its host’s eggs out of the nest and leaving behind its own to flourish in the rich soil.
I march to the garage. Put my empty coffee cup down and don my gardening gloves. Three-prong hand-rake in hand, I march back across the lawn, drop to my knees and start digging and pulling. Inch by inch the area around the blueberries bushes returns to black soil. I move down the bed, leaving the shade and entering the sun. Under the lavender, more baby daisies are hiding, just waiting to grow up and assimilate the brethern. I yank them out.
A wasp buzzes by on its way to breakfast at the hummingbird feeder and I swat it away from my ear. I think, “here I am, weeding the lavender in the sunshine,” and I can feel myself smiling from the inside out. Did you know that lavender propagates by the root? I didn’t. I don’t think lavender grows in the Yukon, so how would I know how it propagates? Lo and behold, when I lift the lavender to pull the weeds hiding underneath, I find lavender spikes coming out of the ground more than six inches from the parent stock.
After a while I sit back on my heels and take a little break. My back is sweaty. My head is hot. In only an hour the sun has gone from pleasant to brutal. I stand up and brush the grass off my knees. Suddenly, I realize that I’ve been gardening in flipflops and a dress.
This fact makes me smile, because back when I worked at Yukon College, I used to fantasize about my retirement. One of the things I wanted to do was learn to sew my own dresses. Another thing was to go out in the mornings and water the garden with a hose whenever I wanted to (not just on Saturdays & Sundays during July).
Well, here I am, this morning. I’ve just come inside, to wash the grass stains off my knees with a cool washcloth. to scrub my wrists and arms, and wash the sweat off my face and neck. And I am wearing a sundress that I made myself.
I finally finished the top (flimsy) of the garden quilt!
It’s the bow-tie pattern with hand-appliqued hexie rosettes.
It is now sandwiched, basted and in the frame – ready to be quilted.
And here is another Because You Matter quilt. This little double Irish chain will go to a child through the RCMP Victim’s Services Unit here in Salmon Arm (via the Shuswap Quilt Guild.) Fabric & batting donated by the Shuswap Quilt Guild. Labour donated by yours truly.
It’s too hot to sew. It’s too hot to dig in the garden. It’s too hot to go for a walk. How about a garden tour? That will cool us off!
I know some of my Whitehorse friends have been dying to see what I’m growing down here.
My new yard here in the Shuswap isn’t very big.
It’s pretty tiny, actually.
Over the spring I was busy digging a border and filling it up with perennials.
Some plants were already there. I didn’t know what a lot of them were and probably pulled out a few before I found out they weren’t actually weeds…
Does anybody know what this blue flower is? It isn’t morning glory.
At the far end of the yard there is a small vegetable box. Mr. C is going to built me another. I also planted three blueberry bushes and a sickly rhubarb that the neighbor passed along (and is looking much better already). Everything will grow up nice and big over time.
I put raspberries under the deck overhang.
And vegetables wherever I can fit them in.
Bush beans are in the planter at the front of the yard. Please excuse Samson, he is giving me the stink eye because he didn’t feel like posing.
There was this funny oval in the middle of the yard with nothing growing in it but weeds and one scraggly rose bush. So I filled it up with strawberry plants, tomatoes, chives and bell peppers. (oh yes, and marigolds)
There are lots and lots of daisies along the driveway (which are my very favourite) that were here already.
Here is one thing that I almost pulled out this spring. I’m awfully glad I didn’t…it is a hollyhock and already taller than I am!
Of course I put in lots of shrub roses. Rosa Rugosa, in honour of us being from the Yukon, you know!
I hardly bought any annuals at all. Just these to decorate the front gate.
Have you ever chosen a word
just one single word
to guide you through the year?
For the last couple of years I’ve held the word balance close to my heart. It was the word that helped me to navigate a very busy life: teaching up to 5 dance classes per week, directing a dance troupe, choreographing and producing shows while managing to have a family life and working a 9-5 day job (phew!)
Balance was the word that got me through to the other side of menopausal depression. I was out of balance physically, emotionally and hormonally. Searching for and maintaining balance was the lifeline that I clung to and the rope I hauled myself up by. It kept me secure during the heartache of deciding to let go of my dance troupe and students. I kept it in the front of my mind during my weight loss journey (65 pounds!). It was the word that taught me to put health and happiness above productivity.
Balance guided me through the waters of deciding to retire relatively young; to move to a new town and seek out new adventures.
Balance: what a beautiful word!
But now it’s time for a new word to live by. It’s time to get out of the box and…
This year I am going to play in my kitchen and learn to bake a cake from scratch. Specifically, some of the Chatelaine cakes. Yum!
…and I will experiment creating delicious meals from all over the globe: India, Japan, Italy, Thailand…! No fear in the kitchen will be my new motto – play with those spices, Nita! Try it out!
In my Creativity room I will play in the sewing nook, on the yoga mat, in-front-of the dance mirror and with words at my laptop.
My body will become stronger as I play outdoors, exploring local walking and hiking trails with Kelly and Sammy. We’ll take our bikes out and explore some of the country roads.
I will play in the garden, discovering all the wonders of living in a zone 5 gardening region.
I vow to put myself “out there” and be open to meeting new friends, getting involved in the community somehow (music? theater? dance?)
My friend Melissa at 100 Billion Stars puts it brilliantly (you can read her entire blog post here):
Play is a way of making room for our potential. It isn’t about pretending to be something we hope to be one day. It isn’t about presenting a different face to the world, trying on masks and personae. It’s about being authentic and true to ourselves in an atmosphere without judgment or rules. It’s from this place that growth begins, releasing the possibilities that have been lying dormant all our lives.
So here I am this morning, wishing you all a wonderful year of play and a hell of a good time doing it!