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Posts Tagged ‘summer’

100_5888

Yesterday afternoon I noticed a strange color had taken over the sky, but clouds were building, so I didn’t give it too much more thought.  Then it began to rain and hail.  Odd, the sky was yellow instead of green.  Oh well, I thought, this altitude is so different than the one I grew up at, things may just be that different.

Then the clouds cleared, but the sky didn’t.  It was then we smelled smoke in the air. 

The night before we woke to terrible thunder.  The lightning was so close that it shook the house.  We would hear the initial crack of thunder, then a moment of silence before it began to echo up the valley.  It lasted only a short time, before moving on, but made me grateful for all the controlled burning that the forest service has done this year.

However, even with the controlled burning, the lightning found something.  Evidently, it wasn’t something too big, because this morning, the smoke is gone and the sky is clear!

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I just love the way the morning sun shines through the hollyhocks in the garden.  Every day I take time just to enjoy the view out my back door.  The hummingbirds zoom from flower to flower, chasing each other around and around the stalks and through the fence.  What a delight!

What are you taking time to enjoy today?

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I once read, that if growing hollyhocks was as difficult as growing roses, then they would be just as appreciated.  I think this is true. 

Hollyhocks have always been one of my favorite flowers.  Their tall stalks seem to rise effortlessly overhead and the flowers, bright and cheerful, are like rays of sunshine, smiling at the world.  They became even more significant to me when my great-aunt Beverly showed me how to make southern bells out of the flowers and buds.  We were visiting her at her home in South Sioux City, NE  when she showed my siblings and I how to stack   several open flowers on a toothpick to form the skirt of our Southern Bell, then add a bud for the head and another, smaller, open flower for a hat.   We covered her house in these glorious ladies, and still, there were more flowers to be had.

Here, I have them growing in front of my house, steadily creeping into the lawn.  When I moved in, there was three plants.  A white, a dark salmon and a light salmon.  The next year several pink ones made themselves known.  Now I have colors ranging from almost black, deep burgundy, pink, yellow, white, salmon and multi-colored ones.   Extras have been carefully transplanted to fill in areas of the landscaping that need more color and less weeds. 

I love the way these hardy plants will even crowd out the most aggressive grasses and weeds.  I love how their roots go deep, and how little water they need to survive.  I love that they are prone to thriving!

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If you knew…

…how many times I have planted cucumbers 

…how many times I have dreamed of jars of pickles

…how many times I’ve had not a single plant come up

…or all the times my plants have been eaten by grasshoppers the moment they are above ground…

Then you would understand my joy at finding not one, but three little flowers today!  The plants are only about 6″ tall, and it being almost August, I was afraid that once again I would have no cucumbers to pickle.

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With the sun shining brightly and storm clouds in the West, the boys pitched their tent in the back yard Saturday evening.  We had planned to go camping, but sickness had changed our plans. 

Not to be defeated, they decided to camp at home, and really, I think they  enjoyed it just as much as a trip into the mountains.   All the elements were there:  We had a campfire, cooked in the dutch oven, ate burnt food, because no one wanted to wait for proper coals to cook on.  Caleb had a fish that he had caught earlier.  He cooked that over the fire himself, and the rest of us had steak, which was not burnt.  All in all, it was a good evening, and everyone was up on time to make Church and Sunday School, despite having camped out.

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The middle of July is a special time of year here.  It is the beginning of berry picking season!  Huckleberries are the first berry to ripen.  They are small and tangy-sweet, a relative of the blueberry.  There are actually at least eight varieties of Huckleberries, all know by their characteristic dimples on the blossom end.

Today the boys and I took a little drive to our favorite picking site, after asking God to bless our trip with an abundance of Huckleberries. 

Last year we never found a single Huckleberry.   I assumed late frosts froze the blooms.  We tried repeatedly, and finally found some of them blooming mid August, but it froze hard, before the berries ripened.   This year, I drove to a wide spot in the road, parked and we gathered three cups of berries in about an hour!  It was so fun, watching them picking and eating, eating and picking. 

Everyone got involved, even baby.  He ate much more than he contributed to the buckets, in fact, when he first discovered the buckets, he thought he should be able to eat out of the bucket, instead of picking his own.

Since it is just the beginning of the season, we will be picking much more.  Only one of the three varieties, small little bushes that only grow 8″-12″ tall, are ripe.  The largest variety, which grow closer to three feet tall, are still in bloom. 

God is so good to us.  We asked Him to bless us with berries, and He  gave us more in an hour than I had hoped to find.  He also showed us that there would be much, much more to pick, in the near future.

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The world is a big beautiful place, just begging to be explored!  Every where you look, there is something to be discovered.  Something to learn about. 

As the seasons allow, we spend time learning about the world around us.  In the spring, birdwatching takes priority, as many beautiful breeds migrate through the area.  Due to all the snow, our bird feeders draw a crowd.  We spend hours a day looking up different species and reading about them.

When the snow melts, we explore the new plant growth and examine the first bugs to emerge from the ground.  This is also the time of year when the boys notice the rocks and their varying features. 

Since it is too cold to begin gardening, we often hike on these muddy days.  The boys collect snail shells and identify footprints, keeping a look out for bears that have recently left hibernation, and for young strawberry plants.

When summer finally arrives, we begin gardening.  They love to dig in the warm soil and watch the new plants emerge.  They enjoy sneaking extra potato eyes into the garden, and ‘tricking’ me into thinking it is a wild potato.  They love to see how many things reseed themselves, and how they change from year to year.

Summer also brings bugs, worms and fishing.  The boys are wonderful little fly tiers, concentrating on making something that looks like a real bug.

As fall draws near, we begin harvesting.  The onions above are known as Egyptian Onions.  They produce sets, not seeds.  In November of 2006, I was given five tiny sets, and told to plant them somewhere where I could just leave them alone for a year or two.  I did, scraping through the snow to put them in the ground, and in the spring of 2007, five little scallions emerged.  This past fall, 2008, I decided it was time to collect the sets and replant them.

We carefully cut the tops of the onions off, brought them in, and counted them.  We had 580 new sets!   They ranged in size from a lentil to a quarter.  We planted them in rows, and are anticipating making pickled onions this spring.  The original five, which bunched into 20-30 new plants, are still in the ground, and will make us a supply of sets for next year.  I am guessing we will have a couple thousand!

Winter is a time for skiing and indoor study.  Sitting around the fireplace and reading novels.  Manny joins us for many of the activities, and chooses many books to share with his sons.  This winter, they are building an igloo.  They are learning so many things about snow, ice, insulation and heat.

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