Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Garden Glory

With every season, the bee garden adjacent to our front field transforms itself, moving a quarter of the way through its annual cycle. In the winter, it is mostly bare, with only stem skeletons topped with dried seed pods left standing as feed for the winter birds.  Spring comes slowly, signaled first by the arrival of the umbrella-like mayapples and fragrant magnolia blossoms. Then thimbleweed springs up with its almost iridescent white flowers rising from a whorl of dark green leaves, and the St. John's wort begins to put out massive yellow flower clusters. With the approach of summer, comes the coneflowers, beebalms and trumpet vine. 

But it isn't until September that this native garden comes into its full glory, with royal ironweed and millennial-pink Joe-Pye weed reaching ever skyward, interwoven with 8-foot cut-leaf prairie dock's leafless stems boasting yellow blossoms that follow the sun as it makes its way across the bluest skies. The goldenrods and asters provide a striking mix of yellows and purples while the mountain mint, boneset and wild quinine provide the perfect landing spots for all sorts of bees and butterflies. The native grasses -- prairie dropseed, switchgrass and bluestem -- shimmer in the sun's light, while black-eyed susans sway cheerfully along the western border. 

The honey bees buzz in and out of their custom-built home, delighted to have an all-you-can-eat nectar buffet just outside their hive entrance, while hummingbirds hover and dart, hover and dart. Cardinals, mockingbirds and song sparrows sing sweetly from the tulip tree, while goldfinch snack on the spent coneflower seeds. 

All in all, it is a lovely time to wander the stone path that Ed and Jack helped me lay with stones lifted from Lutz Creek at the far eastern edge of Farm Dover. 

Come along on a walk with me....

In the garden...

St. John's-wort, Hypericum prolificum
Devil's Walking Stick, Aralia spinosa*
Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium* 
Prairie Dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis*
Big Bluestem, Andropogon gerardii*
Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum*
Cut-leaf Prairie Dock, Silphium pinnatifidum*
Ironweed, Veronia gigantea*
Joe-Pye Weed, Eupatorium fistulosum* 
Stiff Goldenrod, Solidago rigida*
New England Aster, Aster novae-angliae*
Eastern Bluestar, Amsonia tabernaemontana
Foxglove Beardtongue, Penstemon digitalis
Maryland Goldenaster, Chrysopsis mariana*
Slender Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum tenuifolium* 
Gray Goldenrod, Solidago nemoralis*
Thimbleweed, Anemone virginica
Rough Goldenrod, Solidago rugosa* 
Culver's Root, Veronicastrum virginicum 
Wild Quinine, Parthenium integrifolium* 
Smooth Blue Aster, Aster laevis 
False Blue Indigo, Baptisia australis
Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium*
Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea*
Orange Coneflower, Rudbeckia fulgida
Bee Balm, Monarda fistulosa
Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum*
Lanceleaf coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata
Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca
Swamp Milkweed, Aclepias Incarnata
Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans*
Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata  

*now blooming


Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Return of the Cousins!

For the past seven summers we have hosted a cousins' visit to Farm Dover as part of "Grandma Camp," organized by their Louisville grandmother, my cousin Glenda. It all began in 2013 as an afternoon outing for the two out-of-town grandchildren, but quickly became an overnight adventure, with the addition of one, then two, of the Louisville grandchildren. (Note: we send their Grandma home for a rest!)

As in past years, during their annual visit, we baked a peach pie, harvested dinner from the garden, climbed trees, did crafts, roasted marshmallows, and went on multiple hikes down to the waterfall and the fairy hangouts. I'm always amazed at how much the cousins change from year to year, gaining confidence in breaking eggs into the mixing bowl, tasting edibles straight from the garden, climbing higher and higher in the catalpa tree, helping with the cooking and cleanup, and producing crafts that involve hot beeswax, essential oils, and pressed flowers.

The day after they left, Ed and I took off on our Canada trip, so I did not have a chance to post photos from this year's visit. I present them to you now...


 And here's a little trip down memory lane...





Ed and I are already looking forward to the 2020 visit of Nathan, Julia, Frances and Jane. We love them dearly!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

O Canada!

August 14-26.  Farm Dover. Indiana. Illinois. Wisconsin. Minnesota. North Dakota. Manitoba. Saskatchewan. Montana. Wyoming. South Dakota. Iowa. Nebraska. Missouri. Indiana. Farm Dover. 4013 miles.


He loves nothing more than to drive for long stretches across open country. If there is traffic, forget it. Red lights and detours make him cranky. But wide open roads — without billboards or 18 wheelers — make him happy. Throw in some mountains, or lakes, forgotten small towns, and old barns, and he is one very happy man. 

He’s also a man who appreciates a well-thought-out list. This most recent trip allowed him to check off not one, but two, Canadian provinces: Manitoba and Saskatchewan, leaving only Newfoundland for another day. He consults his camping list and his “before-leaving-home” list one last time before locking the door and stopping at the driveway’s end to close the farm gate, reset the odometer, and say a quick prayer for safe travels. Then, he pulls out onto a foggy Dover Road. The adventure begins....


She can’t navigate, simply can’t. Her brain doesn’t distinguish north from south, east from west, sometimes even left from right. Thank goodness for their GPS, that tiny suctionable screen. She is off the hook; some other woman — one with a pleasant voice — can tell him which way to turn. 

However, she is good at finding interesting places to stop, local restaurants with quirky character and good food, and lovely campgrounds or clean hotels. Often they travel without reservations, with only a general idea of where they are headed or how long they will be gone. As he drives, she researches possible itineraries on her cracked-screen iPad. 

“Take exit 171 to St. Cloud, up here a ways,” she says to him. She has found an old-timey take-out hamburger joint (famous for its milk shakes) and a a beautiful public garden on the banks of the Mississippi. Before he knows it, he is sitting next to her on a shaded park bench enjoying a cheeseburger and sharing an embarrassingly large mound of fries. Afterwards, they stroll through the garden slurping their shakes.


As they travel along the back roads, she stays watchful for good photo opportunities. He never seems irritated by her requests to pull over for one more quick shot. 

When they get beyond the range of an NPR station, she keys up an audible book — a way to help the miles slip by. This trip they make it through both “Educated,” by Tara Westover and “English Major,” by Jim Harrison. When a book ends, or when it just gets too much to listen to, they switch to his ancient iPod and listen to Gordon Lightfoot, Ian and Silvia, or Stomping Tom, all favorite Canadian artists.

Snacks: They don’t leave home without them. On this most recent trip, they bring homemade snack mix (pretzel fish, sesame sticks, cashews, and peanut m&ms), granola, apples, peanuts, and a hunk of cheddar cheese. In Winnipeg, they wait patiently for a grocery to open at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning to do some shopping for their upcoming camp nights: corn, sausages, buns, mustard, peanut butter and beer. In Regina, Sioux Falls and Sioux City, they shop the local farmers’ markets and add to their cache. No worries, they will not go hungry. 


Picking out a campsite requires both of their attention. Because the sites on this trip are first-come, first-served, they cruise around the remote campgrounds, determining which sites are available for the taking. Is it private enough? Is it far enough from the pit toilet? Is it close enough? Does it have a path down to the lake or stream? Does it have a fire pit with a cooking grate? A level spot for their tent? Only after they circle the campground a couple of times do they settle on the most-perfect-available site. They stuff cash (usually $9) in the registration envelope and tear off the stub to display at the site. In a matter of minutes they set up their tiny tent, wedge two sleeping pads onto the floor, lay out their sleeping bags and add two king-sized pillows. Come dark, they snuggle into their bags, zip up the tent, and fall into remarkably sound sleep. 

It was only on the last camping day, just before dawn, that a storm moved across the mountain. Even from inside their zipped-up tent, she could see the lightning flashes and would automatically begin counting the seconds until the distant thunder rumbled. Five seconds; one mile away. Three seconds. Two seconds. Closer and closer it comes, until the sky lights up and a split second later, the thunder cracks loudly overhead. The rains come down with force, but tucked inside their nylon tent, protected by the rain flap, they stay safe and (relatively) dry, waiting for the storm to pass and morning to come. 

Later, as he boils water for their coffee, she crawls out of the tent and looks up into the woods. There, two dark bull moose move slowly through the woods just above their campsite. She thinks they are the same large beasts that they had observed across the creek the day before. Without a care in the world, the two moose amble just feet from the campsite, hesitate for a moment, then leap over the split-rail fence and wander down to the creek.


Note: *** denotes a not-to-be-misssed place

Eau Claire, WI

St. Cloud, MN

Fargo, ND

Winnipeg, Manitoba
   Clementine (breakfast)***
   The Pheasant Cookery (dinner)
   The Forks Market (and outdoor plaza)***

   TR McCoy’s (lunch)
   Lakehouse (espresso and chocolate chunk ice cream)***

Regina, Saskatchewan 
   Caraway Grille (Indian food)***
   Bodega Tapas Bar (dinner)
   Farmers’ Market (mead, honey, Saskatoon jam)

Moosejaw, Saskatchewan

Billings, MT
   MoAV coffee (breakfast)

   Dead Swede campground

Sheridan, WY
   Andi’s Coffee and Bakery (breakfast)

Spearfish, SD

Sioux Falls, SD
   Falls Park Farmers’ Market

Sioux City, IA

Omaha, NB
   Louie M’s Burger Lust (lunch)***

Independence, MO

Columbia, MO

New Harmony, IN

Owensboro, KY

New Albany, IN
   Hazel! ***!

Hazel, sporting her Hudson Bay Company Canadian tuque,
was awfully glad to see her Deed -- and vice versa!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Jack and Hazel

Jack came home last month for a visit. I know he wanted to see his Dad and me; but even more, I know he wanted to spend time with his niece Hazel.

In anticipation of his visit from Germany and in hopes that she would recognize him when he swooped her up, Jack wrote and recorded a song for Hazel. It appeared to do the trick. She was delighted when her Uncle Jack showed up, straight from the airport. Her nanny, Sarah, had been playing the song over and over again for her.

They hadn't seen each other since Christmas, but picked up right where they left off.

Their week was filled with giggles and adventures.

Jack is now back in Berlin. Hazel is plotting with her mom about how they can see Jack again soon. We all miss him terribly.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

That’s Amore

Sicilians build things like they will live forever and eat like they will die tomorrow. 
— Plato

For 16 days we wandered the narrow streets of Italy’s southern boot and the length and breath of Sicily, the island just off its toe. We strolled through ancient Greco-Roman ruins, watched sunsets over the sparking seas and vineyard vistas, explored hilltop towns, drank local wine, sought out Sicilian specialties from eggplant caponata to sweet ricotta-filled cannoli, to gelato served in a brioche bun.

For a full week we enjoyed being with Jack and Kasia, who brought with them lots of laughter and good companionship.

In my mind, the day-to-day details tend to run together, creating a pleasant, somewhat hazy memory of time spent immersed in a world of archeology, gastronomy and friendly people who talk rapidly all the while gesturing wildly with their hands. Just so I don’t forget, here’s our itinerary and some photos of our time together.


Hotel: Alberto Palazzo Decumani, charming hotel in the historic center
Best meals: Tiny grocery that served us grilled vegetables, spaghetti with seafood, and a creamy ricotta tart. (Sorry, don't remember the name of it.)
Pizzaria di Mattao, for traditional Neapolitan pizza
Dinner at Locanda ‘Ntretella, remembered it fondly from our first trip to Naples


Hotel: Aquatic Cave Luxury Hotel and Spa, rooms are actually in caves
Walking tour: Discovering Matera
Restaurants: Falco Grillaio, antipasti that went on and on (and was delicious)


Hotel: Rocco Della Sena
Santuario di Santa Maria dell’Isola di Tropea (and gardens), beautiful church perched on a sandstone rock
Restaurant: Porto Vaticana


Hotel: Condor
Sightseeing: Villa Comunale Di Taormina, beautiful public garden
Teatro Antico di Taormina, Greek theatre built in the third century BC

Siracusa (Ortygia)

Hotel: Charme Hotel Henry’s House, wonderful location in an 18th-century building
Restaurant: Al Mazarí, white tablecloth restaurant featuring typical Silician cuisine


Hotel:Agriturismo Baglio San Nicola
Sightseeing: Valley of Temples, a most impressive group of Greek monuments  
Favala: Farm Cultural Park, a place of art, culture, and urban regeneration


Hotel: Agriturismo Tarantola, idyllic setting, a real farm/vineyard with goats and chickens and a genial host.
Sightseeing: Selinunte Archeological Park, contains five temples centered on an acropolis
Erice, took a cable car up to the charming/historical town
Trapani, strolled through the town, in search of a gelato.
Temple of Segesta, known for its Doric architecture
Castellammare del Golfo, quaint fishing town known for its Norman Arabic castle, built on the sea.


Hotel: Quattro Incanti, converted floor with several basic rooms and nice breakfast terrace. Helpful host
Sightseeing: Orto Botanico, fabulous botanical garden

More photos

Devil's Bridge, Civita
Sunset in Ortygia
Market in Ortygia
Strolling in Ortygia
The BEST cannoli, Taormina

In the garden: Villa Comunale Di Taormina

Cefalù, seaside town where we stopped for a seafood lunch
Favara: Farm Cultural Park 
Ed and the Big Cactus, Orto Botanico (Palarmo)  
 Selinunte Archeological Park  
Alla prossima