The End of My Lazy Summer

  • Note: There’s news coming! For the wonderful readers who have regularly, over the years since certain books came out, written me about them, I’ll have an announcement soon! But now, I have to turn in my “summer excuse.”

So as my last post–over a month ago–indicated, we had a rare summer for the Pacific Northwest. Lots of warm and sunny. Sometimes a bit too much warm for me. All I can say is heat pumps are the best invention ever. Well, after air conditioning in general, I suppose. Anyway, I never played hooky from school (what can I say, I was an angel–a terrified angel, but that’s another story) but I did from the blog. But it was 48 degrees this morning, the flag is whipping in 30mph winds, and I have steady rain. Yep, fall’s definitely here.

Spring is long over, according to my apple tree, which used to look like this:

apple blossoms 2012

And this little guy is bigger now…

fawn

…although mom is still close by, if a bit itchy.

itchy deer

And now summer is gone as well, along with some of the odder cloud formations, blue skies giving way to perpetual gray.

wedge cloud crop

The big question every year around here (well, at my house anyway) is will we be looking at this sometime soon?

Snow11 1-12

Most winters, when we get snow, it’s the perfect amount for me. Enough to say “Oh, snow, I can’t get up my driveway, guess I’ll build up the fire, fix a chai latte, curl up and read a book.” Or “Oh, gee, I guess I’d better finish knitting that sweater, I’m going to need it!” I love those days. But then, I’ve never lived anywhere that regularly gets snow several feet deep, which I’m sure colors my perception. They say it’s a “neutral” year so far, meaning no “El Nino” or “La Nina.” (apologies to the non-weather geeks/non-Pacific Ocean folks–they are Pacific Ocean conditions that greatly affect weather) Which would normally mean probably not this kind of snow. But then again, we had almost no snow last winter, and we very rarely have two back-to-back no or low snow years.

In other words, no clue. Yet, anyway. But my playing hooky is over, the blog is back, that news will be forthcoming, and lots of other things!

 

 

 

 

 

Summer?? How’d THAT happen?

Sun halo

What is that glowing orb up there???

Well, it’s official. Summer has arrived. For most, anyway. Summer doesn’t really arrive in the Pacific Northwest until July 5th, but that’s another story. But since the sun arrived the other day, complete with rainbow necklace, I guess I have to admit it.

Problem is, I’m not ready!! Our spring here is so darned non-committal that just about the time I think it might really be here, it’s summer, and I’m blinking, thinking, Wait, what? So here I am, having to say goodbye to spring when I barely had time to enjoy it. It’s a good thing I took pictures, so I can prove at least the plant life thought it was spring. So let me introduce you to some of my friends and family:

Callas

The Carnivorous Calla Lilies

These suckers are so big that after a rain bugs drown in them. If it’s a good bug, I’ve been known to try to rescue them. If it’s an earwig, it’s on its own. Ugh.

momma strawberry

The mother of all strawberries

This, my friends, is a plant to be revered. She is indeed, the mother of all strawberries. Purchased on a whim nearly ten years ago, this little plant has provided children that have filled every planter I have. So for $7.99 I got eleventy-two hundred plants. Think I’m kidding? Here:

IMG_0132

All in the family….

Every bit of green you see in this planter here, and the little pink flowers, are all kids from that momma strawberry. I could fill every square inch of my yard with this within a year. And yes, they really bear tiny strawberries. I have it on good authority, meaning the birds that always get to them before I do, that they’re very tasty.

Now this little oddity looks like it would be happier out in the Mojave Desert somewhere, yet it seems surprisingly happy here. I bought it simply for the anachronistic look of it. Because that’s the way I am.

poker plant

Took a wrong turn at Vegas…

And now we come to one of my favorites, the creature I fondly call “Cousin Itt.” (if you’re too young to remember the Addams Family, look him up) As usual, he needs a haircut, but for now he’s so…fluffy I’m happy to just walk around him.

cousin itt

Get away from me with those clippers!!

And finally, the most productive members of the family, or at least so I hope. There is only one place I can grow tomatoes well here, and that’s my front porch. It’s sheltered from the wind, and a good 5-10 degrees warmer than anyplace else around the house. So here they are, and here they shall stay, and if anyone is bothered by produce growing in their path to the front door, then they probably aren’t people I’d want to open the door to anyway.

IMG_0129

Whaddayoulookinat??

So there you have it, my sad tribute to a spring we barely experienced. You’ll noticed I ignored the grass. That’s because I’m the one who has to mow it, and I feel little affection for it at the moment. I’m probably the only person around anxiously awaiting its death by summer heat. (no, not DEAD dead, just done for the year.) Parking that lawnmower for a few months is one of the happiest moments of my year. But alas, not yet.

So how about you? Gardener, or brown thumb? Ornamentals or edibles? Try new things every year, or stick with the old reliables? Experiment to see what you can possibly grow in a container?

Refilling The Well

Canada Geese northbound

 

It’s spring, and a young bird’s fancy turns….

Okay, I finally believe it. Spring is really here. I mean, once I’ve seen the Canada Geese flying north in formation, I know it’s just me who hasn’t felt it. I trust their internal clocks more than mine, because their time doesn’t get messed with, they don’t deal with things like daylight savings time and other man-made idiocies that keep us thinking we’re somehow in control of nature. (can you tell I’m not a fan? Grump, snarl…)

But I digress.

I’ve introduced my neighbors before. But in case you missed it, here they are, sharing a quiet moment in a nearby tree.

eagle pair

One of the great joys of living in the Northwest is seeing these magnificent creatures on a regular basis. This time of year, almost daily. One of the first bird calls¬† I learned when we moved here years ago was theirs; it’s unmistakable once you’ve heard it. (I was given a small, stuffed bald eagle as a gift once, the type you squeeze and get the bird’s call. They got it exactly right.)

Everyone, writer or not, I think finds themselves now and then in a place where they just can’t keep going. Where they’re beaten down, too weary to go on. Where they’ve gone to the well once too often, and this time come up dry. Times like this, you need to know what refills your well, and then make a conscious effort to do it. For some it’s reading for hours. For others it’s getting outdoors, walking or hiking. For some it’s traveling.

For some, like me,¬† it’s doing something with your hands, creating something entirely different. Knitting, for me, takes up an entirely different set of brain cells, and lets the writing part of the brain rest and refill. And when I can combine it with sitting outdoors and waiting for my neighbors to come by, it’s even better.

Since I’m between books at the moment, I’ve had time to enjoy the show that truly means spring around here. My neighbors are celebrating the arrival in the way only they can. By flying, soaring, together.

eagle pair flight

And this year, for only the second time since I’ve lived here, I had the soul-stirring joy of watching an eagle courtship flight. Something impossible to describe, impossible even to really show in pictures, but once you’ve seen it in person, you will never, ever forget it. These two glorious, powerful birds soar skyward. They turn. Lock talons. And fall. Fall in a turning, twisting tumble that is breathtaking. Locked together they plummet, cartwheeling, trusting their instincts and their own strength to save them when at last they break apart, only to soar upward and do it all again.

Courtship. Of the most heart-racing kind. A little bit dangerous. Requiring complete trust. But worth it, in the end. And if you didn’t already know, bald eagles mate for life.

That’s why they refill my well, in a way few things can.

 

eagle dance crop