Spring Prep for the Garden

May 28, 2011

This is my 4th column for the Zenith, the un-edited version.

 

 

Looking out the window you might not feel in the gardening spirit.  These drab, dreary, rainy days are not exactly inspiring.  And it’s not very fun working outside when it’s cold and the wind is in your face.

But, now is actually a great time to work your soil.  All this rain makes it easy to pull grass and weeds.  I’ve had my garden for about 14 years now, and I am amazed at how even though every spring I work very hard to clean out my beds, by the next spring I am inundated with grass again.  Why can I grow grass in my flower beds and not in the parts of my lawn that need it? Ah, yes, the ultimate conundrum.

 

So this weekend I plan to don my warm clothes, and rain jacket, get the tools out, and get my butt out there to get things started.  After all, in a few short weeks it will be time to plant and I want to be ready.

 

When pulling weeds and grass you must be sure to get the root.  If you leave it in there expect a whole new crop within a couple weeks.  The easiest way to do this is to get a pitchfork, a hoe or my favorite, the twist-action Garden Claw.  This tool is a must-have for me. You can use it while standing, it’s sharp, and the torque action you get when you twist it really loosens up the soil making it very easy to pull the grass and the roots. Not to mention, it gives you a nice little ab workout.

If your soil is really compacted, or you are starting a new bed, you might have to get a bit more extreme and use a tiller.  After many years of back breaking weed pulling, my husband suprised me bought me a tiller.  What’s even better is that he tills for me.

 

We work as a team, I point out the areas I want tilled, being careful not to disturb the perennials, and he works that area pretty deeply.  As he loosens up the grasses I pull them out.  We can get the beds cleaned out in just a couple hours.  We have about 400 square feet of flower beds so this is a great time saver.

 

Once you get the unwanted growth out of your beds, I highly recommend you do a few things.  Firstly take this time to amend your soil. You need rich, loamy soil for good growth.  And to get that you’ll need a few key components.

 

Compost, Peat, Vermiculite and Black dirt.

 

Compost is a natural fertilizer.  Adding it alone to your soil will give it much needed nutrients.  If your soil has a lot of clay add some peat moss as well, it really helps keep the soil from compacting.  Another great additive is vermiculite, it will help airate the soil. And lastly, black dirt, your base.

 

All of these additives together will give you a solid foundation for good growth.  Once you have a good base add an application of long acting fertilizer and an application of Preen (a weed inhibitor).  Preen will help keep the weeds at bay, but it’s not going to stop them from growing, your best defense is consisitency.  If you can, spend a half hour after work each night and pull some weeds.  It’s a great way to leave the work day behind and get some fresh air and exercise.  And yes, gardening counts as exercise.

After you apply your weed preventer, and get the dead leaves and debris out of your garden, apply a good thick layer of mulch.  Now you may want to delay this step until after you have moved or placed any new plants.  Because once the mulch is down the rest of the summer is just maintenence.

 

Mulch is probably your best defense against weeds.  I’ve tried several mulches from Cocoa Bean Hulls to Rubber Mulch to free Composted Wood Chips to bagged Cedar Mulch.  What I’ve found is that Cocoa mulch, although it smells really good and looks great, it doesn’t last the season.  It’s good because it breaks down easily and you can work it back into the soil, ultimately airating it, but if you have low-lying areas that gather water, it can get moldy.

 

Rubberized mulch has been popular in some commercial areas.  It’s cool because it comes in some vibrant colors, looks like shredded cedar, and is suposed to last forever, but I found two issues with it.  One, it floats.  So if you get a lot of rain and your planting area is not level, it can sort of float away and create a mess.  Secondly, it does not decompose.  So this type of mulch is best used for walk paths or rock gardens on level ground.

 

Composted mulch is a great money saver.  We are regular contributors to our local composting center and when you give, you can also receive.  We used composted wood chips to fill areas where we have lots of trees and shrubs.  It may be hard to take advantage of the free mulch if you don’t have a good way to haul it.  It’s sharp so it tends to break bags easily and if you don’t have a truck or trailer, you could be making lots of trips to the compost center.  The other issue we had is that it is not sterilized.  So along with your mulch you can get lots of seeds.  We have sprouted numerous unknown tree types by using this mulch.  If you have a large area and are ok with that, go for it.

 

Lastly, bagged Cedar mulch.  I have to admit this is my favorite.  It might not be the most eco-friendly option, but it does seem to work the best for our needs.  Cedar mulch comes in several colors, but in my opinion the dyed mulches can look really un-natural.  I just go for the plain old red cedar mulch.  It’s cheap, you can catch a good sale this time of year and get 5 bags for $10.  And considering I need a minimum of 10-12 bags for my perennial beds alone, it makes it affordable. Plus, the bags are something I can personally lift and work with.

 

With any type of mulch you’ll need to put down a good 3” deep layer to keep the weeds at bay.  Mulch also helps the soil retain moisture when the heat of summer persists.  Not to mention it makes your garden look clean and neat.

 

If you prep your garden early in the season, the rest of the summer all you need to do is water, weed, deadhead and Enjoy!

 

 

 

 


Planning for Spring

May 24, 2011

This my my 3rd column for the Zenith, I guess I should have posted this two months ago when it ran.

I am so ready for spring.  But with this much snow on the ground I’m wondering just how long it is going to be before I can actually get out there and work the soil.

 

Last year March came and went like a lamb and April was a nice slow and steady warm up. By mid April I was ready to get out there and get my hands dirty.  This spring, we may not be so lucky.

 

The general rule of thumb is that the soil must be dry enough to fall apart when you clump it in your hand.  If you have a big mud ball going on–wait.  Oh, it’s safe to pull out some dead weeds or even new weeds and grasses, but don’t even think about working your perennials.  They are still utilizing all that water to prepare themselves for the new season, and most of them don’t like to be disturbed or even uncovered when there is still a chance of frost, so let the sun come out and warm up your plants and the soil for a few weeks before you start.

 

So what can an anxious gardener do this time of year?

 

If you haven’t started them yet, go ahead and get your indoor starter plants going.  But please keep in mind that the most important step in starting your plants indoors, is timing.  You want to make sure you time the germination of your seedlings right so that by the time they are ready to transplant into the ground, the ground temp will be warm enough to sustain them.  If you start too early you may end up with a leggy, tangled mess. So pay special attention as to which crops can go in colder soil, like broccoli or cabbage and which ones need the soil warm, like tomatoes and annuals, and adjust your planting times accordingly. Colder crops can handle a frost. With warm soil crops it is best to wait until the soil reaches about 65-70 degrees.  But remember, you have to harden off your new plants before they can go in the ground.  It could be June before you can do that, so have patience and watch your growing times for each variety.

 

 

Some of you may already have the supplies you need to get your seedlings growing, but some of you may be starting from scratch, so let me address the things you will need.

 

Firstly, space.  You are going to need a dedicated space to grow your seedlings.  A sturdy shelf works great.  But maybe more importantly, you are going to need lights.  Industrial-type florescent tube lighting is ideal for growing indoors.  These are going to need to be hung over the seed trays on an adjustable chain so that you can raise the lights as the seedlings grow taller. Then you are going to need seed trays, look for the types that have bottom-watering capability, they seem to yeild the best results.  You can find many that already come loaded with a decent loamy soil.  And of course you are going to need seeds. I like to focus on annuals as they can be quite costly to buy in mass as starter plants. And lastly you will need dedication.  Because you are going to have to water those seeds daily, give them alot of light, and make adjustments to the height of the lights as they grow.

 

I’ve had both good and bad luck starting indoors. The years that I really paid attention and made sure they were checked every day, the seedlings did pretty well.  The years I had a busy schedule and didn’t get to my plants daily, well you can guess what happened.

 

For a first-timer, do your research before you start. Know the up-front costs involved, as well as, the light, time and water requirements for your particular seeds.  This can be a fun project to get the whole family involved. Everyone can help in taking care of the seedlings.  And who knows, growing your own vegetables may just be the way you can finally get your kids to eat them.

 

 

If starting seeds seems a bit to much for some, you can take this time of year to plan your garden beds instead.  If you are starting a new bed, think of a snow-filled yard as a blank canvas.  Grab a stick, put on your boots and go play in the yard.  Draw out your garden borders in the snow.  How do you like the size, and location?  Will it get enough sun?  How does it fit in with the rest of the landscape?  What is the natural flow of traffic in that spot?  If the kids are used to running through the yard there, maybe it would be better suited off to the side where it won’t be mistakenly trampled.  It’s a fun way to visualize your project.

 

What else can you do this time of year?

 

This is a perfect time to go through your existing supplies, toss broken tools and expired chemicals. Or clean up your tools, organize them and clean out last year’s pots.  Make a list of what you need, and take advantage of early sales to get things like edging, soil amendments, mulch, fertilizer, start up juice, tools…buy these items a few at a time so you don’t break the bank all at once.

 

Now I might be alone here, but I have actually drawn a scale “floor-plan” of my yard. It’s proven to be a very helpful tool.  Because in March, when I’m gazing out my window, it’s hard to tell where all my borders are under a foot or two of snow.  Having a “land-plan” gives me a guideline to work from.  It shows me where I have available area to workand gives me an overall birdseye view of my lot.  I also keep a list of plants and a general layout of where I’ve planted them so I’m able to plan my next addition sitting at my dining table.

 

You can also take some time to do a little research on some of the new plants and hybrids on the market now. There have been great strides made in perennials.  Many are proliferous bloomers, low maintenence and disease resistant.  You will find many new varieties of roses, shrub roses and hydrangeas as well as cone flowers and day lillies.  Why just those few plants alone could have you in bloom all season long.

 

Think Spring!

 


Life is like a garden…

May 22, 2011

After a crazy, long, emotional winter spring finally comes. With it comes hope and energy, change and new growth. But right along with the good things comes pain and the loss of what can no longer endure.

My spirit is lifted with each new sunny day.  Each accomplishment and bit of success drives me toward goals and better things to come.  The sun warms the earth and welcomes the emergence of life. Yet I must also weather the storms and set-backs of my family. I must pluck the weeds of self-doubt and sadness and persevere even when I want to hide underground to protect myself.

When a flower outgrows itself it will not bloom. It will lay down and try to grow from within.  In order to revive it you must split it and replant it, giving it room to grow. I’m trying to grow, and there are days when I know I need to divide myself into many shoots.  One for school, one for career, one for physical health, one for family strength.  Yet all the while keeping my roots in tact to hold down my marriage and relationships.

The rain of life has been pounding so hard for so long it seems.  Never a respit, for another storm lurks just beyond.

For several weeks my garden has looked sad, ratty and unorganized. Much like my life and my spirit has been. But today some flowers bloomed, first of the spring.  And somehow the ratty mess I was not looking forward to tending, now looks pretty again.

It’s reaching for the sun…much like me.

 

 


Plan-Prepare-Purchase

January 29, 2011

Here it is, my second column for the Zenith – the un-edited version.

Here we sit, buried in snow, temps dipping below zero and the last thing on your mind is probably your garden.

But this is prime-time for garden planning.  I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent curled up with my 10 lb. “Encyclopedia of Gardening” during winter time.  Some how it soothes the soul to look at photos of perennials in bloom.  To see green grass, colorful blooms and blue sky, it’s quite uplifting.  And in the doldrums of winter, often times my gardening books are what get me through till spring.

I like to think of planning your garden or landscape as a process, not so much a one-time occasion. Each year we have built a new bed or added on to an existing bed; expanding and problem solving as we go. For what may have started as a flat, rectangle plot of land now has trees and shrubs, hardscape and habitat.

I have gone out to the garden center with much anticipation.  Blooming shrubs and flowers tend call my name, and consequently, I’ve been known to over-buy now and again. If you are just starting out or wanting to re-vamp your landscape I have some vital tips to help make the project go smoothly.

Firstly, have patience.
Things will inevitably take much longer than you anticipated.

Secondly, be aware of budget.
Gardening is not a cheap hobby.  Annuals will cost the most yearly, perennials are more cost up-front and a good tree can cost hundreds, not to mention the cost of edging and planting materials. So know how much the project is going to cost you before you begin.

Thirdly, only buy what you know you can get planted in that weekend.

Many times I have purchased shrubs and flowers with full intention of getting them in the ground that weekend, and more often than not, they have sat there, baking in the sun, drying out and yes, even dying. So that bargain shrub was not such a bargain after all.  Which why I stress, only buy what you can get planted that day or the next day.

Part of the reason they don’t get planted is because I haven’t planned.  Before you buy ask yourself, “Do I have a place ready to put this plant?”  “Is there a bed ready?” Is there something that needs to be moved or divided first?”  Before you get all excited and start purchasing, PLAN, PREPARE, then PURCHASE.

PLANNING
Part of planning a bed or landscape has much to do with visualizing.  That 6ft willow tree is small now, but in a mere five years that willow can be 30” in diameter with branches that can consume an entire yard. “Do you have the space?”  “What is the overall concept of your landscape?”  “What is the space going to be used for?” Whether you want to create a purely visual flowerbed, a space for entertaining and activities or more practical things like a windbreak you need to plan this in advance.  It will save you money over time.

PREPARE
Once you’ve decided on a location, size and purpose for your garden,  you’ll need to prepare the area.  Usually we start with the perimeter.  Either by using a hose or spray paint we mark the size and shape of the bed we want to create. Then we dig a trench around the border so we can put in our edging.  Once the edging is in place you can backfill for stability.

Then comes soil preparation.  My yard for example, is mostly clay.  So to get the soil in top planting condition I need to amend it with a mix peat moss, compost, sand and black soil.  It’s best to dig out the existing soil and layer in the additives so you get a nice loamy mix.  I haven’t always done this, but the things that grow best are in the areas that we took the extra time to prepare.  Don’t forget to think about drainage.  If at all possible add a thin layer of rock at the bottom of your planting area. It can make all the difference in the world between success and failure.  Adding 4-6 inches of river rock at the bottom of your bed (2-3 feet deep) will create a drainage field and allow moisture to both collect and drain.  This step is essential for flower or vegetable gardens. That way your plants won’t drown in a heavy rain and in times of drought some moisture will be retained down under to feed them.

When planting around your house pay special attention to the foundation and gutters.  If you do not create a slope around your house you can potentially cause a lot of damage.  Talk to professionals before you start digging around your house.    If you are unsure of your soil type take a soil sample and send it off to the University for testing.  For a nominal fee they will give you a breakdown of what your soil is and how to amend it for planting.

The Planning and Preparing phase can take weeks, especially if you are a weekend gardener like me.  So that is why I suggest waiting to purchase until you are ready to actually plant.

PURCHASE

This is the fun part.  During your planning phase you should have figured out the purpose of your bed and a general layout of plants.  It’s most visually appealing when you have a variety of plants, but not necessarily have every plant different.  Think in groups of 2-3 or 5 (depending on space) of the same variety, plant them in masses.  Mix in some deciduous along with some evergreen.  Make sure you have something flowering in each phase of the season – spring, summer, fall (but don’t forget about winter interest either) as well as varying heights.  Think texture, fragrance and bloom color too.  Be sure to allow space if the plants are spreaders (like yarrow) and know the zone and soil, light and water needs for each variety.

OK, I know this seems like a lot to think about but really once you’ve spent some time learning about the possibilities and habits of your plants, maintaining your garden is really just a labor of love. Stay tuned for further more in-depth articles for each of these phases.


Winter Interest

January 19, 2011

Two years ago I set out to make some changes.  I decided I wanted to write a column.  I didn’t have a solid idea as to what I wanted to write, as you may have noticed I have a lot of different interests.  But nonetheless, I took steps to make it happen.

My first column went to press just before Christmas 2010.  It’s not in a big newspaper, certainly not a household name, but it’s a start.

I’m grateful that someone was willing to take a chance on me. To give me an opportunity for a by-line, to give me a chance to learn the lingo, and the processes of the business.

It feels really good.

I finally realized a goal.

For many years I felt like I was just spinning my wheels.  I finally got some traction.

So here it is, my first official printed column.  This is my un-edited version.  There is a link on the right side of my page to the Zenity Weekly.  It is a kicky little paper headquartered in Duluth, MN.  It’s off-beat and a fun read.

I am now officially,  “The Accidental Gardener”, in-print and on-line.

Winter Interest

As much as I enjoy spring, more specifically, late spring when I can finally get to the garden center and pick out the early bloomers to adorn the front of my house; I love my winter planters for much the same reason.

As the pansies and mums poop out after a good hard freeze or two, I’m usually left with a half a dozen dead planters and window boxes.  Being that winter feels like it lasts so much longer then summer, I have to do something about these unsightly pots, specifically the window boxes. There’s nothing worse for a gardener then staring at a bunch of empty planers (or dead flowers) all winter. And if your window boxes are anything like mine, they have discolored the house behind them, so it’s not like you can take them down for the season.

I say decorate them!

Since pine is one of the few green things in the winter, it is an obvious choice for the planters.  Your local garden center or home improvement store, perhaps even the Boy Scouts, will usually start to stock Spruce tops in early November.  Here’s what you need for some spectacular containers…

-Spruce tops – they typically come in a bundle of approximately 10 tops per. One bundle is plenty to do a couple of 12” pots or 30” window planters. Cost is roughly $20/bundle.

Now spruce tops alone are ok, but a bit boring.  So we need to add other natural materials to add visual interest. Some of my favorite materials include, White Pine Boughs, Boxwood, Dogwood Branches, Rose Hips, Chinese Lanterns, Holly, Eucalyptus, Winterberry Branches, Corkscrew Willow, most anything really. You may be able to find many of these items in your very own yard, and a little winter trim doesn’t hurt your bushes a bit.  If you don’t have any of these in your yard, you might want to add these to your landscape.  They’ll do double-duty for you all year long.

Before you start filling your containers, first you must prep your pots.  Keeping the dirt from the summer’s plants is just fine, but pull out the dead stuff and try to get most of the roots out if you can.  Once you get your soil cleaned out, you can add a little more dirt if need be.

Here’s an important tip:

Don’t wait until the pots have frozen, plan ahead, get out there before it gets consistently cold.  That way your soil is loose and you can get your greens deep enough into the soil.  If the soil is already frozen bring your pots indoors for a few days and the dirt will thaw enough to work with.

Start by adding your spruce tips.  Usually you get a variety of sizes of branches in your bundle. Some are longer and more well formed like a tree top, some might have a curve to them or be a little bare on one side or the other, so you may need to work with the natural growth pattern of the branches.

In a round or square pot, use one of the more perfectly formed branches as your center. Add about 3-5 smaller branches around it.  Use ones that arch to the left on the left of center and vice-versa.  Hide any barren sides toward center, but first trim off any areas that may be dead.   Do yourself a favor and wear some tough gardening gloves, the kind with the rubber palms or even leather.  It’s inevitable, you’re going to get stuck with the pine. Once you have your branches in place, water them in.  Give them a good long drink.  And continue to water them at least once a week until the soil freezes.  Once frozen, the branches will stay green usually until at least March.

Now is the fun part.  I like to change up my pots a little for the holidays so I may add some fall leaves, Chinese Lanterns, gourds or small pumpkins to my pots for Thanksgiving and then remove these and add berry stems, holly, ribbons or even ornaments for Christmas.

I do not recommend using a natural fall leaf in your pots.  Once they die they will crumble and fall apart, so I cheat a little and use a silk fall leaf from a craft store.  You can pick up a few stems with multiple leaves for under a few dollars.  I add these at the very top of the soil, being careful not to go in too deep.  One year, during a particularly rainy, then cold fall, the soil froze solid and I had fall leaves until January when we got a quick thaw.  Maybe you’re ok with that, but it bugged me to death, so now I pay a bit more attention to the depth.

Add a couple leaf branches in between the spruce tips.  Three is plenty. Now add some twigs.  Red dogwood is a personal favorite of mine.  Cut several branches about 6-10” longer then the spruce and some a little shorter. Fill in the empty areaswith at least 3 if not 5 branches. You want them to arch outward.

Be free to experiment and play. Adding at least 3-5 different elements will create a lot of visual interest.  I also love to add eucalyptus for the fragrance and berry branches for color.  Winterberries are a favorite for the birds.  By adding these, you help keep food available for our feathered friends and it’s fun to have the birds visit.  What I learned in the past, and wholeheartedly recommend, is DO NOT use fake berry branches.  Firstly, they are harmful to the birds.  And the birds will think they are food. Secondly, during the winter they tend to fall apart and you may end up with a bunch of ratty looking styrofoam balls in your planters, frozen solid, so your stuck with them until a thaw.

You can add holiday decorations in December and then remove them in January to keep a cleaner look to your planters until spring.  Take advantage of any January thaws to freshen up your planters with a fresh batch of white pine or more berries to carry you through to spring.

You’ll be amazed how creating interesting winter containers keeps a fresh look to an otherwise dreary winter season.


Out of the ash comes new growth…

October 25, 2010

Two years ago I decided to make some changes to my life.  I’d been in a major rut and was really hating what I did for a living.  After getting notice that I was going to be receiving a major pay cut along with my hours at work being slashed I went into panic mode.
 
It was in that state of panic that I decided I needed to follow my heart and do something that I love.  The idea of being a Columnist hit home.  So I set out to try to make some changes in my world, all the while the idea of writing circulating in my head. 

I started a blog, which gave me practice and held me accountable.  I took several writing classes.  I sent out letters and examples of my work to a dozen or so small publications.   I knew it was a long shot.  But I kept at it.  Last winter I gave my blog a big re-vamp, and as of this fall, I went back to night school to get a certification in graphic design.  
 
Today I feel like a different person then I was two years ago.  For a person who has struggled with the reality of having to work at a job that I don’t love, all the while wanting to follow my heart and do something that I do love, this was a great conundrum. 

Every writer that I’ve talked to in the last two years has pointed out that they write for the love of writing, not for the pay.  Dreams can come at a price.

Today I was given the opportunity to write a Column for a small publication.

I have realized a dream that I’ve had for quite some time.   I have been given a chance to write about something I love…professionally.  I will get exposure and a by-line.  Today is a great day. 

Out of my ashes of despair I have grown.


Have You Ever Seen a Moonset?

October 23, 2010

“Have you ever seen a Moonset?”
My husband whispered
quietly in my ear.

“What’s that”, I asked as I opened my eyes and reached
to draw him near.

“It’s something special we should share,
come watch with me my love.

You’ll see the darkness fade away and the heavens rise above.”

The moon was full, white as snow, and sat low in the western skies.

It gently dipped beyond the trees as the sun was on the rise.
It was as if the world awakened; the birds and insects filled with song.
The sky was scarlet and oh so bright, the quiet moon now had gone.
Now and then when the moon is full, I wake early hoping to see—
The fading moon and glorious sunrise the Moonset once brought to me.

Original Poem CCH 2001

The Lazy Gardner

September 20, 2010

Ohh, I have been a bad gardener this year. I have pretty much abandoned my beds since June. Admittedly from the view out my kitchen window the garden looks pretty nice. But on a rare stroll through it one day I noticed a few weeds that had hit the 4 ft mark. Maybe a non-gardener would not realize that they were weeds, they were flowering after all, but I had a big pang of guilt knowing full well I hadn’t weeded or dead-headed all summer long.

I have four words that sum up my feeling toward my garden this year, “thank God for perennials”.
My garden is pretty much on auto pilot. Yes, I did spend quite a bit of time preparing it early in the season, April and May are very busy months. But once the heat and humidity hit this summer, I pretty much checked out.

My husband, bless his soul, has been the caretaker, making sure the beds and flower pots get watered most days of the week, Mother Nature took care of the rest with our particularly rainy summer.

I don’t know why, but I just wasn’t into it this year. Between the relentless heat and miserable humidity that brought on a bumper crop of mosquitoes, I just had no desire to play in the dirt. That is the first time I’ve felt that in my thirteen years tending my garden. And honestly, I’m not feeling very guilty about it at all. Most often it gives me quite a feeling of pride and joy to look out and admire the beauty of nature that I have corralled. But not this year, even my flower pots have weeds and I really don’t care.

This year I think I’ve just been so busy working toward a new career that I’ve subconsciously checked my gardening off the To Do list. That’s ok isn’t it? Aren’t we allowed to focus our efforts toward a new goal now and again? I fully admit I’m no Superwoman. I can’t get it all done.

As much as I would like to think I can, I know full well that there are going to be days that I am going to consciously be lazy and not care what isn’t getting done. There are going to be days when I say, “damn the chores, let’s go have fun.”

And you know what, I’m giving myself permission.


Unplugged

September 14, 2010

Today was one of those perfect fall days.  The sun was warm, the breeze was cool, the sky was clear, and as blue as I’ve ever seen it.

Today was the perfect day for a walk.

I got out around 11:00 am.  I thought it might be fun to take some pictures along the trail, so I brought my camera.  I grabbed my phone, a bottle of water and away I went.

To my amazement, no one was outside.  As I walked through the neighborhood I was expecting to see people out working around the house, kids playing in the yard, pets soaking up the sun…but no one was out.  It was almost spooky.

I was delighting in the fact that I had the neighborhood all to myself.  That instead of mowers and power tools disturbing my peace I was soothed by chirping and buzzing.

But then I got to thinking, “where ARE all the kids?”  I kept flashing back to when I was young, my Mom would have kicked me out early told me to go get some fresh air, and find something to do. If I complained she would have found chores to keep me busy, so of course I would go, grab my bike and find someone to hang with.

Are the kids so plugged in now that on what is probably one of the last and most perfect days of summer they would rather watch TV, surf the net or play video games? I felt kind of sad about that.

But then again, I had a beautiful walk. Perhaps with everyone else so plugged in, peaceful quiet walks are there for the taking.


Splish-Splash

June 23, 2010

As I’m working the soil this morning, I focus on the sounds of the pond.  The birds are singing, the toads are croaking and then I hear the splash.  We have a variety of visitors here, From Egrets to Wood Ducks, Cormorants and Herons. 

But this splash was different.

It was a constant, “splish-splash, splish-spash”, every couple minutes.  And it was close.

As I make my way to the murky waters edge I can see movement. Ripples- air bubbles popping under the layer of green algae.  We don’t get many fish in our pond, at least we don’t see many fish, so I was intrigued.

I finally got a visual on the fish stealing my thoughts away.  He was big, at least 8 or 9 inches, kind of a taupe color, and active.  He was jumping up, catching air and making a quite loud splash as he twisted and flipped his tail and went back down.

In all my years on the pond, I’ve never seen this.  As I looked up, I noticed other splashes, seemingly simultaneously dancing around the waters edge.  It was almost as if there were some sort of syncrinized spawning activity going on underneath the perimeter of the pond.

I had to smile…just another day in the life of the pond I guess.


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  • All my life I've waited for things to be right in the universe before I could really start living my life. If only I had the perfect job, the perfect home, was the perfect weight or had the perfect partner... then my life could begin.

    What I've realized now is that these challenges I faced were not obstacles holding me back, they were the steps in the journey that is my LIFE.

    Life has it's ups and downs, heartaches and joys. We need to appreciate each day, and do our best with what we have been given.

    It's not the destination, it's the Journey.

  • Chains of Harmony


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