Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Into the Fire

Last Thursday, after a night's rain, Adam decided it was time to burn up the four piles of brush in the pasture. He started early and by the time I went outside, one good pile remained. Adam and I sat nearby and played with Ned and watched the fire. Later Adam rolled the massive crape myrtle stump onto the glowing embers so it could keep drying out and burning up. Remember when he dug that up? We've been burning that stump since late November!

Adam told me the strangest thing -- he'd never seen anything like it before. The morning was quite damp and cool, and as he tended the fire before I arrived, two young grass snakes crawled out of the grass and straight into the fire. They didn't recoil when they met the heat. They longed for it, and he said they wriggled straight into the glowing coals. Looking for warmth and comfort, they slithered into the fire and burned themselves up.

I immediately thought of similar human behavior. The world is a cold, cruel place for many. They seek comfort in things that consume and destroy them. Alcohol? Drugs? Damaging relationships? Porn? Self-harming? How many of the things we turn to for comfort actually kill both body and soul? What a warning to us!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Badger Among the Wares

My Dear Toad,

I've tried to find race cars here, or painted caravans, or even a few fast horses, to write you about. To no avail, my friend! My time on the coastal plains of Sir Raleigh's colony is near its end, so I shall share instead my friendly hours at the local farmers' market. This may not excite your fancy, but it's the best I can do. Would it help to add that an air show is also occurring at a nearby military base? That's much too loud for me, but I hear the Blue Angels are performing. You'll have to use your imagination.
I nearly forgot! I did see some quite lovely boats. Do you fancy a boat, Toad? I wager you could do a bit of damage to a boat!
lovely catamaran
elegant river motoring boat
Here I am, with my kind hostess, Mary Kathryn. I've spent many hours resting in her quiet home before my flight over the Atlantic to return to the precious isle.
 Myself among the strawberries:
 Myself among the eggs:
 And nestled in with the pizzelles:
 Hiding among the tomatoes:
Badger among the yarn goods:
Badger among the soaps:

It was quite fun to meet all the market people and see the crowds streaming by as Oriental had its yearly town-wide yard sale. I liked the soaps best; they smell so fragrant.

Please tell Ratty and Mole I will be home soon and to have my slippers and fire ready. I need a long nap.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

What's Growin' on the Farm?

Blue Lake Beans at last!
Golden Wax Beans
Sweet Peas

 I think the above photo is spinach ...
And the below photo is kale. The labels faded and we are left wondering.
 Buttercrunch Lettuce
In the herb bed:
I have lovely basil.
 And mountains of oregano.
And two parsley types, dill, cilantro, sage, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, lovage, borage, hyssop, chamomile, and chervil. I'm expanding my herb choices. Adam eventually wants an herb bed devoted exclusively to tea herbs.
And I'm thrilled to say that our yard is abundant in plantain! I use it to make a healing salve for burns and skin abrasions. It's wonderful stuff, and now I have my own plantain at hand! I'm even growing my own plantain patch in the shade:

Plantain looks like this:
This is the narrow variety; there's also regular plantain that has wider leaves. The seed stalk looks like this:
Again, I think the regular variety looks different; its seed heads are longer.
Here's a photo of a nice, healthy plantain plant.
My dear sister-in-law Anne gave me several plants about a month ago, and they're doing so well! The yarrow is thriving.
And the hosta is quite large.
My artemisia is growing like mad and making a nice mound. The clumps below are over two feet across.
My other shade bed with lambs' ears, astilbes, and hostas is looking lovely.
This is all quite exciting because I've never had much of a green thumb. My mother is the gardener, and plants just seem to grow to make her happy. I gardened in Iowa, but anybody could grow anything in that soil. Not only the good response of the plants, but also my enjoyment in this hobby, is surprising to me. May it continue!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I'm Sure You Can Tell ...

... That I'm Busy. Sorry to have been gone so long!

My yellow rose bush is a joy. I feel as if the previous owners of this home have given me so many gifts in the beautiful thing they planted here, everything from the apple trees in the orchard to the daffodil bulbs in the ground.
(I can't get this video to load at all! Ugh.)
While in Oriental last week I videoed this Nonsuch sailboat coming into the town harbor while "Sunscapes" plays in my CD player. Such  a peaceful moment. I love the quiet grace of a sailboat in light wind.

Over the weekend our community choral group gave its spring concerts. I love singing under the direction of the lady we've had for a couple of years, but sadly she is leaving us. She put together such an amazing concert full of quite varied music. I got to accompany on two songs that were fast and rhythmic, and I enjoyed singing a raucous solo in a negro spiritual piece, "He Never Failed Me Yet."
My parents arrive for a brief visit this weekend. Julia's school year is winding down toward finals. Soon we travel west for Peter's college graduation! We skype regularly with Anna to see how she's doing in Japan. I can't wait to see Philip and Kara too, at Peter's graduation weekend. We're all staying at Ridgehaven, and that should be fun :) Life is busy ... and of course every day is chock full of farm work and working at the afterschool program, plus church responsibilities.
So ... if I'm not here, you'll know I'm not sitting with my feet up, watching a movie and eating bonbons!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cutting the Wireless Wires

Yesterday morning I put on farm clothes, gathered my trowel and work gloves, and headed to the greenhouse to put tomatoes into the garden bed.

And I almost picked up my cell phone too. Half the time I have no pocket (especially now that we're past jacket weather), and I must carry the thing in my hand.

But yesterday I decided to leave the phone in the house and give myself a break from the constant, low-grade demand of that gadget.

I consciously decided to throw myself back 30 years ago, to a time in my life that I didn't feel the need to have a phone on my person 24/7. Do you recall that feeling? The freedom? The calmness? The absence of urgency?

A cell phone is a kind of addiction -- even when it's not dinging or ringing, folks feel a compulsion to "check it" to make sure it didn't forget to ding or ring them with some urgent message ... like, "Here's a photo of a silly dog lol" from a friend they haven't seen in twenty years. Or perhaps their cell phone company notifying them of how many minutes they have left. You know, really important things that we allow to invade our private peace every minute of every day.

With a cell phone, you're never alone, and perhaps that's the point. We've forgotten how to relish being alone.

I'm planning to do this more often -- leave my cell phone in the house. If somebody calls, I can find out later. I have a right to personal, private peace. Time with my own head. Time when nobody can reach me unless it's so urgent they drive to my home and physically find me.

Why did we think wireless technology would free us? We are attached to the petty world of constant communication by the invisible wires of compulsion, of obligation, of addiction to the next message. I'm snipping those wires deliberately. If you need me, leave a message. I'll get back to you when I'm done in the greenhouse.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Mr. Badger Finds Hygge

My Dear Mole,
How I do miss our friendly chats and occasional visits. A calm friend is a true comfort, and such are you, Mole. I came on these travels to find if other creatures are slipper-wearing, tea-sipping, fireplace-gazing, afternoon-napping lovers of leisure as we are. And yes, in each home, I've found some good old-fashioned hygge.
My hostess is a yarn lady. I helped her with a little crocheting, a little tea, and some couch-sitting.
I'm not sure about those fox-like fuzzy socks she's wearing. They growled at me, and I growled back. She's reading about an Irishman! Mr. Lewis's gripping account of Trufflehunter and the other badgers of Narnia has long been one of my favorite winter reads.
She offered me popcorn, which I'd never tried before. It's crunchy and salty, but otherwise is inferior to a good old English breakfast.
My hostess tried to encourage her canine and me to become chums, but so far this has not occurred. He is a soft and nervous creature, and the only thing I can say in his favor is that he does seem to wear slippers on his paws. His fur protrudes over his claws in the most amusing manner.
Regarding the creature's paws, my hostess keeps alluding to someone named Dr. Seuss.
Mole, my dear fellow, I do not know what the next adventure will be. I often overheard talk about going to a place called Greenhouse. More news from the colonies will be forthcoming.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mr. Badger Writes Home

Dear Ratty,
At last I have arrived near the American ocean, and I begin to see my way back home to our fine island again. I admit that all this traveling wears on an animal, but I'm holding up rather well. All our friends have been such gentle hosts. Each time I arrive I find it so freeing to be removed from the yellow envelope and given tea.
Oh, Ratty! The first thing my hostess did this time was drive me to see the River! The River -- I knew you would want to see it straight away!
 So wide! So majestic!
My dear fellow, when I think of the many hours of delightful rowing you would enjoy here, it makes my heart yearn for you to come as well. When you visited the colonies last, this destination wasn't on your itinerary. How I wish it had been!
Today, dear Ratty, I'm spending the day recuperating from the exhaustion of traveling in the lumbering post office lorry across country. I'm snuggled in a blanket on a rainy day here on Red Robin Farm. I'll write again  soon.


If you'd like to read more about why Badger is traveling and whom he's visited, here are a few links:

Badger's travels originated from Pom Pom at PomPom's Ponderings, and you can read a bit about his visit there at this link to her blog.
And this link right here will take you to all the posts from Mags in Ireland describing Badger's visit there in the cold of winter. Mags and Pom together are orchestrating Badger's round-the-world tour.

In late 2011, Badger's friends, Ratty, Mole, and Toad visited us in the NC mountains on a similar tour. Read how we welcomed them and all the contents of their traveling package.
Read about when Ratty, Mole, and Toad  got a tour of Brevard, NC  and had adventures traveling in bank tubes and viewing a waterfall.