Category Archives: my garden

A boy and his loves.

Liam was with me for a couple of days last week. He is almost six and suddenly reads with astonishing fluency. Reading is downright fun for him, I guess that’s why, and the more you do something you love, the better you get at it. I was pleased to realize that he would be just the person at just the stage to appreciate The Disappearing Alphabet by Richard Wilbur, so I searched through my bookshelves to find it. We read it together with many giggles.

The artwork, by David Diaz, is much more pleasing to me than that in The Pig in the Spigot, another of Wilbur’s books for children which I wrote about here once. Each page is devoted to a letter of the alphabet, with a short verse musing on what would happen to our beloved world if that letter were no more.

After reading the book, then eating dinner, we went on one of my creek walk loops. Immediately we began to practice our mutual love of plants and their names. My grandson is starting to understand that I don’t know every plant, and our nature study is more of a joint effort now, with him not saying, “What is this?” so much, and saying, “Grandma, look!” more.

But he brought up the subject of the alphabet also, as we walked along, saying, out of the blue, “If there were no letter N, we wouldn’t have pain! or lanes! — or extensions!”

Our walk took longer than I planned, because I had forgotten about how it’s our habit to meander and pick things, as I had started out with Liam in Flowery Town years ago.

FT P1090307

We ate quite a few new-green wild fennel fronds on this walk, and even some slightly older ones, comparing the flavor. And several times he reminded me that we must take the route home that passes by the pineapple guava hedge, because he was eager to taste the flowers I’d mentioned.

We ate flower petals, and got to bed late, and the next morning the boy picked more right next to my garden dining spot, which he added to our breakfast feast. Rarely is it truly the right weather to eat breakfast outdoors here in my city, and this may have been my first time to do it with company so agreeable.

The middle of this second day was spent at my church, where the end of the children’s week-long summer program featured a long session of water play, and Liam was delighted to get all wet and to eat a popsicle.

Even here, he drew my attention to a tree blooming right above, which I’m sure I’d never noticed before. Our rector said he planted it himself “way back.”

Australian Silver Oak or silky oak, Grevillea robusta

While children were settling down for the Bible lesson that morning, another boy showed me this fly that he was admiring on his hand. I think Liam was already waiting patiently on the other side of the circle so he didn’t see it.

Later that afternoon I had planned to have him help me clean the greenhouse, but then realized he’d like better to pick sweet peas to take home to his mother. I have only a little patch that I didn’t pull out yet. He was diligent about that task for nearly an hour, and collected a large jarful. I made headway on the greenhouse, and we took breaks to study the bumblebees that only recently decided to mob those flowers.

One day we had read Monarch and Milkweed, and the other, I showed him my milkweed plants; the Showy Milkweed is in a jungle behind the fig tree, where I hope, if Monarch caterpillars hatch out, the birds might not notice them…?

Liam helped me to see my flowers without a magnifying glass. As we were looking at some tiny succulent flowers, and I was trying to get a good picture of them, I began to notice little black dots on them. “Are those holes in the petals, can you see?” I asked him. He squatted down and looked hard, and told me that they were things on the ends of hairs coming out of the middle of the flower. Ah, stamens! When I enlarged the photo, I could see, too:

We washed rocks! Liam had been examining and organizing one of my collections of pebbles and cones and such in the house, and out here I had him put these larger stones from the Sierras and from the Sacramento River through some sudsy water and a rinse, so they could wait presentably until I find a use for them.

What other things did we both like to do while he was visiting? Eat ice cream cones, and judge matchbox car races, and read Winnie-the-Pooh. Many times during his last hours with me, lines from Pooh or The Disappearing Alphabet would come to his mind and he would say them again, looking at me with a twinkle in his eye, knowing I liked them, too. He especially liked these from the page about the letter L:

“Any self-respecting duck
would rather be extinct
than be an uck.”

I was so grateful to Liam’s parents for making this intimate visit work out. Next time I see him, he will be more grown up, and a different boy. But probably not all that different. I hope we can always find a way to share our love for words and plants and many more details and gifts of this vast world in which our loving Father has placed the two of us as grandma and grandson.

Recipe with bees and thyme.

One recipe for a Satisfying Day just fell together starting as soon as I woke up yesterday.
It included:

*Waking up early enough to take a walk before church.

*Picking pineapple guava petals from a hedge down the block
and sharing them with a neighbor who was also out walking.
My cousin Anne told me that you can eat them,
and they truly are as sweet as candy.

*Not putting off drudgery such as stretches and floor exercises.

*Managing to stand through most of church (this was easier after having walked, etc.)
and receiving Holy Communion, on the Sunday of All Saints of America.

*Wowing over the catalpa tree at church. Each flower is like an orchid…

*Shopping for garden twine at the nursery across the road from church
and finding seeds as well 🙂


*Talking to my dear cousin Renée  on the phone
while sitting in the garden with the sun on my back.

*Taking pictures of bees on the thyme while talking.

*Sorting through pictures of bees I took before and finding some good ones.

bee on echium
bee on privet

*Eating vegetables.

*Taking more pictures of bees on the echium.

*Sorting through more pictures.

“Friendliest Weed” in my garden is blooming prettily.

*Taking an evening walk beside the creek and studying the mystery grass again.

*Identifying a plant in the creek: It’s buckeye! I know buckeye, but only as a tree; I wasn’t used to seeing leggier growth in the creek. This picture shows some of the lighter green leaves of buckeye in the creek, a mature tree above, and even some mystery grass in the middle. I don’t think it’s Timothy grass, which one of my commenters suggested, but it looks more like Timothy than anything else so far:


*Going to bed too soon to finish this post last night,
but early enough to contribute to a new recipe for yet another Good Day!

 

Grass and turmeric and some same old (sweet) things.

Today I’m wondering what this grassy “weed” is, along a stretch of path by the creek that didn’t get mown down – yet? It’s very familiar, and I guessed it was rye, but I can’t match it up with anything in Weeds of the West at this stage. Maybe when the seed heads develop, if it is allowed to remain.

The Queen Anne’s Lace that made such a lush display last year was removed on my side of the creek, but there are a couple of plants starting to bloom on this far side:

Thursday I worked in the kitchen and cooked up a storm the whole day long. I hardly did anything else. Every other Thursday my CSA box (farm box) gets delivered, so I had that to deal with. I made some more of the Egg Bhurji, a sort of Indian scramble, and got the flavors closer to my goal. This time I grated fresh turmeric into it because I had it on hand. I had bought the turmeric rhizomes to plant, but there were more of them than I needed for that.

I boiled the quail eggs. They were so darling at every stage, I even had to take pictures of them simmering in the pot. One place I read said to cook them for two minutes, another four minutes, so I think I had them in the pan for about three minutes, and the yolks are soft, but that’s very pretty, too! And they are very tasty. 14 calories and 1.2g protein each.

Last Sunday when I saw them as the love offering on that bench, it was amazing how instantaneous was the progression in my mind to the thought, “I could raise quail!” Ha! I did laugh at myself. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility, and it would be easier than chickens, but I want to get started on raising worms as my next homesteading project.

Now that the temperature has been in the 80’s the sweet peas are exploding; one day I took bouquets to two different neighbors, and the next day I filled two vases for my own house. Soon the stems will be too short to do much with, and I need to take them out anyway, to make room for the butternut squash that I will train up the trellis.

Some pretty blooms in the house are the Nodding Violet or Streptocarpella, a species of Streptocarpus, which a friend and I agreed sounds like a flower to feed a dinosaur with a sore throat. But they don’t make that many flowers that I want to offer them to the sick, so I think I will forget about the dinosaur and just remember Nodding Violet.

Mrs. Bread gave me my first plant, from which I accidentally broke a stem that I rooted into a second plant; I gave that second plant to friend Ann at church.  Then my violet was struck down by cold in the greenhouse one winter’s day, but by then Ann had started a second plant which she gave to me. And that is how we take care of each other and of our Nodding Violets, and how I am learning to just keep them safe in the house. They are nodding “Yes” to that:

And in the back garden, the red California poppies are blooming under the (fruitless) plum trees. Mr. Greenjeans said that the warm weather we had a few months ago confused the plums and made them bloom early; then the frost hit and destroyed the buds. 😦 So he doesn’t have any plums, either. This is the third year for my plums and I ate one last year.

Considering how little attention I have given my strawberries, and the fact that they are old plants, it is a big surprise to me that they are so happy and productive this spring. This morning I picked eight fruits to bring into the house, which might set a record, but that could be because in the past I have eaten them all in the garden.

I hope your June is starting out as happy as mine. ❤

Eggs and flowers, and a musing duck.

Where did the creek go? What next?
Those are the big questions I imagined this fellow was musing on as he stood quietly,
webfoot-deep in what so recently was a deep and flowing stream.

I guess it was a combination of our old bones and the chilly and damp weather that seemed to force the dwellers here to use the furnace — in May?? But that was last week, and for Pentecost and Memorial Day, everything changed; the creek is shrinking, the fountain water evaporating daily, and those of us who gathered at the cemetery to pray for those who died in battle were glad to have hats and/or stand in the shade.

The first strawberry turned ripe-red in the middle of the chilly week, and I didn’t anticipate any sweetness, but I took its picture and bit into it — and surprise! It was completely dessert-worthy and perfect.

On my walks to Felafel Cat’s place, which I will walk for the last time as soon as I finish this post, I have seen different plants to study. We had a fortnight lily by our swimming pool for ten years, but that is a thing of the past, so I loved seeing this one reaching over the sidewalk.

All these flowers are nice indeed, but what I really wanted to show you this week, which made a post so urgent, are these quail eggs; they were waiting for us worshipers after Pentecost Liturgy on a bench outside the door of the church, with a sign saying, “Happy Pentecost! Please take and enjoy!” I brought home one of the tidy boxes of a dozen eggs, which I think are one of most beautiful and unusual and springtimey gifts one could ever receive.

Tucked into my purse they traveled quite safely to my refrigerator,
but soon they must be cooked…
I think I’ll boil them so I can eat one at a time and prolong the magic.

Happy Spring to all!