Tuesday, August 06, 2019

One Week of Summer

July 8 ::

We have been enjoying a lot about this summer, including mild weather, finishing projects, starting projects, staying close to home, having visitors. And there are, at least, 2 things that may come to represent this summer best... the garden and the bicycles. After renting bicycles on Balboa Island, Geoff was certain... the official 30th wedding anniversary gift would be eBikes from Rad Power Bikes. There is a long list of reasons, and inspiration for us to get on bicycles, and Geoff applied his usual reasoning and research skills to this investment. And now they're here, he's also applying his care and support to getting me out of the house, and peddling (safely, comfortably, gently.) So, if I am not on a bicycle, conquering fears and PTSD, then I am building gardens, housing gnomes, planting new (to me) specimens, and enjoying incredibly generous harvests.

At long last we have apricots! Our old tree needed 10 years of assurance, affection, pruning, coddling, patience, mulch. Maybe our very rainy season is what finally gave the tree what it needed most, because it is full-full-full of fruit! Enough to share. Enough to snack on. Enough to make jars and jars of refrigerator jam. Enough to experiment with... a drizzle of balsamic and seconds on a hot grill. We ate them in less time than it took to heat them up!

Alex made a sauce to drizzle over the roasting corn. It was butter, sake, and soy sauce. It was very good; no surprise. Maybe it's 3 things that are icons of this summer... the bicycles, the garden, and the grill.

July 11 ::

I planted 2 pumpkins in this bed. And are they ever happy! I mean, the growth is almost visible. I could fix a bowl of popcorn and watch these vines crawl out of the bed, across the lawn. We can't wait to see the big blossoms, the plump, green orbs! And on the other end of the goat/chicken divide, I am enlisting the strong arms of my children to help me start another gardening area. My hope is to make pretty shade, before the heatwaves arrive, using planters, native plants, shade cloth... I am just curating from around the yard, any old boxes, tubs, and stumps to create an inviting space. (Don't tell Geoff, but we have it in for his beloved lawn. Not all of it, but a good chunk of it will slowly be encroached upon and taken over by local plants, and raised beds. There will be plenty of open area for running, playing, swinging.)

July 12 ::

The chickens' side of their open barn faces the sunset, and on hot days, it gets pretty bad in their yard, so I'm liking the look of this first round of adding a soft barrier, outside of their space. I think they appreciate the visual interest, too. While we planted the marigolds, the chicas stood on the box and watched our activity.

Then, I finally, put a shade sail to use... I've had it forever, but it was hanging inside their yard, and they would roost on it, like a hammock, and it would get really gross. If you don't know... chickens poop even more in their sleep, than they do during the day, or maybe it seems that way because it all collects just below where they are roosting. I cleaned it up, and Alex helped me get the shade up and over the hardware cloth roof of the barn. It's taut and secure, and making a big area of cool shade for goats and hens. (Not a paid endorsement, but I will share that Coolaroo makes the best shade cloth, and I am using the "sail shade;" it's a big triangle. The one I initially got at the lumberyard was more expensive and totally janky, so Coolaroo, it is. End of ad.)

I am adding echinacea to the Icons of Summer list... So, that's Bicycles, Gardens, Grills, and Echinacea. They remind me of the midwest, where I would see them in gardens, in Minneapolis, in Madison, and Cambridge. They make me nostalgic. I used to think they were a bit too hard, too simple, yet bold. I can't explain what changed for me, but they are making me so happy, so wistful, too. Just looking at them recalls summer storms, and the lovely air and light of a summer day in Wisconsin, and that is beautiful to feel, to revisit, even if only in my mind.

William and Alex were so patient and receptive to all of my gardening ambitions, and they happily obliged me... rolling stumps across the lawn, collecting odds and ends to satisfy my exterior decorating schemes. Alex offered the carving log, and we found it makes a perfect perch for this gnome we have. Funny how an old log can be such a brilliant source of happiness, and industry, for so many years, and it's still appreciated and useful.

July 13 ::

Someone is missing... where did the gnome roam?

Coming in at #5, Icons of Summer, we have: Bunnies! It rained bunnies this spring! They're everywhere. Did you spy the little one in the pumpkin patch? Some get bold and don't bolt when we approach. Sometimes we see 6, at once, dotted all over the yard. They each seem to have a preferred shrub or spot where they dart to and fro. When we set the old log in the new garden area, planted it with succulents and set the gnome in his home, the bunnies were seen visiting the arrangement, and that was quite adorable to watch. But I think they mistreated the gnome.

Remember when we got our act together and taught Maria how to ride a bicycle? It was a late start, and we were so glad (relieved) that she took to it, and the next step was to get her a bike her size, and take her on a real ride. Well. Then stuff happened, and other stuff happened, and as will happen, time passed, and etc, etc, etc... anyways. 3 years later, Maria took her first bicycle ride, and poor thing, it was almost like starting from scratch, but all is well that ends well, because she really has the hang of it, now, and a bike her own size, too.

This is why I love summer... for the time, free from schedules, and demands, free to learn new things, and explore and grow, to be daring, adventurous, silly, to finish projects, and start new ones, to linger over an idea, and stare off into the middle distance, and let things simmer. There is no learning like summer learning... it's sacred, wonderful, good.

The fenders on our bicycles are getting the custom treatment. Geoff's are Rustoleum Marigold, just like our light fixtures, and mine will be Grape. I call Geoff's bicycle The Bee. And I call our entryway, The Bike Shop. We are never going to be featured in Better Homes & Gardens. Oh, and points to Geoff for remembering to put a hat on.

July 14 ::
Natalie, Max, William, Delia, Maria, Alex, Geoff~

We have a visitor! My Mom is so awesome... she's made the very long drive to see us, then my cousins, and my aunt, and my brothers, and then she has all those miles to get back to her Oregon home, but I am getting ahead of myself. She's here, now.

July 15 ::
Max and Chango... Chango, who loves summer, because Max is home, and no one cares for Chango as diligently, and thoughtfully as Max.