Saturday, September 30, 2017

Red Oak House garden notes no. 31

Jim took a break today from fishing and hunting in order to work on his garlic bed.  He also cultivated an area in the vegetable garden for me.  Now that we have a chicken-wire fence around the vegetable garden, I can plant tulips and the rascally rabbits won't gnaw them down to nubs.

I planted eighty bulbs, yellow and red, and they will be bright spots next spring when most of the plants are just getting started.  It was a windy fall day, but the sun was shining.  While we worked, we could hear the loudspeaker from the BSC Bowl and the people cheering on their football and soccer teams.

Yesterday I picked more than a quart of our fall raspberries and we delivered some to my Mother.

Indoors, the folding table is full of green tomatoes, ripening in the sun from the dining room windows.

From now on, we'll both be tracking in lots of leaf debris when we go in & out the doors.

Our next door neighbors' tree has left a lovely carpet on their lawn this morning.

Across the street from us at Tom O'Leary Golf Course, a couple of young guys were getting in some of the last days on the links before the season ends. The colors in the trees there are just starting to turn, I think because these trees get so much water.

Last night, I attended the local Unitarian Universalist's Gandhi Peace Indian Dinner, with the tastiest (and spicy) feast prepared by my friends Aruna and Vinod Seth, and I resolved to make this an annual event.

When we were both ready to quit for the day, we wandered over to Barnes & Noble where John Bluemle was signing his book North Dakota's Geologic Legacy.  Good book, great gentleman, one of ND's treasures.

Then, we took a walk through the Food Truck Festival for a late lunch, passing by the Bismarck Community Garden where the zinnias are lovely.

The variety of food and creativity of vendors was fun to see.  Yummy.

I indulged in potato dumplings from The Czech Wagon and we both bought Mud Pie ice cream from Hot Cookie Mama.  We live in a great city and life is good.

"If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I bet they'd live a lot differently. When you look into infinity, you realize there are more important things than what people do all day." Bill Watterson

Friday, September 29, 2017

My watershed address

Deciding that my knees are sufficiently recovered to again ride my bicycle, I hit the trail today.  That is the trail along one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, the Missouri.  It was a gorgeous autumn day, 63 degrees, with a Zephyr breeze and blue sky. 

I loaded my bike into my car and headed for Steamboat Park. The cottonwoods have begun to turn lemony yellow and the fallen ash leaves crunched under my wheels.   Honking Canada geese passed by overhead.

All along the river trail, there is a series of city parks, and wayside exhibits interpreting the history of the area, including keelboats and steamboats and bridges.  The trail was busy with walkers, skateboarders, other cyclists, dog walkers, and parents with children in strollers.  Someone was playing with their dog at the sandy beach.

I was content with the knowledge that my husband was further downstream on that same river, fishing with his pals.

The sandbar willows have turned golden and the myriad colors of autumn filled my senses. 

I passed by a sign for Papa's Pumpkin Patch, a place north of where I was that brings much delight to the area children, and the child-at-heart.

Then, I lingered at the area under the bridge where they've erected a statue and interpretative signs describing the historical Liberty Memorial Bridge, that opened in 1922.  The statue is a piece of the old bridge, demolished after the new one opened.

The day the old bridge was demolished, the roar of the explosion rumbled across town and could be heard and felt from our house.

What I contemplated as I rode along was my watershed address.  We live on the edge of Jackman Coulee which flows into the Missouri River.  While I recreated, my washing machine, using this river water, was washing my clothes.  The water bottle in the holder on the bike was filled with clean river water.

I also contemplated last year's "Water is Sacred" protests that took place here.  My prayer for the day is may the good Lord help us all to always remember what a gift the Missouri River is to us.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Red Oak House garden notes no. 30

Autumn beauty continues to emerge in my yard including peak hydrangea color, hinting at the frost that is nigh.  Jim complains that he has about 500 green tomatoes still on the vine and the folding table is back in the dining room in preparation for bringing those in for ripening, ending the cycle that began with the seedlings in that same spot last spring.  

The other day he smoked some of the duck breasts, the bounty of his hunt of last week.  Today I started cutting back the perennials, composting the greenery, leaving only the mums, asters, coneflowers, and Dark Towers Penstemon for the winter, to catch the snow on the beds.  Who knows how many days I have left to accomplish this.  I have to steel myself to do this as the beds will look so bare, armed with the knowledge that the foliage will be mushy to deal with in the spring if I postpone.  I have five backyard beds and so I work my way slowly through these. Not long after I started, I had to shed my hoodie as the temperature climbed.  It is so satisfying to work in the autumn sunlight on this beautiful, still day.

The Painted Lady butterflies were swarming on the Purple Palace aster today and there is russet in the vine that covers the boundary fence.  Soon I hope we will be eating Brussel sprouts, but for now, they are a very lovely color in the vegetable garden.  The broccoli and basil have gone to seed.

Mid-afternoon, Jim arrived home with four more ducks and he patiently plucked one for roasting.  Lizzie the Springer Spaniel got to accompany him this time.  She settled in and napped away the remainder of the day in the sun.

By the end of the afternoon, the perennial beds in back looked like this. I will leave the front yard hosta garden alone as it needs the yellow color the leaves will turn as the fall progresses or it would look too barren.

In other news of the cycles of our lives, during the pre-dawn hours this morning, I put our daughter Chelsea on a flight to Colorado, where she will be attending dog grooming school for the next three months.  In the car, I played this song for her to make her smile. Then, we switched to Morning Edition 'cause we are NPR folks.

It was great fun to watch her go through security and leave her in the company of all of the others bound for Denver, the first time she has ever flown without me.  This is a big step for her, a dream she's had for years, coming true.  We know she will fly high! Bon voyage, dear one. 

Later I got the text that she was safely at her destination and with her new mentor, and the prayers and good wishes of many good people in our lives are with her.

While I worked in the yard, I listened to the squirrels gamboling about in the crabapple trees, and I am grateful that I have the blessings of a quiet day, while so many others bustle about.  I made mental notes about garden chores I will add to the spring list, such as moving plants to different locations or dividing perennials or making new purchases.  I listened to a nearby blue jay's raucous call.

A month ago, I took a very hard fall, landing on my knees on a concrete curb with full force.  Today, I am grateful that, after a few weeks of physical therapy, I can again bend and stoop and kneel.  Many of the things on my late summer gardening chore list got pushed to next summer, but, so it goes.  Mostly I scoot around on my derriere, dragging my garbage can behind me.

I also fertilized our strawberry bed, while golden ash leaves fell upon my head.  There is a hint of color this morning in the red oak tree and the backyard burr oak is beginning to turn.  I look forward to the bright yellow leaves of our aspens trees, a tree that my daughter saw in full color as she flew over the Colorado Rockies today.

Now are the days when we will eat hearty stews and chili and lasagna and soups.  The young man who delivers our firewood will bring two loads and Curt, the nice man who maintains our sprinkler system, has come and blown it out for the season.  I've even staged the snow shovels in the garage and stored away the patio umbrella.

Can you tell that my siblings and I were Scouts and my mother a Den Mother, when we lived in El Paso, Texas, while my father was stationed at Fort Bliss? This photo was taken in the late fall of 1969.  For some reason, my younger brother did not wear his Cub Scout uniform that day, but rather his miniature Army uniform, unaware that someday he would serve a career in the US Navy.  I was envious that my older sister got to wear nylon stockings.  What a happy crew we were.

On Monday, I saw a large flock of pelicans migrating.  Soon there will be sandhill cranes.  True story, while I watched the pelicans, I was listening to this Joni Mitchell song on the car stereo.  I'll be playing it on repeat in the coming days.