Friday, August 23, 2013

A Bit Introspective

So today I took another introspective drive up to my mother's house. The sky was gray and threatening to rain on the trip up, so I took that as a good sign. I put in my CD The Two Towers once again. The ride up was unremarkable until the ride home.
The music of the Lord of The Rings has a way of slowing things down and making one aware of the passing of time. As my tires rolled off the mountain into the quiet town of Thurmont, I passed a yard with a little ornamental maple tree. Now the trees on the mountain would not change their leaves for weeks, but around the base of this little tree were tiny yellow leaves. It hit me that summer was wrapping up to a close and the Autumn would soon come quietly, in all its blaze of color. How many Autumns have I seen in my life? A few enough, but how many could I remember? Time became very slow in this moment.
I considered how things were constantly changing in life, how my children were growing, and how I was constantly rushing around. It has always bothered me that the world runs by a clock. Why must I rush about everywhere?
And as I continued my drive, pulling onto the highway, big heavy rain drops started to fall in large splatters on my windshield. It was as if the angels were weeping, sopping, fitful tears. Perhaps they were crying for the passage of time that rolls on, for I too felt it. Soon enough the large sloppy splatters turned into a gentle rainfall as if the angels were saying they were sorry for the outburst, and now these were tears of peace and tranquility.
The music brought my mind to kingdoms and battles fought. My mind lately has been on the Kingdom of Heaven and the noble and great ones that have fought in the wars of Heaven. How with the passing of time, the valiant still fight against evil. The fight for Middle Earth may be a fictional tale, but it echos the same tragic yet hopeful story of time. All ages everywhere fight for something.
The passing of time may move slowly at times or it may speed up. But we control what we do each minute and we can stand steadfast in our place in time. We can be the valiant warrior, or the humble hobbit. I find peace in knowing that everything has its purpose and its time and place. We can move through life purposefully, which has always been my desire. Days like this are needed to remember, for if we can not remember, what is it all for?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hide and Seek Green Beans!

So let me just tell you about my experience with green beans. Growing up in my family of seven, five children. My industrious father would plan eight forty foot long rows of bush beans. Each child was supposed to pick a row of green beans. As a fourteen year old let me tell you how I bulked at this idea. The bush beans were low to the ground, I had to get down on my hands and knees in the grass clippings we used as mulch and comb through the scratchy bushes. They made my arms itch and the yellow bean bugs were everywhere and they would get smashed on my fingers and hands, and the sun was blazing hot. I hated it.
Then the agony was not over. We got about six to seven pounds of green beans at one time every third day. My mother told me sometimes it would be nine pounds! So what do you think we had to do after that? Snap them and freeze them. My mother would man the processing, and the rest of us went to work. It was a long task that made your shoulders ache and your fingers hurt. I remember piles of beans on my mothers antique oak dining table and piles of the snappings, the humidity in the air from the boiling pot in the kitchen, and the sounds of the rolling water. We had a double sink in the kitchen that my mother filled with ice cold water and she would lift the batch out of the boiling pot and dump them in the first sink of cold water and then put some more beans in the pot. Then we moved the first batch to the second sink to cool even more. It was a big process and I think the memory of it is what scared me to ever try it on my own.
Well as an adult, I started buying frozen green beans in the grocery store. Let me tell you, they just don't taste the same. It was really depressing. So I decided I must plant my own green beans.
Fast forward to now, nineteen years later. I had in my seed packets a bag of pole beans that were a couple years old. I was going to use them up just to be rid of them. In prior years my green bean crop had been literally only about a hand full of green beans, because I knew from experience, in order to get enough to freeze, it takes a lot of work, work which I was not quite ready for. So I prepped my garden this spring. The north side of the bed was 10 feet long. I planted a row with the beans about every three inches apart. And I still had beans left in my bag, so I started another row only about four inches away and spaced the beans the same. I did this for a total of four rows. I put up one trellis across the whole back of the garden that was only five feet tall.
I watched as my four rows sprouted. I watched as they started to climb the trellis. Every sprout twining around the netting. The four rows massed together to make an impressive wall of beans. Never did I think this would be so successful. My green beans are now coming in. Every third day I go out and pick a pound of green beans. As I comb through the scratchy leaves and hear the mosquitoes buzzing in my ears, I think that I am on a hide and seek hunt. Every bean is hidden so perfectly and you have to part the leaves aside to find them. Just when you think you are done then you find another bean and another. I am so amazed, so excited. A pound of green beans frozen makes about one quart size baggie.
So every couple days I can blanch the single pound and freeze them and guess what? It is not so intimidating doing a small batch. It wouldn't be enough to feed us a whole year such as my parents crop did, but it is very empowering all the same.
I just did a batch this morning and picked another one. The memories of picking green beans will live on. How I am thankful of the toiling my father gifted us with when I was young. I might not ever had attempted such a thing on my own if I had not experienced and known of the blessing of tasting your own.
In the center is a pound of green beans!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What a Mess!

This summer has the most usual weather that I can remember. We get rain almost every other day. Sometimes I wake in the morning and the ground is wet from a rain during the night. I am just thankful that I have not had to do much watering this summer, except that one dreadful week. My little pine still has some brown spots, though I trimmed a lot off, it needs another trimming. I think that since I am over the shock of its injury I can get on with the final trim and she can start on the healing.
Last night we received a torrential downpour with distant thunder and lightning. I find it so refreshing to hear it pounding on the roof and the ground, drowning out the sounds of everything else in the world. Wake up to bird bathes filled and a wet drooping garden. Everything that I have in my garden seems to need staking at one point of another. It doesn't help that most of my plants are drought tolerant and all this rains makes them droop from heaviness--the plants suck up too much of the moisture. So everything is sodden and sad.
The wetness makes dark days feel like I am living in a marsh. I went out today and stepped through the soaked grass and let the mosquitoes bite my arms, they seem to think it a bog as well. If our climate is going to become more tropical I will have to change my garden scheming.
I already have plans in place to add more shrubs. I find that with my increasing health issues that is the best low maintenance way. I have this spot in my backyard that is shrouded by the branches of my neighbors mulberry tree. She drops her stinking berries in this dreaded spot where I have tried to make a lovely garden and really it is just a fermenting, bug filled mess. So I have plans to relocate many of the perennials and rake it smooth and plant grass. This will help with all the hidden craggy places the mosquitoes like to breed. Next to this garden was an old shed platform that my husband finally pulled out. He had to cut away the plywood boards and dig up the old beams. Underneath revealed an old ground hog tunnel that we had long ago sealed off. This too will become lawn--nothing does well in that forsaken corner.
So my motto has become--simplify, whereas before I was obsessed with order and every little plant in its place. Simply put, you can not control how your garden grows no matter how much you try. They plants will either grow too big, droop or die off or look lovely for a few weeks and they brown the next. I learn to take it as it comes and still find beauty as it is.
Several days ago the American Gold Finch found her way back to my yard as they do every year at this time to find the seed heads of my purple cone flowers and monarda. I leave the heads just for them. My naked ladies have come out with almost my missing them, I was hibernating several days indoors and when I peered out one morning suddenly they were there.
So my zucchini is done. The vine borers finally sucked them dry, I ripped them out and threw them in the compost. The vine borers always get the zukes first. Now just today I saw that they are moving on to my yellow squash. I am not concerned as I have gotten so many squash that I am giving them away. I have a volunteer pumpkin in my compost that I am wondering why it just does not bare fruit, as it has spread all over. Everyday I find another cantaloupe, alas the one I just cut was not very sweet. Perhaps that is because of all the rain. Well with weather what ever comes must come.
Next year I have pondered giving the veggie patch a rest and sowing a bunch of annuals. I really do not give it the attention it deserves. With my laxity I came out to find another mammoth squash, sigh.
It might be fun to consider tucking some of my veggies in the flower beds. I wonder if doing that would confuse the squash beetles.