Monday, August 30, 2010

September On Deck.

8-30-10 VERMONT: The pretty weather continues, today was in the upper 80’s and cloudless. I continue to do wrapping up chores. We head for NJ in a few days.

We saw “Get Low” tonight with Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray and Lucas Black—another great Indie—see it.

New blooms: more sedum.

Autumn Sedum. It must have been a good summer, this one hardly ever flowers.

Turtle Head. I can see that, especially if it had eyes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Closing August.

8-29-10 VERMONT: Since that last post, sorry about the delay, the weather has been progressively nicer. All sun all the time and getting warmer. Today feels like July.

I have finished most of the things I was doing, the wood is split and stacked. The future herb garden has been emptied of the iris, geraniums, grass, dandelions, jacobs ladder, sorrell and anything else that was in it. I transplanted the flowers, some to the bed around the propane tank access and some to the bank behing the pond. Lots of soil came out with the uprooted plants, so I need to add back some nice juicy compost or garden soil. I plan to wait a few weeks to see if any of the banished plants show up again before proceding with herbs. In fact, I’ll probably wait until spring. The line up includes: thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, tarragon, chives and, if there’s room, dill.

We spent one afternoon on the Connecticut River in North Thetford before putting the canoe in the barn, probably for the winter.

Connecticut River in Thetford.

Social season has broken out here as everyone’s families and guests have gone home. We went to a dinner party at Arnie and Phyllis’s Friday and were at Ken and Jane’s last night.

New blooms: autumn sedum.

Mint Flowers and Fans.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Rain.

8-25-10 VERMONT: Yesterday was sunny and pleasant, and I got a bit more of the wood split. We had dinner in Lebanon [NH] with Dave and Gail. There was 1.25 inches of rain in the gauge yesterday morning from the preceding 36 hours of rain. Today, more rain, but no significant accumulation. Everything outside is sopping from drizzle, even the pond seems wetter than usual. Dinner tonight with the Reeses in Hanover.

New blooms: bottle gentian.

Bottle Gentian. Early Americans used this plant as a source of purple dye.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back in Thetford.

8-22-10 VERMONT: We had an uneventful trip back from Quebec on Friday. Yesterday was pleasant after a cold, 45° Friday night. Judy switched us to flannel sheets on Saturday, the first sign of fall. Today, it’s pouring, no wind or electricity, just teeming rain overnight and all morning. Oh yes, there was 0.7 inches in the rain gauge when we got back.

Yesterday morning we went to another country auction, which marked the end of the line for another family. There were horse drawn sleighs and a surrey with a fringed top, a sixties cadillac in peeling red paint, a ski-doo, wood cook stoves, medical equipment from, i’m guessing, the 1920’s, leather bound hymnals from the early 1800’s, modern paperbacks, all the usual glasses and china, old clothes, boxes full of buttons, farm equipment, rugs, furniture—old, new and some homemade. It’s two hundred years of lives all for sale in an afternoon.

Snow Travel, from different centuries.

In my afternoon I started splitting the wood we found neatly stacked in the driveway on our return, less than half a cord. Chippers, the arborists, had been here while we were away and taken down some large branches that were hanging over the gardens and house. After a bit of that I did some more work on the flower bed that I’m clearing for the herbs. An entrenched, established flower bed is tough to clear if you’re trying to save the plants. I moved some of the iris to pond side by the rock ledge.

New blooms: another clematis, turtlehead.

Clematis on the north end of the deck.

Clematis on the south end of the deck, the other white stuff is phlox.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Le Haute Ville.

8-19-10 QUEBEC CITY, CANADA: Today was another beauty, and we explored the upper old town, le haute ville. We walked uphill from the hotel on rue St-Louis which is festooned with flags and banners and street signs. From Porte St-Louis, one of the gates in the city’s wall, we walked around La Citadelle and back to the hotel. Later we did lunch on the Grande AllĂ©e Est at another outdoor place named St. Hubert. After lunch we walked the battlements, hit the outdoor art kiosks, took in another street show, acrobat couple, and took a break before dinner.

Dinner, our first indoor meal in two days, was at ‘Restaurant initiale’ on rue St-Pierre—fabulous. Check out, the courses were very complex with multiple tastes and textures of similar and contrasting foods and surprising combinations. NYC level of sophistication, worth a trip.

Vermont tomorrow.

Porte Saint-Louis.

Avenue St-Denis.

Rue St-Louis.

Rue St-Louis.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Le Basse Ville.

8-18-10 QUEBEC CITY, CANADA: We had breakfast outside near the hotel and then walked around le basse ville, the old town, Judy hit the shops, I took pix. After an outside lunch, we did more of the old town and eventually climbed back up to the upper town and the hotel. It’s a significant hike up and down. There is a funicular, but we feel morally obligated to climb after all the eating.

Le Chateau Frontenac est tres grand.

Le Basse Ville.

There are street shows, music, acrobats, break dancers, jugglers, singers, performing outside the hotel from morning until mid-evening, usually with a big crowd. The end of each show is ‘put money in the hat time’.

Break Dancers. Can you find a familiar face in the crowd?

Dinner was outside back in le basse ville at a great seafood place. While we ate a tour group went by every few minutes. After dinner there was another chance to climb the hill and catch an evening show.

Evening Acrobat.

Bon Soir, Le Basse Ville.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quebec, Canada.

8-17-10 QUEBEC CITY, CANADA: We drove up here this afternoon after boarding the dogs. It’s a four hour trip with almost no traffic until the metro area. We’re staying at the Chateau Frontenac, an enormous hotel on the cliff above the St. Lawrence River. The center city is beautiful with outdoor restaurants, restored stone buildings, cobblestone streets, church spires and steeply pitched roofs and towers, and flags all over the place, street music, art galleries. We walked around late afternoon, snacked and then had a great dinner in the lower town.

Lower Town Square.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Herb Garden Coming Up.

8-15-10 VERMONT: Yesterday, I finished the walkway after a trip to the brickyard. Bricks, basic model, are $1.11 each. Then I started working on the flower bed below the south end of the deck. It’s a small bed, very weedy with siberian iris, geranium and a few jacobs ladder. I want to turn it into an herb garden, it’s that close to the kitchen. I weeded it, pulling out mostly grass, clover, and goldenrod.

Today was cool, it barely got out of the sixties. I started pulling flowers out of that bed, digging them up with root balls. Most of them were moved to the propane tank area and a couple of iris clumps I tried in the pond, near the edge by the water lilies. The bed is about half emptied.

Canada Tuesday.

New blooms: white star [native] clematis.

Chickadee working on sunflower seeds.

Hummingbird deciding if the feeder is red enough.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ompompanoosuc River.

8-12-10 VERMONT: It’s been seasonable and pleasant the last two days. Yesterday I weeded, filled feeders and planted more thyme, Thymus praecox [serpyllium], a siberian draba, and more Irish moss on the new patio. We bought the plants at Brown’s Nursery at their perennial sale.

I also tried something that I had read about somewhere sometime for growing and transplanting lichens. In the process of cleaning the rock formation, I pulled up a lot of moss and some lichens. I moved the moss to the gaps between the fieldstones on the patio.

I mixed some vinegar and honey in a small bowl and took scraping from lichen colonies and added the lichen to the honey-vinegar mix. Then I spooned it into small hollows on various rocks and posts to see if new colonies will develop. I also used the mix to transfer some larger intact pieces of lichen too. We’ll see.

Today we went canoeing on the Connecticut River where the Ompompanoosuc River joins it. Lots of water birds this year. In the afternoon I did more work on that walkway under the deck. I have used all the bricks I had and need more.

New blooms: more asters.

Ducks and Cormorants on the Ompom.

The sky before the storm a few nights ago. It's about 8PM, and dark from the storm. Off to the north and east [right], the sunset colors show from beyond the storm.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Foggy Morning.

8-10-10 VERMONT: We did get the rain last night. There were waves of intense T-storm activity, the thunder upset Chloe a lot. We had a brief power outage, and got a total of 0.75 inches of needed rain. It looks like a repeat performance tonight. This morning everything was cloaked in dense fog until about ten AM.

Yesterday I did some work on the walkway under the deck, and today I cleared weeds and tree sprouts from the big rock formation behind the maple trees. I had done it a few years ago, but it all grew back, of course, but then, I get to do it over again.

New blooms: globe thistle.

Shadowy Outlines and Reflectons.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Quirky White Ones.

8-8-10 VERMONT: The past three days have been beautiful. Seventies, dry, sunny, breezy and close to perfect. Things are starting to get dry again, however, and watering may become necessary. The weather glass shows atmospheric pressure dropping, so it may rain soon.

I have the August lazies and haven’t done much of anything, but no major chores are pending—a bit of spot weeding, pruning, picking veggies. We are giving tomatoes away, but there still piling up in the kitchen.

New blooms: chrysanthemum.

Indian pipes or ghost plant, Monotropa uniflora, is a non-green plant that grows on the forest floor on mycorrhizal fungi, these last are fungi that grow on tree roots in a mildly parasitic fashion. The indian pipes are not fungi. They pop-up in August in moist woodlands. Some are pinkish.

Another white one. Bane Berry or Doll's Eyes, Actaea pachypoda, has an interesting look, but is poisonous, cardiac toxic, to humans, and probably other mammals, but not toxic to birds. The glitzy style draws in the birds who eat the seeds and later poop them out with a drop fertilizer which is why it grows here under trees and fences.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A Bite of the Apple.

8-5-10 VERMONT: The past two days have been hot, very humid, misty and hazy with no breeze. Yesterday we were about 90° again. I haven’t done much more than a little weeding, filling feeders and a walk around—too hot. Today I made dinner, a gazpacho, with a lot of it coming from our gardens. It got an, “Excellent”, from the master chefess.

Since we’re on food, what do turtles eat? Fish? Snails? Crayfish? Algae? Water plants? How about apples? Yes, apples. This painted turtle spent a hour boxing this apple around the pond and learned what every bobber knows that it’s hard to bit a floating apple. The apple probably fell off a tree on the bank and rolled into the pond. Later I found it at the side of the pond. It had dozens of little bites taken out of it. Do you think a fellow reptile might have induced her to taste it?

New blooms: lobelia.

Checking it out.

Underwater attack.

I never found the cocoons of the monarch caterpillars [7-29-10 post], but this adult is newly arrived in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mint Condition.

8-3-10 VERMONT: We have had two rainy, misty, humid days with intermittent showers, but only 0.2 inches of precip. I have not done much except a bit of weeding. We tried the corn again tonight. It’s almost ripe. The tomatoes keep coming, and we’re eating them every different way we can think of: salad, roasted, pies, sandwiches. August is the month here for garden corn, tomatoes and berries. I love it.

We have herbs in the garden also. I brought more basil inside today, just for the aroma. The thyme, as a perennial, has taken over one corner of the garden. Oregano is also a perennial, but less invasive. Mint, on the other hand, has taken over about five percent of the ten-acre pasture in about three or four large stands. It is tall, aggressive and nothing eats it. A few years ago, I eliminated one stand by mowing it and covering the area with black plastic. It took two years to kill all the mint underneath the cover. Then I seeded, and we have grass there now. Alternatively, it would take a ton of herbicide to kill it all, so I will get out the mower and cover again.

Would anyone like some mint? Will some genius please invent a martini that uses mint.

In its defense, the mint is a favorite of many pollinators including the monarch butterfly and continues to bloom through September when it’s covered in orange flitters.

New blooms: mint.

Mint, truly as high as a horse's eye. How many juleps can you drink?

These mint flowers are covered with bees and butterflies.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Farm Auction.

8-1-10 VERMONT: Since that last storm, it has been cool, dry and in the forties at night. We almost built a fire one of those evenings. Things are drying out again, but the pond is still full, some years it has been down eight to ten inches in August. Today I was back behind the mower/trimmer to finish the pasture paths which ended up taking all day. Yesterday we picked wild blackberries in the pasture, almost two quarts worth.

Friday we went to a country estate auction in Bridgewater, VT. I bought a pair of large wooden clamps for a few dollars. These auctions are always poignant because you know the farmer and his wife must be gone and none of the children, if there are any, want the farm or furniture or gear and it’s all going to the highest bidders. When the auctioneers empty those barns, they find tools and equipment and fishing gear and cameras and ice skates and more from the last hundred years or so. This auction had dozens of stoneware crocks and jugs which were all bringing a lot. We had dinner at Ina’s in Quechee that night.

We are getting overwhelmed by tomatoes. We tried the corn tonight, but the kernels were too small even if sweet. It needs another few days.

New blooms: Queen Anne's lace.

Ligularia dentata 'Othello'