Shadows cast.

The roses have buds. Branches glow, casting brisk lines. Cranes blot the sky as the earth sheds the day. The seasons have changed and the world feels crisp, crunchy.

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The sog battles the snap underfoot. Giving with one step, resisting the next, I feel the transition dance through my soul.

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My timing is off. The beat, I’ve lost. I am not the only one out of sequence.

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It’s time I pause to join once again in the rhythm of things.

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…ate it anyway. Ate it anyway…

I fill the feeder and they come. They drain and abandon. I fill the feeder and they come. They drain and abandon. The finches and swallows, scissortails and sparrows, they give way. The doves and grackels have claimed their turf. I stop filling the feeder.

The tomatoes are in the shade. Did the china berry grow since last summer? I doubt by that much. My garden layout made it to Plan G before being constructed, and ended at Plan P by the time I finished building. I may’ve encroached on the shade a bit much. Everyone on the west side is a tinge yellow.

I grew peas this year. I wanted my daughter to have fresh garden peas. Yesterday, she ate fresh garden peas, straight from the pod held in my hands. A moment in time where the time spent away with the soil allowed the soil to grow the food to feed the time spent together. I didn’t even think they tasted that great having already baked through many a day near 90 degrees. She devoured them one by one. As did a caterpillar who had burrowed its way down into a pod and was happily munching through each pea toward the bottom. I let it be.

A tomato appeared at a sprint. Only flowers swearingly yesterday and today a large gum ball grown at an odd angle. As though one side pinched shut while the other ballooned. I lost the labeling system after the final transplant thanks to all of the rain we’ve been having (I never did make it back out with a pencil to rewrite the pen notations.)

Trees are trying for it seemingly everywhere. In the self-re-seeded celusia. In the lavender. In the lime. As much as I like trees and as much as some places need so many more of them, I have quite enough right here. I cannot help but pot up some of the more impetuous specimens. Would you like a baby bur oak? Or perhaps a pecan? I have extra.

The sweet potatoes are impatient months into their stint in the burlap sack. They were promised parole in April. “It’s May, you know,” they say. I dug a bed for them. Grass begone! Organic matter mixed in to lighten the clay. Oh, there’s a rock. Let’s pry that out of there…oh! there’s another rock. And another. Pry pry pry. And…that’s a pipe. Here’s a car, and a hardware store, and some couplings, and here’s a hole in the ground. ┬áIt’s almost dark. I eyeball. I dry fit. It’s beautiful. I prime. It dries. I cement and connect and cement and connect. Cement and connect and cement and – snap! That’s another pipe. That was Sunday three weeks ago. Last Sunday I attempted the second fix. Cut too long…adjusted too short. Tried anyway. It leaks. There’s still a hole in the ground.

Plum blossoms

A few years back now, I gave DH a four-way grafted plum tree as a celebratory gift. June, is her name. Two years ago, she gave us a single branch of the most delectably delicious fruit we’d ever dreamed of. Previously, I was not a fan of plums. As with most things, if we grow it ourselves, we gain a new appreciation for all that it is.

Last year, for reasons undecided, we were not gifted with any fruit. She didn’t bloom much, but the blossoms she did offer were enjoyed by the bees. There wasn’t a late freeze…or was there? I can’t recall. Needless to say, we had no plums.

The branch that gave us the fruit two years ago bloomed one little blossom on Monday. Tuesday, there were a few more…
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And this afternoon, well, let’s just say June has been busier than the bees have so far this year.
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But wait. What’s this? A second variety is joining the flower fest for the first time.DSC_0057

And the other two branches have buds waiting their own floral debut.

This winter was not any colder than past winters, or wetter, but it definitely had more cold days (or chill hours, as they call them in Tree Speak.) I can’t help but think that the other varieties require slightly more chill hours than the first, thus the petals pushing their way forth. I can barely let myself hope (and yet can hardly wait) for those same fruits again this year. And perhaps for three more varieties to try (and fall in love with) to boot!

It’s time to start hardening off the tomatoes, and nearly time to plant them out. I haven’t made their bed yet though…want to see how one hauls a half yard of compost when you sold the pick-up to purchase a family car? But of course you do!
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It doesn’t cost anymore than buying it in one bulldozer drop into the back of the truck. It does, however, require a good bit of shoveling, lifting, and heaving. I was just talking about how I didn’t have time to both garden and go to the gym…

Bill the Sunbird

Bill, the lime tree, comes inside each winter. Most years, he serves double duty as Christmas Tree and air freshener. This year my folks gifted us with a noble fir from their neck o’ the woods and Bill was off the hook.

He spends his winter days dropping leaves and making buds. I don’t know enough about lime trees to know if this is normal behavior or not, but it’s worked for him these past years. He’s a Persian Lime, so his fruit is less tart than some varieties, larger than store limes, and on occasion it is sweet enough to simply eat. Usually we relish his hard work by adding it to drinks (fresh juice, sparkling water) or squeezing it atop Pad Thai or grilled chicken.

He is still working on one final lime from the fall season, and has gone bananas (or would it be limes?) getting ready for this year.

Lime nectar

Each flower bud starts ever so shy and tiny and then swells like a popcorn kernel. Before bursting forth into a five-pointed snowy star, a single droplet of nectar forms to attract any willing pollinators.

The nectar shines in the sunlight with hope and promise.
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Although with no pollinators in the house, I’m not sure it’s a necessary function for harvest as he has already set a few dozen limes and more buds are breaking.

What, if anything, do you bring indoors for the winter months?

Pleasant surprises

I like surprises. I’ve claimed to like surprises for years. I still make that claim. I don’t often feel the need to specify that I like pleasant surprises. I jump in movies when things jump out at you. Enough so that those around me usually get a good chuckle (as do I when I’m settled back in my seat.) I never mean that I like those surprises…

What kind then? Well, the surprise carnations after a long week or the mid-afternoon coffee delivery during an eight hour meeting. Those kind I definitely like. I also like certain garden-variety surprises (pun! ha!)

This spring was possibly the best spring for gardening in Central Texas since I started gardening here five years ago in pots on a balcony. Unfortunately, it was possibly the worst spring for me for gardening since then as well. With everything working out how it did, most of my garden successes this summer are pleasant surprises.

A generational photo. The ornamental (so I’m told) Fiery Chili overwintered last winter, a little worse for the wear on the left. Rewarding my philosophy of “I don’t recognize that as weed or purposeful plant, I’ll let it grow” the chilies that dropped off in the freezes have made new offspring for the season.
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I attempted to grow Butterfly Weed season after season, year after year, and on the actual final seeds in the packet, I finally managed to grow butterfly weed (last year.) It went to seed last fall. I gathered up the giant wishers (butterfly weed seeds resemble dandelion seeds, if dandelion seeds took steroids.) I tossed them to the breeze. This year the original plant returned to bloom again, along with four new specimens nearby.
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The bramble or berry? I pruned it down to two main shoots as suggested. Within the week it had short nubby sprouts in the leaf stem armpits. One of which thought to test the air for pollen.
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DH is a fan of basil with hints (or brazen) flavors of anise. Thai basil tops the list for him. Last year we purchased a small African Blue Basil with an anise nose from our local Green and Growing. It fell off in the frost and I pruned it to the ground. My thought being that the root system would feed the soil and bring joy to the microbes and fungal map. I did not expect it to return…the bees are ever grateful that it did.
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And in remembering last year’s bumper crop of surprise acorn squash, I did not expect any acorns again this year as we hadn’t eaten any (to create a seed supply in the compost) since the last crop. I’d thought this little volunteer was a summer squash variety…
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Volunteer Avocado the 9th. I though to dig him up and pot him last fall, to bring inside with his brethren. I thought further. I already had six his size in pots, not to mention Elian and the middle-sized one. I left him to fend for himself. Fend he did. We had multiple nights last winter hit 24 degrees Fahrenheit and while suffering a little leaf burn, he came back. He’s been frozen, eaten, and burned, and here he stands. Not the most handsome of arborly fellows, but certainly one of the more stubborn.
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Elian gets a new home…

In October of 2010, I opened a compost bin. It had been “cooking” for at least four months, undisturbed. Dark and damp, the plant materials had been fodder for the microbes and the whole pieces had turned to powerful muck.

All except for this guy.
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The Pit That Earned a Pot. (Later renamed Elian by DH, for surviving a long “voyage” in a dark lonely place.) Time passed. We moved. Elian out grew pot after pot…

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Elian rode home with a friend a few weeks ago, to his new home across town. May the sun shine gently on his leaves and he continue to overcome the odds. Perhaps with any luck, he’ll be of a self-pollinating variety and we can have an avocado-inspired dinner party in his honor (where I will eat other things…)