A Summer Flashback: Goldfinch

Goldfinch

A goldfinch that landed on the mirror of our car while I was waiting for my husband in the parking lot!

 

Goldfinches

In the fields
we let them have-
in the fields
we don’t want yet
where thistles rise
out of the marshlands of spring, and spring open-
each bud
a settlement of riches
a coin of reddish fire-
the finches
wait for midsummer,
for the long days
for the brass heat,
for the seeds to begin to form in the hardening thistles,
dazzling as the teeth of mice,
but black
filling the face of every flower.
Then they drop from the sky.
A buttery gold,
they swing on the thistles, they gather
the silvery down, they carry it
in their finchy beaks
to the edges of the fields,
to the trees
as though their minds were on fire
with the flower of one perfect idea-
and there they build their nests
and lay their pale-blue eggs, every year,
and every year
the hatchlings wake in the swaying branches,
in the silver baskets
and love the world.
Is it necessary to say any more?
Have you heard them singing in the wind, above the final fields?
Have you ever been so happy in your life?

~Mary Oliver

Advertisements

Summer’s End

end-of-summer-garden

End-of-Summer garden

It’s been awhile since I last posted anything on this blog although I’ve taken many photos of the garden during the weeks away from writing and posting. I’d like to fill in that blogging gap with those photos and some stories of things that have happened in the garden, so I’ll be doing some catch-up posts today.

This morning, as I write, it is gray and rainy outside–very Fall-like. Summer is definitely over, but October always has many pretty days to enjoy, and I look forward to my fall activities in the garden. Reflecting on my summer in the garden… I learned a lot this growing season and enjoyed my gardening time! Among my successes was my Triangle Garden full of Zinnias. Many people passing by have stopped to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed it. One admirer was a little girl walking by with her mother. She got so excited when she saw all the flowers, and her excitement was the best compliment I could imagine, so I clipped a handful of zinnias for her to carry home. We were both thrilled!

Another success this summer was my tomato garden box. In April, I took a gardening class at Farmington Gardens on planting a vegetable garden. I put to use the things I learned in that class about tomatoes, and I had a much better tomato crop this year than last. I had to chuckle as I sat in class taking notes and realizing that I had done everything wrong last year with planting and caring for my tomatoes, which was why I had such a poor crop. But I still got tomatoes last year, so I was excited to try again, with my new knowledge, and see what happened. I wasn’t disappointed! There are still tomatoes on the vines, although they’re slower to ripen at this point because there’s not as much light and warmth, but we’ve enjoyed the variety of tomatoes and other veggies in our summer salads.

Saying goodbye to Summer was harder for me this year because it was such a nice summer! But I love Autumn, and will enjoy my seasonal gardening tasks of cleaning up, planting cover crops and fall veggies.

The Triangle Garden Revisited

Triangle1

Our driveway is at an angle from the street. When we decided to place our vegetable garden on the west side of our house (where we get the most sun), we made that angled driveway part of the design. Hubby built the nine 4 x 4 raised beds for the veggies and placed them in a grid pattern parallel to the house and the sidewalk, leaving plenty of walk space between them. That left a big triangle between the garden and the driveway.

This Spring I decided to honor the triangle by filling it with flowers. I ordered seeds for Zahara Zinnias after seeing a display of them at Farmington Gardens last Fall. They were so beautiful and different from zinnias I had seen before, so I planted masses of them…much closer together than the instructions on the seed packet said to do. Then I watered them and waited. I was not disappointed! They are quite beautiful, the bees like them, and they add a lot of color to our veggie garden!

On Loving Summer!

Our kitchen garden...

Our kitchen garden…

SUMMER! This summer our yard has lots of flowers blooming, tomatoes happening, yummy peppers to add to salads, little cucumbers promising! And I will say something that I’ve rarely said before: I am loving this Summer! That’s very unusual for me. I’ve always had a lot of trouble with the heat, so summer has never been my favorite season. But this summer is different!

Black&Blue Salvia

Black & Blue Salvia

There are two main reasons for this change in my attitude and enjoyment of SUMMER. One, is that Hubby and I planted a serious garden this year, and the old maxim is absolutely true: “one who plants a garden, plants happiness!”  I love making tomato sandwiches for lunch with our own homegrown tomatoes! I love picking sweet pea blooms and putting them in a little mug in our kitchen window. I love watching the hummingbirds that frequent our Black & Blue Salvia! But the other important reason that I am loving this summer is that I am now more physically able to spend time outside and better able to handle the heat challenges of the season.

At age 67, I am becoming an athlete.  Last year, when I became an official senior citizen, I signed up for an exercise program 3 days a week at the gym down the street.  That exercise class has been a life changer for me in that I am so much more active and fit than I’ve been in years and years.  2nd PlaceThen, 6 months ago I found a “running buddy.” Actually, my buddy runs and I walk fast. “Power walking,” I call it. I’m not trained as a true speed walker, but I’ve always enjoyed walking and I have long legs and can set a pretty fast pace. My running buddy is an 81 year old athlete and former marathon runner, and is a wonderful, inspiring mentor. We run/walk together 2 mornings a week, and it’s become a great partnership! We signed up for 5 different 5k races this summer, and our “training” for those races has been very successful. So when I describe myself as “becoming an athlete,”  I say that with a lot of pride and a growing sense of accomplishment at my efforts to become more fit.

So both gardening and exercise have brought a lot of happiness into my life this year and made this summer one of the nicest in years and years.

My running buddy and me!

My running buddy (on the right) and me!

 

Listening to the Garden

acorn

We have been busy this week with a late summer project. Hubby is putting a new roof on the old garage, and I have been helping him by whitewashing the boards that will be under the shingles. The white painted side will face down and brighten up the inside of that old structure.

While I painted in the early morning, the sounds of our garden entertained me. First were the sounds of numerous birds: scrub jays, acorn woodpeckers, white-crowned sparrows, and then a flock of bushtits in the hedge. Later, a frog joined in and squirrels chattered at me from their spot in the neighbor’s tree across the alley. Finally, I became aware of a recurring sound and realized it was acorns dropping from our very tall oaks. They hit the ground with definite thuds and bangs (depending on where they landed). I just didn’t want one to land on me! One dropped and hit me on the shoulder two years ago and I definitely don’t want to repeat that bruising pain.

That hour of just working and listening was delightful. Unfortunately, the weekly landscaping crew arrived at the house across the street and immediately the lovely morning sounds of our garden were lost to the sound of loud lawn-mowing equipment.

painting