Miracles

CyclamenThis morning I noticed something amazing — the green leaves of a healthy cyclamen growing along the driveway.  And then I remembered . . . over three years ago I had planted cyclamen bulbs in three places.  Two of those places had beautiful cyclamen flowers each of the past three seasons.  I had forgotten that I planted some in this third location.  And there they were!  I’m sure the leaves had not shown themselves in prior years in this spot.  I find nature’s timing — and persistence — to be incredible.  It did not matter that the plant had not sprouted leaves for so long.  What mattered is that they did finally arise.

Yesterday I witnessed two other miracles.  First was a bluebird darting around and singing.  I thought all the bluebirds had already left for the winter as we’ve already had some cold days.

Secondly, I saw a monarch butterfly (with fresh wings) seeking nourishment from the last few blooms on the butterfly bush.  I had just been reading a lovely post about the monarch butterflies (and the related links in that post to some detailed photos of the monarch’s life cycle).  Surely all the monarchs were already on their way to their wintering grounds.  And yet, here it was — just like the bluebird — gracing me with its beauty.

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Green smoothie — on the wild side

Bittercress smoothieThis is so cool . . .  I have been reading about adding foraged greens to a blended drink.  So I tried it out.  I found a nicely sized bittercress plant in the yard.  After picking the plant and removing its lower leaves, I added it to the blender with a large handful of soaked Brazil nuts, a banana, two dates, some water and lots of ice cubes.  Then, blended together and . . .  voila!

Bittercress smoothieIt tastes marvelous.  There’s not even a “taste” of green to it.  Just the right amount of sweetness, nuttiness and knowing that I’ve done something really good for myself.

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“Wild” green salad

Common chickweed

Common chickweed

I’ve been enjoying some fresh salad greens for a couple months — despite the cold wintery weather.  Gradually I am learning which “weeds” are actually edible in a salad.  So . . . with the addition of chickweed, sheep sorrel, bittercress, plantain and oxeye daisy leaves, I’ve had some really great salads.  I added these wild greens to the bits of bok choy, arugula, lemon balm, garlic chives and carrots I’ve scrounged from the winter garden.  Granted, most everything is pretty small right now and I selectively harvest from the wild edibles because I want the plants to flourish later this spring and summer.

There’s no photo of these delicious salads because every time I’ve thought about taking a photo . . . I’ve already eaten the salad!

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Do the frogs know something I don’t?

Frog eggsThe frogs came out of winter hibernation about a week ago when we received lots of cold rain.  They’ve been croaking ever since.  And now they have even mated and laid eggs!  Today is a cold, windy, cloudy 40 degree day.  Still, they are swimming around as if it were sunny and warm.

Do they think it’s spring already??

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Let me hibernate

111127 P1480902I was cleaning out stones which had fallen into the frog pools when I came to this stone.  I lifted the flap of pool liner which was covering the stone and saw . . .

111127 P1480905. . . a frog perched on the stone attempting to move into hibernation.  Well I decided that stone could stay right where it was.  Then I noticed a second frog in the water behind this same stone.  He, too, looked very black.

As I took these photographs, the frog opened his eyes as if to say, “Okay, that’s enough.  I’m ready to hibernate.  Please cover me back up and go away.”

111127 P1480908And so I did.

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Cat vs. bat

111112 P1480606I had just finished photographing some plants which were still blooming when I heard my cat calling to me.  He had that special call which says, “I’m so good!  Look at me.  I caught something wonderful and I want to show it to you.”

Oh my!  He had managed to catch a bat!  A little brown bat to be specific.  Although, in the photo above, it almost looks like the bat has caught the cat since its wings are covering the cat’s face.

111112 P1480608After dropping the bat in the yard, my cat seemed to be less interested in playing with it any more and was willing for me to perform a “bat rescue.”  I put the cat in the house and went back out to see if the bat might survive.

111112 P1480612I found the bat had been pretty severely injured and it would not / could not grab a twig I offered it.  I carefully wrapped it in leaves and placed it into the woods.  Even though it was relatively warm today, the night temperature was going to drop to freezing again.  I suspect the bat will not make it.

The only other question remaining was how did the cat capture the bat?  This particular cat loves to climb trees.  Perhaps he climbed a tree and disturbed a resting (beginning to hibernate?) bat.  Any movement from the bat would attract the cat’s attention and I suspect the bat would have been very slow to move since it was cool and sunny.

Rest in peace, little one.

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Rose hip harvesting

Rose hipI planted a rose bush (Rosa canina) a few years ago.  This year there were some lovely looking rose hips that I decided to harvest.  Then I was puzzled.  How do I “process” them?  A bit of Internet searching indicated it would be good to remove the “seeds with hairs.”

Well, I did not get around to this until after the hips had been drying on the counter for a long, long time.  When I did pick up the knife to slice a rose hip open, I found it was easy to cut.  And I found all those seeds . . . with lots of small hairs which felt like they could be really irritating.

Rose hips and seedsNow that I’ve studied this photo more closely, I see I need to go back and brush off the hairs even more from the hips.  I did nibble a tiny piece of rose hip while working with them and found it deliciously tart — as I had anticipated given its reported Vitamin C content.

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Muscadine harvest

MuscadineA month ago (above photo), the muscadine grapes started ripening.  As they ripened even more (photo below taken two weeks later) . . .

Muscadine . . . I began eating a few each day.  And recently, I had enough ripe muscadines to keep a bowlful at hand.

MuscadineI love the first burst of sweet flavor followed by lip-puckering tartness.  Spitting out the large seeds reminds me of eating watermelon.

Posted in Fruits, Harvest | 2 Comments

A gift of Jerusalem artichokes

111001 Jerusalem artichokeIt may not look like much at the moment . . . and . . . this is the new Jerusalem artichoke bed.  A friend gifted me with some surplus and, after checking with the Deva of the Garden about where to plant these, I dug up the soil in a fresh spot and planted.  Just wait until next year when I will be able to see the cheerful flowers from the house window.  And next fall I will have fresh Jerusalem artichokes to harvest.

We are now experiencing fall-like weather with wind and cooler temperatures.  So I took a tour of the garden to see how plants are faring as they prepare for the winter season.  I noticed the purple coneflower seed heads were ripe so I spread the seed in the new bed created this summer for them.  Then I noticed the lizard. . .

111001 Lizard on oxeye daisy leafCan you see it?  The lizard’s tail is on the ox-eye daisy leaf and the purple coneflower seed head is to the upper right.

The nasturtiums are doing well in the new cool hoop house bed.  I’ve been eating an occasional leaf when I stop by.

111001 NasturtiumThe comfrey is well established — after transplanting it in the heat of the summer from another friend’s “over-run with comfrey” bed.

111001 ComfreyThis leek looks good.  I wonder if I should harvest and eat it now . . . or let it over-winter?

111001 LeekAaahh . . . the wintergreen (teaberry) has lovely berries which are ripening.  They will be fun to eat during the winter.

111001 Wintergreen (teaberry) #2I planted two of these wintergreen plants about three years ago.  They have spread nicely and I’m looking forward to their completely covering this particular garden bed in the future.

Posted in Conscious nature collaboration, Flowers, Herbs, Vegetable garden | 2 Comments

Colorful beans

110827 Brown green beans #2I love the look of these beans with all their varied hues.  They are actually the same type of bean: Kentucky Wonder green bean seeds.  As they dry out, they turn from light green to tan in color.  I expect to use them for planting next year.  Here are some more colorful bean seeds I’ve gathered and dried for planting in the future.

110827 Tigers eye beansTiger’s Eye — a type of pinto  bean.

110827 Golden lumen beansGolden Lumen — a type of wax bean.

110827 Peking black crowder peas #9And Peking Black — a type of crowder pea.

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