First of June on the Fox Lake Road

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And now here it is, the second of June.

I had barely typed the title and was waiting for the photo to download when my little dog let out a cry. I don’t know what hurt or frightened her, but I picked her up, and she proceeded to fall asleep on my lap.

I have a simple “hunt and peck” method of typing that I developed myself (not that it’s much to brag about, really). I use both hands, and a total of three or four fingers to punch the keys;  I’ve gotten pretty speedy at it.

Take away one hand, though – as when a dog is sleeping soundly with her little head cradled in the crook of my arm – and I’m useless.

I was tired, too.

I decided my “first of June” report could wait another day.

Wanting to capture the feeling of the first of June, I had taken a couple photos in the rain, from the shelter of the doorway. That alone limited the viewpoint. I couldn’t avoid the pallet leaning against the compost barrel or the white plastic five-gallon buckets filled with roots and weeds. On top of that, it was nearly dusk, and my little camera, set to automatically make those decisions, could not decide whether to flash or not. Raindrops on the lens altered the view.

I did not get good photos.

Still, I eschewed nice photos taken last week – in May – as terribly outdated in this ever-changing Spring. I decided that using photographs taken last June would be underhanded deceit, and I refused to resort to it.

I chose the best current photo to post, and started the download. That usually takes about 30 seconds. I had waited more than five minutes  when I decided to take my little dog and go to bed.

Beginning again this morning, that photo still refuses to come up.

Is my computer now making judgments about my photography skills?

Can I write a blog without an illustration?

We’ll see.

Yesterday, the first of June, was also Sunday, which marks the end of my work week in town.

Mondays, I can usually sleep in if I want to. I can write if I choose to. Then, I try to catch up on housework and yard work and laundry. Tuesdays, I devote to paperwork and phone-calls relating to my job regarding invasive species. Wednesday is for finishing up everything I didn’t finish on Monday and Tuesday, plus the day that I go to clean the floors at my aunt’s farmhouse. Evenings almost every day, from dinnertime until bedtime, I usually spend in the studio. Deadlines abound, and I’m usually behind with most of them.

The garden makes me feel anxious this time of year. So much to do! Soon, I know, it will be too late to plant. Soon, I will be too busy for it. The groundwork has to be laid early, for an easy-care growing space, or I will be frustrated all summer long, watching the weeds take over. I’ve been plugging away at it: digging and raking and hoeing, pulling weeds and hauling away debris. I rented a rototiller this year, and hired  a young man to work up the large vegetable area and the weed-choked pathways between the perennial beds.

Yesterday, with rain predicted for the first of the week, I was determined to plant.

I like to have my seeds in before the mosquitoes hatch. I have already missed that deadline this year, and the little vampires are out in force.

Sunday is a short work day; I could be home by three PM.

“My goal,” I told anyone who would listen, “is to get my entire garden planted today, before the rain comes.”

Some said, “You’ll never make it.” Others offered more hope, or at least, “Good luck!”

I went home armed with bug repellant, cedar stakes and garden twine.

I changed into short pants, a T-shirt and slip-on shoes. I put on a layer of sunscreen, then bug repellant oil to my face, ears and scalp, then an all-over spray of the “deep woods” formula.

I moved the outdoor table to my “staging” area. There, unloaded the twine, stakes and bug repellant. I brought the toolbox out, for hammer, tape measure and anything else I might find that I would need. I carried out the garden tote with hand tools and seeds. One big citronella candle, a reference book, a note pad and pencil and a pair of scissors. A big cup of coffee. My large tools leaned against the side, buckets and wheelbarrow at the ready. What else could I possibly need?

Time to get started!

First the rake, to smooth out the soil and remove the roots and weeds that the tiller turned under.

Measure. Stake. Link the stakes with garden twine. Make a furrow. Plant the seeds.

Every now and then a pause…to consult my book on companion planting, to reapply mosquito dope, to jot down notes, lest I forget what is where.

First, three hills of pumpkins against the back fence. The seed was old, so I over-planted, and used an area that wouldn’t take away from my staple vegetables.

Next, a row of onion sets. I planted thickly, as I’ll thin to use through the season, making room for some to grow into “winter-keepers.”

Then rain.

Wait a bit, to see if it will stop. Is it something I can work through?

No.

Let the dogs in first: Clover’s terror of rainstorms makes the little dog nervous, too.

Bring in the toolbox, the garden tote, the books and papers. Make another run to grab the scissors and twine. One more for the coffee…now cold and diluted.

But the rain didn’t last! My heart soared!

Five-thirty…still a couple hours of daylight.

Out with the toolbox; out with the garden tote. Another fogging with mosquito repellent…add a hat…and a face net.

Try again.

A row of collards because they are easier to grow than head cabbage but offer the same flavor for soups.

A row of Swiss chard…because since Aunt Katie taught me how good it is, I can’t ever get enough.

Rake and measure for the next row.

Six-thirty. I looked at two miserable dogs: bored, too warm and bothered by bugs.

“Would you like to take a ride?”

They jumped at the opportunity!

Me, with a thick layer of garden dirt clinging to my skin and clothes, the dogs, with wagging tails and big doggy grins, loaded into the car and headed for water. Windows down for the rain-freshened air and the breeze, two and a half miles to the access point for Fox Lake.

We had the beach to ourselves. I enjoyed the breeze that was keeping biting insects away, the view, and the sight of the dogs in their glory. They explored. They sniffed around the fire pit and picnic area, every beached boat and ‘most every tree in the clearing. They chased a chipmunk and then a black squirrel. They waded in the lake.

When we headed home, tired and happy, I told myself, “I can plant tomorrow.”

It stormed through the night. It has rained already again this morning. Right now, the sun is peaking out. Maybe I can!

And now, finally, here’s that photograph!

june2014 002

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7 responses »

  1. The little vampires…lol. That’s a good name for them! The beach sounds wonderful. You gotta have some fun between all the summer chores and your many jobs.

    • Yes! I get too caught up on getting things “finished”…as if there is ever really a stopping point. I have to learn to embrace the process, and pause for pleasure now and then. I bet you have a big crop of mosquitoes up there this year, too, after all of the snow!

  2. Gee you are really busy but that is a good thing but not to the point of feeling stressed. It’s wonderful that you can take the time to relax with the dogs on the beach. But gee those bug sound really awful. I love you garden. I have mine fenced but it’s not as high as yours. Swiss chard is good. Really, really good and it grows so easily and takes the the place of spinach which is harder to grow. I have not planted any this year but I think I still can-maybe.

    • I AM busy! I don’t like the stress of it. One job…that I can leave at the end of the day and not think of again…would be plenty for me. But, obligations, bills, etc…you know the routine! I had to fence my garden because the deer thought I was just another stop on the gravy train. I was lucky to get the cedar posts for free, and the fencing is plastic deer fence – less than 75.00 for the whole roll. It tears easily, but it can be repaired with twine and it does keep the deer out. Thanks, Yvonne!

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