Tag Archives: lawn

Rain Today?

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There was talk of rain moving in yesterday. It came, but not until late afternoon. It didn’t last, but the temperature dropped and the wind came up. That, combined with the few sprinkles, was enough to bring me back inside. Today, it’s still up in the air.

Will it rain? The day dawned bright, but the sun is hidden behind a cloudy sky. The air is moist; mosquitoes are out in force. It feels like it is going to rain. If it rains, I have indoor plans that far exceed the hours in this day. There is banking and bill-paying and bookkeeping to do. I am behind in my writing. House-keeping has been neglected except for the bare necessities on busy days that included garden work. I could take an entire day just to catch up! The studio calls to me, with projects underway and ideas in my head. A whole day in the studio would be heavenly!

If it is not going to rain, the yard and garden will have my attention. Yesterday, I placed my newly constructed raised bed in place, lined it with weed barrier, filled it with soil, and transplanted strawberries. I have – after many evenings spent with diagrams, garden books and graph paper – decided where I can fit asparagus and raspberries in my new -smaller – garden. It’s now just a matter of staking out the perimeter and doing the transplanting.

Then, it is more than time to get working in the actual vegetable garden. Though it’s not too late to plant – bean seeds could wait another two weeks here on Beaver Island – it is definitely time, especially for the cool-weather lettuce, spinach, chard and peas. The frequent rains have taken the “fluff” out of my newly tilled garden spot, and allowed the roots of weeds and grasses to take hold once again. It needs to be attended to with hoe and rake, to get it back in shape. Then, the rows could be staked, and many seeds planted.

The grass, as I look out my back window, is more than knee high in places. There have been good days for mowing, that I have chosen garden work instead. There have been many days that I had the time, but the weather didn’t cooperate. There were many long days when I simply didn’t have the energy. It can’t be put off much longer!

So, the only question today, as I pour my third cup of coffee, is “will it rain…or not?”

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Riding in Cars with Dogs

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On the way home from work on Sunday afternoon, faced with the balance of the day plus two days off, my mind runs through the possibilities.

I considered bringing some plants home, the sorry, leftover specimens that have been too long in their starter pots: tomatoes, peppers, cabbages and eggplant. Could I dig up a patch of garden yet? What about that sweet peach tree, with tiny fuzzy fruits already on its branches? How nice it would be to spend the day in the garden! I sensibly – though with remorse – talked myself out of it. Too much to do, to allow myself to go off in another direction.

The entire lawn needs mowing, but the back yard – that didn’t get done last week – is desperately in need of it. I brought home 50 feet of rope, with intention of restringing my clothesline.  It was a nice warm day with a slight breeze: a good day to wash sheets and dry them outside! A good day, too,  to shake out the rugs and open all the windows, give the floors a good sweeping and get the cobwebs out of the corners.

I have several hours (days??) of writing and computer work to do. I have stacks of notes from meetings and interviews to turn into stories. I have others to edit and organize. There are letters to write and phone calls to answer. The subscriber database always needs updating as the checks or changes of address come in the mail. I need to set up a filing system for advertisers, and bill out the classified ads. If I were to get all of that done in a timely fashion, my taxes are still waiting to be filed.

The studio, yes, a dozen things to do there, and the back closet where I started sorting seasonal clothes, and the kitchen cupboards to get ready for the new counter top, and weeding, dead-heading and watering the flower beds…by the time I got home, I was exhausted just from thinking about it!

The dogs greeted me when I got home. I made a sandwich, and wandered the yard while I ate it. It really was a beautiful day. Chance of rain or thunderstorms for Monday.

“Do you want to take a ride?” I asked.

Darla jumped up from where she was laying in the grass. Rosa Parks gave a series of yips as she ran for the car. I grabbed the can of mosquito repellent, my camera, a book, and one bottle of beer.

“Let’s go!”

Darla jumps in first, and takes the passenger seat in front. Her posture is impeccable as she sits tall watching out the windows. I pick up Rosa Parks and take the driver’s seat. Rosa scrambles across to position herself on my lap, with her nose out the window, her chin resting on my left arm. Darla smiles benignly across at me, to let me know that she believes that spot on my lap should be hers, but that she’ll make the sacrifice.

It’s one and a half miles to Fox Lake, down a barely traveled, narrow gravel road. The breeze is nice. Every now and then, I point out a bird or squirrel or chipmunk. If they were on foot, they’d be very interested. Riding in the car, they pay no attention to the wildlife. They know when I come to the drive that leads down to the lake. They murmur and shake in anticipation. If I accidentally drive past it, they turn to look back. Still, they each politely hold their places until the car is parked, and I open the door to let them out.

The lake is an adventure unto itself, with water for wading and new smells to investigate. For me, it’s an hour of blissful relaxation. The ride home is a repeat of the trip there, only in reverse…and more damp. No matter what’s on the to-do list, riding in cars with dogs is an excellent way to spend an afternoon!

 

Sky, Water

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“None of them knew the color of the sky.”

So begins Steven Crane’s short story, “The Open Boat.” It’s a story of survivors of a shipwreck, clinging to life in a small, open boat on the ocean. It is based on true events; the author was one of the passengers in that small boat. His first line speaks perfectly to the hopelessness of the situation…to not be aware, even, of the sky.

The broad expanse of sky brings me calm. At my house, surrounded by woods, to appreciate the sky, I have to crane my neck. That detracts from the soothing effects of sky-watching. To get the long view, on this fairly flat, wooded island, it’s best to go to the water. There, the vision stretches to the horizon, and sky and water work their magic.

Yesterday seemed a long, hard day for me. It was busy at the hardware store. My day was interrupted only by trips to the post office and the bank, and to make a quick delivery. After work, I filled a couple newsstands with my magazine, then picked up a few groceries. Rounding the corner to head out of town, I saw a customer approaching the door of the hardware. I stopped.

“Do you need something?” I asked.

“Yes! I do. I thought you were open until six…”

I turned off the car, and opened the hardware. We looked for a prescription for her cat without success. We found the right bags of food for each of her dogs. I rang up her purchases and helped her carry them to her car.

Home, I let the dogs out, then unloaded the car. My thermos and coffee cup, one box of groceries, one stack of mail. I put away the perishables, changed shoes, doused myself in mosquito repellent and headed back outside.

A little weeding in the flower beds, then I pulled the mower out of the shed, filled it up with gas and fired it up. The grass was growing wildly fast, and the front half of the front yard had not been cut yet this year. Rain had slowed my efforts to work at it each night. If I didn’t get to it soon, it would take something much larger and more powerful than my little push mower to tackle it. I’d see how much I could get done.

I start by mowing a swath around the perimeter, then work my way inward, around and around. Up the north side of the property where the big maple trees grow, to the curved edge that runs along the little woods in front of the road on the west. Across the driveway, to catch all the stray grass that grows there, and along the edge of the small side yard. Down the south border to the rough un-mowable patch by the shed, then turn and go back across the driveway at the other end. When I come to an obstruction – tree, rock, tree stump or fire pit, I go around it with the mower, and from then on, go around it in ever-bigger circles each time I pass. What starts as a loose rectangular course with curved sides soon morphs into quite a different pattern. Always different.

Eventually, the smaller lawn on the south side of the driveway was complete. I had a large circle of mowed grass around the fire pit. That left a long hourglass shaped section of tall grass yet to  be mowed. The dogs got up from their resting places and moved toward me in unison. They each seemed to sigh as they flung themselves dramatically in my path.

Okay. It was after seven o’clock. The dogs usually eat at around six-thirty. Their day had been long, too. I turned off the mower and put it away.

“Ride?” I asked.

They both thought that was a good idea. Windows down to the summer breeze, we drove to Fox Lake. I parked the car and let the dogs out to run.

I stand, facing the lake. Let my eyes rest over the water where the far row of trees meets the sky. Lazily follow the slight movement of the clouds. Breathe in; breathe out. Let the cool breeze carry the tension away. Feel shoulders relax, worries drift away. Think only, “sky…water…” and hopelessness is gone.

 

 

 

Fresh Snow and Trivia

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Fresh snow this morning!

I am so happy to see it!

It’s not the first, this year. We’ve had snow, cold and icy, clinging to the windshields, making roads difficult and reminding us that winter is on its way to Beaver Island.

This is the first “fluffy” snow.

This snow has power.

It has already softened the landscape. You almost wouldn’t know that I didn’t get my garden clean-up done. It’s no longer obvious that my lawn hasn’t been mowed since late August…and now it won’t be, either, until springtime! It’s impossible to tell that there are leaves under that snow, that I never got around to raking up.

This snow has greatly improved the look of my “to-do” list, just by blanketing all of the undone tasks in soft white.

It has also changed my outlook.

I’m starting to look forward to the holidays. I’m thinking of the inside activities that this weather is good for: reading, writing and art-making. I’m thinking of comfort foods: soups and stews and casseroles. Baking, for the warmth of having the oven going, and all the goodness that brings. Sleeping under layers of comforters and quilts. I’m thinking of all the little projects around the house that I didn’t have time for in the summer. It’s time now!

Today, after work, I’m heading for the Stoney Acre Grill to meet friends. Today, we play Pub Trivia! We have our own Powers’ Hardware team, and there is some good competition. It’s all good-natured competition, though, and it benefits a good cause, the Beaver Island Food Pantry.  It’s going to be a good day!

Summertime…

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“…and the livin’ is easy…”

I love that song. Every word, every sentiment.

It brings me, in my imagination, to a breezy screened room with a sturdy wicker chair and a tall, cool drink. Looking out, of course, on a perfectly groomed lawn and garden. The sun is shining. No obligations hang over me. Warm and comfortable, I may just doze right here.

Real life is a little more hectic, for me, here on Beaver Island in the summertime.

My granddaughter, Madeline, and I went to a concert last weekend.

Claudia Schmidt is a former employer and a dear friend of mine, as well as a wonderful musician and singer. She used to live here on Beaver Island, and it’s always lovely when she makes it back. She performed at the Community Center last Saturday evening.

We dressed for the occasion. Madeline chose the “very similar to the styles that Taylor Swift wears” dress that she’d worn for her own recital (she plays stand up bass). The sash was a bit frayed from the wash, but was elegant nonetheless. I wore the gauzy, tie-dyed “summer of love” dress that I’d purchased when visiting Florida with my sisters. Unaccustomed to wearing dresses of any kind, I managed to briefly flash the people in seats behind me while trying to disentangle my flowing dress from the folding theater seat. Fortunately, my grandmotherly underpants and sixty-year-old fanny caused only laughter, and the evening continued shamelessly.

Claudia intersperses her concerts with anecdotes, reminiscences and commentary. A poet at heart, these bits of information are generally heartfelt, thoughtful and thought-provoking.

One thing she spoke about this time was “Busy.”

That has become the stock answer to any questions regarding how things are going or what one is up to. It’s not an answer, really, but a definition of a condition.

“Busy.”

“Busy, busy, busy!”

“Bizzy!”

It starts to sound like gibberish after a while, she noted.

She avoids that answer, on principle.

To instead answer, “Nothing,” when asked, “What have you been up to?” has value for the looks of horror it evokes.

“What?! NOTHING??”

Generally, though, when activities seem overwhelming, her answer is, “I am living a rich and very full life.”

Wonderful!

So, as I look out from my messy desk on this Monday in July, onto a lawn that needs mowing and a garden that needs tending, trying to plan my week that involves three outside jobs, preparing for and attending an art event, finishing a commission piece for a very patient client, making some progress on housework and yard work, sending out resumes and letters of interest for possible employment, a trip to the mainland to visit the Secretary of State, paying bills that have been ignored too long, repairing my washing machine and finding time for some worthwhile and memory-making activities with my granddaughter, I say…

“This summer, I am living a rich and very full life!”

One More Crazy Day

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This is me, as interpreted by my granddaughter, Madeline.

This is exactly the look I have on my face today.

I can feel the tension in my jaw, the wild eyes, the grimace.

Deadlines loom, in the Spring of the year.

The need to do  too many things immediately has me stopped, unable to move in any direction, because I can’t go in all directions at once.

It’s my own fault, of course. I have taken on too much, set my sights too high, let in too many diversions and wasted too  much time.

Yesterday was a bonus day off, that I was going to use to catch up on everything. I had to go to town in the morning, to attend a meeting with my aunt. Afterward, I stopped at the little gallery  that carries my work in the summertime, to help repair a couple frames. I picked up mail, and went to the grocery store to stock my kitchen cupboards. Home, then, with the best of intentions. After greeting the dogs, I unloaded the car and put away groceries. I changed into gardening clothes. I made lunch: energy for the work ahead. I grabbed a beer, and headed out. It was too hot (TOO HOT! In May! On Beaver Island!)to work outside in the middle of the day.

That couldn’t be true.

I emptied the wheelbarrow. I pulled a few weeds.

No, really, too hot.

The dogs were languishing in holes they’d made in one shady corner of the flower bed.

Okay.

I put the drip hose in the flower bed, grabbed a book, loaded the dogs in the car and went to the lake.

The public access to Fox Lake is about two miles from my house. There is an array of rental boats on the shore, a little spot for a tent or two, a campfire circle and a picnic table.  Snapping turtles and loons can often be seen in the water.

While the dogs, wagging tails, checked out the new smells and tried out the water, I finished my book and my beer. There was a nice little breeze in the shade of the trees that line the shore. Birds were singing and dragonflies were flitting around. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

I’m paying for it today.

Today was my day to get the lawn mowed. It still is. But, added to that is my almost entire list of outdoor  work I was planning to do yesterday. The list was too long anyway, and it was unreasonable to believe I could finish it all, even if I’d devoted the entire day to it.

Still.

There is only so much time, in the Spring of the year, to get everything done, before I just have to give it up. I can’t plant seeds in July and have any hope of a harvest. I can’t transplant anything once their blossoms have started showing. I can’t mow my tall grass if it’s wet from a rain…and I’ve heard it might rain tonight. I’ve cut back on my garden plan, adjusted my goals for this year, and still I’m behind. I’m almost ready to cry “Uncle”! But not quite yet.

I’ll see how today pans out.