Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Priorities ...

This good looking fellow and his wife have been hanging out at our bird feeder all winter along with several other cardinal pairs, blue jays, titmice, chickadees and woodpeckers. In the past years I've kept the feeders up all year, but sadly this year I'm not going to do that. I quit midstream last summer when I realized the feeders were bringing the deer into the yard. Besides eating birdseed they love hostas, lilies and my veggies. I will miss the bird families bringing their young to the feeder just outside my kitchen window in June and July, but hopefully I'll be able to harvest more food from the garden for my table.

I'm really getting excited about the coming spring and summer and fresh vine ripened tomatoes, juicy melons, peaches, strawberries and corn. I must be getting tired of winter squash and the like. I do try to eat with the seasons and locally as well. Yesterday I found fresh local swiss chard and romaine lettuce at one of our health food stores ... green house grown but still local!

This past Sunday we attended a pot luck supper at which the hostess served a wonderful angel food cake with whipped cream, fresh blueberries, raspberries, melons, grapes, etc. It was heavenly and I realized how much I miss those fruits during the winter. Sure they are out there but what is available now is flown in from South America and Mexico and of course are very pricey, both dollar wise and jet fuel wise. What's a fresh fruit lover to do???

Today at Whole Foods besides the berries from our southern hemisphere, there was rhubarb from Holland. And I overheard a brief conversation about which European butter is the best. The woman asking admitted that she is a "butter snob." Tempted as I was to grab some of the rhubarb, I passed it up, remembering that it won't be too long now before rhubarb will be coming in to the markets from a closer source.

I think about our planet and the damage we're doing and just wish we could all muster the grace to try and make this global warming thing a top priority. According to recent polls, since the financial meltdown in this country and President Obama's inauguration, global warming has dropped off the charts of what is important to most Americans. We are all of course really stressed and concerned about "right now" and how to keep our jobs and put food on our tables. Who can blame us? But isn't it time to consider that without a healthy planet all of us will suffer, especially all those cute 1st and 2nd graders who visit Whole Foods on field trips every week so that they can learn about food and nutrition?? What about some good old nutrition for the planet and getting away from our addiction to gas and oil??

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Beautiful World ...

It isn't as warm as it a was a week or so ago, but it isn't too bad, either ... in the mid 40's and lovely. I watched the yard filled with robins hunting and pecking for earth worms while I ate my lunch. I started dreaming ... about building a cold frame. I found great directions for all sorts through google. I'll be able to grow greens and lettuces most of the year if I do it right. Also I want to make a worm bin. My compost pile slows way down over the winter so I'm planning a small worm farm in a cool, dark corner of my basement where I'll be able to feed them my kitchen scraps all winter long and throughout the year. In return they will provide me with rich worm castings which is heavenly for the garden. Makes everything grow wonderfully. I had one out doors a long time ago and it was great fun.

The daffodils are up and some even have fat buds that look like they might pop open in the next few weeks. The pussy willows are beginning to show their little furry buds and the forsythia seems to be coming back to life.

I've already found ticks on the dogs. It seems that though it has been very cold at times this winter, those times haven't been long enough to keep tick numbers down. As soon as a warm day arrives they come out. This is the earliest I've ever found them. Usually I start finding them in April and they can last through November and even into December.

Even with things like a bad economy, war, ticks and poison ivy, we sure do live in a beautiful world! Hope you are enjoying it as much as I do!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February ...

Two days ago it was 72 degrees and just glorious! Yesterday, 10 degrees cooler and still glorious! Today a tad cooler and still gorgeous! If this is February what are June, July and August going to be like?

This lovely bloom is the flower of our common Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). We planted this tree 3 years ago and despite the heat and the drought of summer it is doing beautifully. As a native of this area it is very adaptable and will grow in wet soil or very dry soil. This is the time of year it blooms for us and seems to fill this month before the arrival of spring
with wild anticipation!

The bark and leaves of this shrub are used medicinally as an astringent in the treatment of bruises, hemorrhoids and other skin conditions by reducing swelling and relieving pain. It is said that in tincture or tea form it can be used with myrrh and cloves for sore throats and laryngitis; a tea with goldenseal and calendula when applied to the outer ear will treat swimmer's ear.

More about herbs and herbal remedies can be found on my other blog:
Rivanna River Herbal

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Weather Change ...

You know what they say: If you don't like the weather just wait a minute!

This is Molly enjoying her daily bake in the sun last Monday when it was warm and very spring like with a temperature near 60 degrees. In just three hours later, the sun was gone and the temperature dropped 22 degrees. Dressed in light clothing I had to quickly put on a heavy sweater and wool socks! Hot tea and a cozy read in front of the gas fire was just the ticket!
By 10 PM when it was time to put the dogs out for their last potty break, it was snowing!
Our first snow of the winter! Sure maybe a few flakes fell last week but it quickly turned to freezing rain. These days snow in this neighborhood is a big event.

When I woke up on Tuesday the sun was again shining but the world had been transformed by about 3/4 of an inch of fluffy snow. I rushed outside to take it all in and felt like a child again, ready to build a snowman and make snow angels. However, it was melting quickly and
there was only enough time to snap a few photos to remind me in the heat of August that winter will come and it will be cold again!

It's all just a memory now. There are still patches of the white stuff here and there and it has been bitterly cold since. Despite the wind, Molly still insists upon her daily bake. The snow melts quickly in her favorite spot and she seems to be as comfy as can be. This weekend it's supposed to be near 60 degrees again!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Frozen River ...

Big Blue Fishing In The Shallows, 2/1/09

The river has been frozen for about 10 days.
Today with a temperature of 59 degrees at noon, it began to melt along the edges.
Because it is such a glorious day, I spent several hours this morning beginning my annual attack on the kudzu that proliferates along the shores. I am told that when this very small subdivision
I live in was first divided, all of the lots were a tangle of kudzu and honey suckle.
Most of it is gone now except for right along the river bank where when we first arrived on this shore, elderberry shrubs were in abundance. Over the years the kudzu has killed
these medicine rich shrubs and so I decided several years ago that I would try my best to keep the kudzu at bay. Some think I am crazy, but I enjoy the work and find great satisfaction in seeing the results that 2 hours of cutting and hacking away at this stubborn plant can do. Last spring after a similar attack on my part, the elderberries began to reappear.
So I keep at it.

As I worked, the river spoke
in burps and belches
as the ice began to warm in the sun.
Later, Big Blue arrived to fish in the shallows.
About a week ago I watched him as he sat on the dock,
the river frozen solid all around him. I tried to imagine his hunger
and wondered what he fed on during a time like this. He looked quite disgruntled
and flew off without hanging around long enough for me to take his picture.
Today he stayed put for quite a while and I hope he got to fill his belly.