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Summer 2013

August 13, 2013

This summer has gone somewhere, though I’m not entirely sure where. I can tell by my hands that I’ve been working. A few of my fingertips are so cut and calloused that my fingerprint swirls seem to be changing direction, accommodating these new scars. There are burns on my knuckles and even a stretch of skin healing where I swiped myself with a rotary cutter blade. The inside edge of my right index finger, no matter how hard I scrub, is etched with soil from a summer spent with my hands in our garden or my fingers wrapped around weeds in our front yard. And my nails. Well, I’ve just started putting my hands in my pockets most of the time.

All this to say, my hands tell a story of work, but I don’t have much to weave a story around. My bee and butterfly garden is still taking root and filling out, but it’s nothing impressive. There have been a few bees bumbling around and we’ve had visits from some butterflies, but none have taken up residence as I’d hoped. This swallowtail caterpillar greeted us when we got back from vacation a few weeks ago. A buddy of his was a few feet down, devouring another of our dill host plants. I took pictures, felt giddy, celebrated what I saw as my success and planned to watch them morph into butterflies. But by the next morning they were both gone, having only stopped by briefly to eat our dill before moving on (or before getting eaten by a bird).

swallotail

dill

Our tomatoes are in a permanent state of arrested development; they have not grown or ripened for over a month despite my encouragement, but our Brussels Sprouts are turning into something delicious. And I’ve managed to fend off multiple attacks by cabbage worms keeping these sprouting plants safe. These are by far my favorite veggie, but I won’t eat them if grown conventionally and so the precious few stalks in our garden will be my fix for the year.

brussels sprouts

We’ve also learned some lessons on growing cauliflower. I now understand how to tie up the heads to blanch them and understand why it ┬ámakes a difference. Really, it makes a difference. I’m sure you can tell the good from the bad.

bad cauliflower

good cauliflower

And then there are the butterfly-attracting plants that I’m falling in love with. They may not have lured the butterflies yet, but they’ve got my full attention. From far away they are lovely, but closeup their shapes and colors astound me. The white flowers of the butterfly bush turn from compact squares into delicate flowers. The magenta star-shaped buds of the milkweed plant erupt into orange claws. Every night I find myself out in the garden, crawling around and discovering something new.

butterfly bush

mikweed buds

Milkweed

So, not much to tell, but that’s been summer for me. What about you? Show me or tell me of yours.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2013 10:36 am

    Those flowers are so amazing! If I were a butterfly, I would totally live there.

    Love your other stuff, too. Wish I liked brussels sprouts. :(

    • Claire permalink*
      August 13, 2013 5:44 pm

      I knew nothing of Brussels sprouts until two summers ago. Split them in half, rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and sear until brown. Then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Maybe, just maybe trying them that way would help you enjoy them? :)

  2. Sara Daly Brosman permalink
    August 13, 2013 11:58 am

    Your writing and photos leave me at peace …. wish more of us took the time to explore those amazing things that confront us everyday. Thanks for a few minutes of bliss.

    • Claire permalink*
      August 13, 2013 5:46 pm

      Thanks. I was trying to help myself feel less defeated by all the gardening failures that surround me. At least there are some successes to balance things out!

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