Monday, September 2, 2013

Turning the Page to September

Ironweed grows unhindered in the pasture next door.
It is undoubtedly invasive, but an interesting plant.
I've noticed that wildflowers of springtime are delicate, pastel in coloring.
Summer brings vivid yellows, bright pink and fuchia.
With autumn come the deeper, richer colors which are my favorites:  burnished gold and bronze,
rich wine-y purples, darkest claret red, coppery russets.
I was born a few days before the vernal equinox, but autumn is the season in which I glory.

Mourning doves line up on the electrical wires that lead from the power pole in the meadow.

Each year I marvel that the ancient pear tree in the north meadow still stands.
These side branches are heavily weighted with fruit and leaning ground-wards.

J. packed last Monday for an 8 day vacation with his brothers, their wives, and his younger sister.
Bobby appropriated a suitcase and offered his help.
I've not accomplished much of the glorious list of tasks I had planned for myself while I have the luxury of 
'time to myself.'
It may be that the list was overly ambitious--it may be that I am getting lazy with advancing age!

Each summer here I've planted nasturtiums--one of my favorite annuals.
Each year they have failed to thrive.
During the month of August I was pleased to have a few blooms.
On Monday when I went out to water, this was the devastation that awaited me.
I snatched up the spray which J. uses on the worst garden pests and took a certain grim delight in watching the green caterpillars [offspring of the white cabbage butterfly] writhe.

I picked the last of the grapes on Monday, sweating, hot and cross before I finished.
Clambering about under the arbor, vines and twigs pulled swatches of hair loose from my braid. 
It immediately stuck damply to my face, hung in front of my glasses.
Inside, I pulled the grapes from the stems and plunged them into cool water in the sink while I retreated to the shower, having turned the A/C up a notch.
J. brought in a larger harvest of grapes the week previous, which I bottled in the time-honored method of stewing the grapes, straining off the juice and adding sugar to the hot liquid.
J.'s Mom and his Aunt Dot put up grapes by packing two cups into a quart jar, adding sugar and boiling water, then processing in a water bath canner.
It is far less time-consuming and messy than making strained juice.
While I was 'putting up' the grapes, our Amish neighbor, Joe Yoder, came in with J.
He stated this is how his mother dealt with the grape harvest on their Ontario, Canada farm 
where he was raised.
The grapes were bottled in larger jars for his big family and he remembered that his mother 'watered down' the juice after pouring it out.

Another quilt finished during the endless hot days of August.
This is, predictably, a variation of Log Cabin blocks--stitched in a chevron.
Although these are quality fabrics from my 'stash' I wasn't pleased with the way the quilt was developing--not enough of the right fabrics to arrange a light to dark progression in each block.
G. arrived to look over my shoulder as I was debating whether to continue with the quilt.
She pounced upon it and claimed it for her own, so I finished it.
I had no suitable material for a border, but found the purple rose-printed yardage at the quilter's shop.
The manufacturer's logo on the selvage dated it to 1999, so you can tell that the stock in that shop 
is not current.
I finished the binding by machine and duly presented it to G. for her 'collection.'

A brave clump of golden gloriosa daisies--you can see the much lamented weedy growth surrounding them.

A swath of cosmos--they don't seem to mind the heat.
I'll be gathering seed pods soon.

Many of the sunflowers were laid low by wind and rain in July. I will leave a few standing seed heads for the gold finches, and gather seeds from the prettiest of the bi-colors.
Sunflower seed stays viable for a number of years.
I surely have enough seed to plant a huge plot.

The cats don't enjoy the heat any more than I do.
Willis and the 'boys' who have indoor/outdoor privileges, have been happy to loll about in the house for most of the day.
The curtains have been drawn and the A/C faithfully [and expensively!] laboring to keep the house at a bearable temperature.
The cats arise, stretch and demand 'out' as evening arrives.
Willis and Nellie sprawl on the big rock in the yard.

Asked to pose for a photo session, Willis becomes bored and testy.

Saturday evening brought suddenly darkening skies, a boom of thunder, and, finally, a twilight burst of rain.
I thought the rain had ceased when I went to bed a bit  before eleven.
I awoke early on Sunday to a sodden morning.
It had obviously rained quite heavily in the night, more rain than our easily clogged storm drain can handle.
Our basement is made of cement blocks and a downpour always brings some seepage.
The cat's litter boxes are lined along the north wall in the unfinished part of the basement.
They were quick to protest the damp floor.
I sighed, hauled on my boots, cleaned floor and freshened litter before going outside to poke at the 
storm drain.
I noted with surprise the large puddle behind where I had parked the truck.
The 'boys' were all having a good slurp from the puddle.

The rain has come too late, I fear, for the soybeans which were planted within days of the belated wheat harvest. The greater financial loss will be for the crop farmer who leases this field.
We didn't have a monetary investment in this crop--as we did in the wheat--but our share from a corn or soybean harvest is happily anticipated. This has been a capricious summer of weather.

The mist began to 'burn off' a bit toward noon, but the day--thankfully--remained about 10 degrees cooler than the temperatures of the past exhausting month.

Our Amish neighbors headed to 'church'--which is held turn-about in Amish homes.

Cleome by the big rock--sprawled after a night of rain.

Last Tuesday evening--with the thermometer stuck at a steamy 89 F, I brandished the loppers and trimmed down the nandina which borders the front porch.
The blossoms and the scarlet berries which brighten the winter months grow on new wood, so ideally pruning should be done in spring.
I missed the moment this year and the nandina have, like every other plant, flourished in the moist climate of June and July.  Those nearest the porch leaned inward, grasping at us as we walked along.
I was ruthless in my clipping, but there are berries left to redden and to cheer the winter landscape.

The morning has slipped away as I wrote and there are chores to be done before I shower and dress a bit more presentably.
Off to pull on my boots and pretend to efficiency!


  1. Great post and G. is blessed to have her mother be a quilter. I bet her collection is wonderful.

    I am so ready for cooler weather. This month can be pretty brutal with heat and humidity yet though.

    Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

    1. Lorraine; I've been in Florida during September and October--it was still plenty warm! Thinking of you this morning as I struggled to weed an over-grown patch of garden.

  2. A lovely post as always. You have a talent for setting the atmosphere, which is a delight.
    Autumn is my favourite season too and I love all the same colours as you. In fact I took great pleasure in pulling all the "autumn colour" clothes out of my wardrobe this morning.
    Your quilt is beautiful, I do like the chevron setting.

    1. Kath; I think you and I--given the chance--would each pounce happily on bits of fabric from the others' stash! It would all blend.
      The variations for Log Cabin quilts are intriguing--its why I keep making them.

  3. Replies
    1. Briony; Cats can make the oddest places look so comfortable!

  4. So sorry about your nasturtiums. They are something that grow so easily in this country. I wonder what it is about your climate that hinders their growth. Lovely to see all your pictures especially that one of your neighbours. I find the Amish life fascinating.

    1. Em; I can't think why nasturtiums have proved difficult here--I should think they'd like hot weather.
      Regarding the Amish--we've developed a rather different take on their lifestyle after getting acquainted with some of the area families. The plight of the women is especially hard. Children are given a very meager education and since this is not a community of farming Amish, the men have to take whatever menial jobs they can find to support their typically large families.
      That said, the Amish network of helping and lending assistance to one another is to be admired.

  5. We are well into cooler weather now, especially in the mornings, and I have felt the first fingers of autumn reaching out since mid-August. We only had your heat (and humidity presumably) back in July.

    Lovely to see your garden and surroundings. My garden is ahead of me (what's new?!) but I hope to catch up with it soon.

    Love the photo of Willis and Nellie draped over that rock.

    1. Jennie; I have shall have to make use of your phrase--'the garden is ahead of me!'
      Willis is such a funny cat--we are always finding him folded into odd places.

  6. I LOVE the quilt also. It is very soft and feminine. I think you did a beautiful job, please don't beat yourself up. It is beautiful.
    It was 50* this morning, what a relief from the heat. But its going to get back to hot again. I wished it would cool down at night so you could get a break.
    I am canning now, and trying to find my accessories for my sewing machine, which I am panicking now, as a lot of those feet I cannot find anymore for an old Necchi.
    Kitties look great. A cat's life indeed.
    D just called the cable company as our phone didn't work. We had a lightening strike as it messed up the phone. We had golf ball sized hail and very deadly lightening Saturday night. You could hear it sizzle through the sky like water in a hot skillet.
    Have a wonderful day an upcoming week.

    1. Vicki; How good to have an update from you! Thunder storms in the midwest are quite a show--lightning splitting the sky!
      Canning is such hot work--slogging about in a steamy kitchen and the floor getting sticky underfoot! I splashed hot grape juice on my toes last week--a reminder that flip-flops aren't good for a session with hot liquids!
      I hope you can find the 'feet' for your sewing machine--those Necchis were great workhorses. Moving--nothing like it for misplacing stuff!