All posts by Laurie Graves

I write about nature, food, the environment, home, family, community, and people.

Welcome, July!

July is here, and what a beauty of a day with sun, low humidity, and a temperature that is just right, warm but not too hot. The window by my desk is open, and as I work I can smell the sweet air coming from the trees and the woods. The birds are singing, and when I look outside, I see green, green, green. Nature is calling “come outside.” Unfortunately, I must work at my desk.

June was a cool, rainy month, and while it didn’t bother me personally—I am comfortable in a broad range of temperatures, from 65°F to 82°F—it has not been good for vegetables and hay. Everything is late, late, late, and farmers are worried about how they are going to feed their animals. The fields are too saturated, and the hay can’t be cut. This sounds like an old-fashioned concern from bygone days, but Maine is a rural state blessed with farmers young and old. We have plenty of goats, sheep, cows, chickens, and horses as well as tourists. While drought is never welcomed, I do hope that July, August, and even September will bring abundant sunshine so that the hay can be cut, and the farmers can feed their animals this winter.

The perennials in my gardens are doing well, and here is the view of our front yard.  Still mostly green, with a touch of yellow. I have made my peace with having a garden with subtle colors and have even learned to love it. (But, oh, how I still drool over the gardens of some of my blogging friends. You know who you are.)

Here is a closer look at some of the yellow against, of course, a hosta.

July is the time for fledglings, young birds that are mostly grown up but still follow their parents around and depend on them, at least to some extent, for food. I have an extremely soft spot for these fledglings who are on the cusp of independence. Such a harsh, dangerous world for them, and it touches me to see how the parents tend to clamoring offspring that are no longer small.

Because we live in the woods, we have the opportunity to see the fledglings of many birds—crows, nuthatches, gold finches, to name a few. The other day, it was a woodpecker, eating from the bird feeder and then feeding the fledgling who waited patiently underneath.

Best of luck, fledgling woodpecker! May you thrive and mature to raise families of your own.

Kind Words from Canada about Library Lost

Kind words about my books Library Lost and Maya and the Book of Everything are always appreciated, but when they come exactly at the right time, it is even better. So it was with my blogging friend Sheryl of Flowery Prose, a master gardener and writer from Calgary Alberta, Canada. Connecting with people from afar is a wonderful example of the joys of blogging. Readers, if you haven’t checked out Flowery Prose, then please do.

Sheryl recently wrote a review of Library Lost. As for the timing…this book has been published for six months, which means the flurry of its arrival has subsided. I am in the middle of writing Out of Time, the next book in my Great Library Series. While it might be an exaggeration to state this is a “dark night of the soul” phase for me, I am definitely in the Oh-my-God-how-am-I-going-to-get-to-the-end phase. I know where I went to go. I’m just not sure how I am going to get there. A good metaphor for life in general, don’t you think?

Here is some of what Sheryl wrote, used with permission.

The fate of the Great Library – the source of all of the knowledge and information in the universe – remains at stake in Library Lost. As Time and Chaos battle for such a powerful and valuable prize, other players have their own agendas. It’s up to our smart, strong teenage heroine, Maya, and her allies to stay out of danger and initiate a plan to save the Library. Unfortunately, the best-laid plans don’t always pan out the way they should, and the result is an engaging, action-packed (and magical!) adventure with brilliant pacing and and an exquisitely detailed and realized setting.

Many thanks, Sheryl! And onward, ho for me.

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Windy

On Saturday, we went to Steep Falls Farmers Market with our books and display. As the title indicates, it was an up and down kind of day.

Being a person who likes to look on the bright side of life, I’ll start with the good.

First, it was a gloriously sunny day—it had rained the day before— and the Steep Falls Farmers Market is on a pretty green complete with a gazebo.

Here we are all set up.

Here’s a longer view of the green.

And our books and prints started out looking pretty.

Now comes the bad. I am going to borrow from another crafter by noting that we had to get up at God-awful-o’clock in the morning to get to Steep Falls—over an hour from where we live—and set up by 8:30.  (The market opens at 9:00.) To put it mildly, I am not a morning person. By the time we were set up and I had the first sip of tea from my thermos, I felt as though I had been whacked between the eyes with a 2 x 4. In short, not exactly my usual perky self. (Go ahead, morning folks. Yuck it up.)

Then came the windy. Apparently, the green is in a breezy spot in town, and because it had rained the day before, the wind was even worse than usual. A particularly strong gust knocked over our canopy and bent one of the legs. It swept our books and prints and most everything else off the table. Fortunately, none of our items are breakable, and aside from the canopy’s leg, nothing was damaged.

However, no longer did we have a pretty display where our books and prints were neatly arranged. Instead, everything was higgedly-piggedly, set out for easy protection from the wind rather than for any kind of order. (No, I did not get pictures of the brouhaha.)

By the time the end of the fair rolled around, we were just plain tuckered out.

But I don’t want to finish on that note because something very good happened to perk up what was an extremely trying day. Across the green from us, Feathers and Scale Farm had a booth, and as their business card proclaims, they sell “soap, milk, cheese, and all things goat.”

Just before the market ended, Wes Woodman—who owns the farm with his wife, Carissa Larsen—brought over two puddings for us. One was a luscious chocolate, and the other was an even more luscious vanilla. What a cool, delicious treat! I can taste it still, and I could have some right now.

Here is a picture of Wes Woodman by his booth.

Readers, if you are ever come across some of Feathers and Scale Farm’s delectable products, do not hesitate to buy them.

Thanks, Wes. for the scrummy treats.

 

 

 

Something about Iris

The summer solstice, the longest day of the year, is here. This day marks the beginning of summer, and it will be interesting to see what the season brings. The spring has been cool and rainy and rainy and cool. As I indicated in a previous post, this has been good for the gardens (except for the basil) and excellent for the mosquitoes and ticks. Really, this has been a banner year for the nasty biters. Good thing it’s so pretty, lush, and green outside. Otherwise, a person might start feeling resentful as she runs from the car to the house to escape the mosquitoes. And tweezers off yet another tick.

Another consolation is the irises. They are in full, beautiful bloom, and they are my favorite flower. How I love their elegant beauty.

Today is also the anniversary of my mother’s birthday, and if she were alive, she would be eighty-three. Happy birthday, Mom! We miss you very much.

Tomorrow, Clif and I are going to a Farmers Market in Steep Falls to sell our books. We have never set up at a farmers market before, and we have no idea if this will be a good venue for selling our books. Still, we love farmers markets and are bound to have a good time, no matter how many books we sell. And no doubt we will come home with something fresh and delicious.

Finally, here is another shot of the gardens with chives instead of irises.

In Maine, June must surely be one of the most beautiful months.

Some Thoughts about Plastic from the Snail of Happiness

Nowadays, plastic is everywhere—in our homes, in our businesses, in our landscapes, in our oceans. It is a fact of everyday life. Because of its inability to breakdown, plastic has been called the devil’s resin. I am trying, with limited success, to reduce the amount of plastic that I use, and I am sure this is true for a lot of readers.

Recently, Jan, from the blog The Snail of Happiness, wrote a post about plastic and how it might be used appropriately. She has agreed to let me link to this thought-provoking post.

Here are the first two paragraphs from Jan’s piece:

Today I want to discuss plastic… it’s in the news a lot at the moment and it is always portrayed as being evil. Well, I want to say that I disagree. Please stick with me on this and I’ll explain why I’m worried about the huge number of “plastic-free [insert town name here]” initiatives that are springing up and the way that plastic is presented currently in the media.

Language is very important, what we call things affects the way we perceive them. Call it “global warming” and the immediate image (in the UK at least) is nicer summers; call it “climate change” and that just means things are going to be different, and, after all, we all know that “a change is as good as a rest”; but call it “catastrophic climate breakdown” and there are no comfortable images to hide behind. See what I mean?

Click here to read the full piece and Jan’s take on the use of plastic in the modern world.

In some ways, Jan has made me reconsider my position on plastic. But her piece has also emphasized what I think is the need for a circular economy, where materials are seldom discarded and instead reused for other things. This should be done as locally as possible as shipping trash to China is rubbish. And could local centers, where material is recycled and remade into useful items, actually be a boon to towns and cities? A sort of mini resurgence in manufacturing? Maybe so.

Anyway, thank you, Jan, for this terrific piece.