Category Archives: Flowers

Unexpected Beauty between Cumberland Farms and Rite Aid

Finally, finally the heat broke last week, and no longer do I sweat just sitting at my desk and typing. A good feeling! In fact, today is chilly enough so that I actually have on a sweater as I sit and work. And we have had a few glorious August days, typical for Maine but getting rarer as the climate changes: Hot,  sunny, and dry during the day—about 80°F—and deliciously cool enough at night so that blankets are needed.

One night, as I lay in bed with the windows open—I leave them open until it becomes too cold to do so—I listened to the song of the crickets, high, sweet, and sad. I heard the hoot of a barred owl. No cars drove by. Next door, no little boy tooted on his horn. No work across the street on a garage being built. Only the symphony of animals and insects, free from the noise of humans.

We humans have such a way of intruding. You might even call us invasive, and we have the gall of criticizing other species that seem to take up too much space, too many resources. But who are we to wag the finger as we burn through Earth’s resources?

I thought of this the other day when we went to our local Cumby’s, to get air for our car’s tires. As I sat and waited for Clif to fill the tires, I noticed an unlikely strip of beauty, wedged between the gas station and the road, with a Rite Aid on the other side. Luckily I had my camera with me.

This spot is a wet area, in its glory right now, and from this picture, you’d never guess how small and cramped it is. But here is an opportunity, and nature filled in. No doubt water creatures live there, too, caught between the parking lot and the road.

You have probably also noticed the purple loosestrife, which has been dubbed invasive, and I guess it is. But despite its name—did Dickens come up with it?—and spreading ways, it is a lovely flower that attracts lots of pollinators. Even though purple loosestrife is the bane of naturalists, I have sympathy for this plant that, along with with goldenrod and cattails, can bloom in a wet spot surrounded by asphalt and traffic.

One day, I wonder, will we be grateful for this tough beauty that has the ability to thrive in such a cramped area?

Who knows? But here in Winthrop, Maine, purple loosestrife has at least one admirer.

 

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How Far North Do You Have to Go?

This summer, the weather in central Maine has been miserable—hot and humid, with mold growing where it usually doesn’t grow. On Saturday, it was so hot and humid that I spent the afternoon on the couch. I just didn’t have the energy to do anything else, even though there is always much to do around here.

That night, Clif and I went to the Theater at Monmouth to see Enchanted April, and my friend Alice was there. We commiserated about the uncomfortable weather and how the recent thunder storms have done nothing to relieve the heat and humidity.

“It’s just like Pennsylvania,” I said, remembering a long-ago vacation when the girls were young. After that trip, we decided never to leave Maine in the summer again.

“It’s just like southern New Jersey,” Alice replied. “That’s why my family went to Vermont for the summer.”

Heading north has been a time-honored way of escaping the heat, but how far north do you have to go nowadays? Recently I read that because of extreme heat, fires are raging above the Arctic circle. You can’t go much farther north than that.

But on Saturday, I felt revived after seeing the delightful Enchanted April, a story about loosening up, just a little, so that life can be better appreciated. And last night, the humidity broke. It was so chilly that I had to add an extra blanket to my bed. A very good night for sleeping.

Then there are the flowers of late July, the last hurrah for my gardens. I usually have black-eyed Susans to perk up August, but this year they haven’t done well, and I only have a few blossoms here and there. I have had those black-eyed Susans for many, many years. It might be time to replace them.

Anyway, here are some of the lovelies from my gardens.

My favorite daylily. What a mouth-watering red!

This one seems to glow from within.

This daylily is more delicate, but I love its pale beauty.

Hostas aren’t known for their beautiful flowers, but the fringe of purple brightens the shady front garden.

As does this balloon flower.

The meteorologists predict more hot and humid weather for the middle of the week. It looks as though no matter where you live, extreme weather is here to stay, and we just have to learn to adapt to it.

And perhaps not release so much carbon into the atmosphere?

Just a thought.

 

Of Flowers and Movies

Mid-July in central Maine. For the past week, the weather has been everything it ought to be. (Well, almost everything. We sure could use some rain.) The daytime temps are about 80°F, perfect summer weather. At night, it dips to 60°F, so cool that we don’t need fans, and blankets feel very good.

My gardens, known more for their cool green rather than for their profusion of color, are dotted here and there with flowers that tolerate some shade.

My favorite daylily is in bloom. Alas, I don’t know its name.

To the delight of the hummingbirds, the bee balm has come into bloom. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get a picture of one of those whirring beauties by a flower. (Quercus, I know how much you love hummingbirds. I’ll keep trying.)

One of my favorite small hostas—Blue Mouse Ears—is in bloom.

But along with flowers and sun, something else comes to central Maine in mid-July—movies, and lots of them, at the Maine International Film Festival in Waterville (MIFF). MIFF is a big event for Waterville and central Maine. Every year we look forward to it and see movies we never would see anywhere else, even at Railroad Square, our favorite art cinema.

Our daughter Dee, a keen moviegoer, always comes to Maine for the festival. She will be arriving tomorrow and will be staying until Sunday, July 22.

As is the case when any guest comes, there has been a flurry of cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping. I’ve made and frozen chickpea patties for a quick lunch or supper. This afternoon, I made a batch of curried lentils. Tomorrow, chocolate chip cookies.

Then it’s off to the movies. The first one we’ll be seeing is called Fake Tattoos, a movie from Quebec, which has a vibrant film industry.

I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting next week, but I might slip in a few pictures of this or that and some words to go with them.

For nearby friends, maybe I’ll see you at the movies.

 

 

In the Cool of the Garden

Still. Everything is quiet in the hot afternoon sun. The birds are hiding in the deep shadows of the woods, and only occasionally do I hear one call. The little boy next door has stopped running, yelling, and playing. No squirrel chitters, no chipmunk squeaks. Barely a car goes by. People are already where they want or need to be.

Meanwhile, in the cool of the garden, that brute of a hosta—Frances Williams—blooms.

Minerva, the little cat, waits until nighttime, when she can romp in the dark, and no one will see her.

Except for the small bird, who watches and waits, ready to take off at a moment’s notice.

No matter the temperature, the garden is a mysterious place.

 

 

 

Heat, Color, and Making the World a Better Place

At last the rain has come, and the temperature has dropped to 75° Fahrenheit. A big relief. But the rest of the week was so hot and so uncomfortable that today I feel a little woozy, as though I’m recovering from the flu. We have no air conditioning in our house—in the past, we’ve never needed it—but if this hot trend continues, we might have to reconsider.

Though it was hot, we had our Fourth of July gathering. While we didn’t solve the problems of the world, we did have this luscious ice-cream cake that Alice made and brought. How good it was!

Despite the heat, my gardens are looking good. Most of my plants are very hardy, and I hand water when it is needed. As I’ve written previously, because we live in the woods, I’ve finally given up on the notion of having gardens with bursts of flowers. Instead, I’ve succumbed to hostas, which have their own quiet charm. However, as this picture indicate, there is a bit of yellow to liven up the green of the hostas.

And a few astilbes, too.

Out back, where there is a bit more sun, we have a little more color—some orange to go with the yellow, and I really like the way the flowers look against my blue fountain.

Here is a closer look at the lilies.

Finally, I want to let my blogging friends know how much I appreciate your understanding about why I feel down in the dumps about this country. Near or far, I feel as though I have found a group of kindred spirits, who, through your writing and your philosophy, make this world a better place.

Many, many thanks!

A Garden Visit

This has been a week of visiting with friends and a much-needed break from fiction writing. I decided to take some time off, and I probably won’t return to fiction writing until mid-July.  For the past month, there was a mighty push to get Library Lost finished, and my batteries need a chance to recharge.  Of course, I’ve been thinking about the third book, and I’ve even come up with a new dimension called Down Cellar, which sounds like hell but is really a place outside time.

Anyway, I digress. Today, my friend Gayle invited me to come see her gardens, and that visit was the cherry on the sundae of a wonderful week. Here is the sign that greeted me when I pulled into her driveway.

That sign made this nature lover’s heart leap with joy, and as to be expected, Gayle’s yard and gardens were green and welcoming, filled with bushes, trees, plants, and water—all designed to encourage creatures that scamper, jump, flutter, and fly.

Like me, Gayle has a lot of shade in her yard, but she gets enough sun for various flowers, including white roses,

columbines,

foxgloves,

and a lovely delicate iris.

Most gardeners are very generous, and Gayle is no exception. She even gave me a plant to take home.

This plant is called Brunnera, and it likes shade. Those white patterned leaves are sure to brighten a shady spot in my garden.

Many thanks, Gayle—for the tour, for the plant, and for providing such a welcoming place for wildlife.

So inspiring.