And Then the Rain Came

A busy, busy weekend for Clif and me, two homebodies who live on the edge of the woods. And we never went farther than two miles from our home. (Of course, it does help when people come to your house.)

On Thursday—not technically the weekend but close enough—three new friends came for lunch, and the weather, not too hot, not too cold, allowed us to eat on the patio. Very nice getting to know these three.

On Friday, Clif and I headed to van der Brew for a rousing night of Trivia led by Nick the Librarian. We were joined by friends Claire and Lori, and what fun we had. As usual, a few times, we talked ourselves out of the right answers. (I still feel bitter over Berlin and Beyoncé, when the answers should have been Moscow and Alicia Keys.) But despite our missteps, we had enough points to finish in the middle of the pack, and we were pretty darned happy about that.

On Sunday, our friends Alice and Joel came over for a barbecue of patties made from Beyond Burger, which they agreed tasted like regular hamburgers. Alice and Joel were so impressed that they indicated they would be looking for Beyond Burger when they go grocery shopping. Naturally, we finished the day by solving the world’s problems. Good of us, isn’t it?

Over the weekend, the temperature dropped to 60°F and it rained. Normally, this would be a bummer for a holiday weekend, but after the extreme heat and the drought, it felt like a blessed event.

My new rain gauge collected an inch-and-a-half of water. The gardens should be happy for a few days, anyway.

Gray skies and rain make a perfect combination for photos of white flowers.

And here’s a bonus picture, taken before the rain came, of a lily and the world.

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Nifty posts from blogging friends far and near:

Lavinia, of Salmon Brook Farm, wrote a poignant farewell to her beloved cat Hope.

Going Batty in Wales featured an oh so magical round house, much of which was built from recycled materials.

Thistles and Kiwis was greeted with a beautiful sky on the morning of her birthday.

Ju-Lyn, of Touring my Backyard, has posted mouth-watering pictures of hawker noodles.

On Suzanne’s Mom’s Blog there are some deep and insightful thoughts about Independence Day, better known as Fourth of July.

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Finally, the return of a  feature I know you’ve all been waiting for—well, maybe some of you more than others—the video of a song I’ve been listening a lot to lately. “Road to Nowhere” by Talking Heads came out in 1985. Still seems appropriate.

Another Scorchah

As the title of this post indicates, today is another hot one for Maine, complete with a heat advisory warning. The heat index values are projected to be from 95°F to 100°F. Because we live inland, I’ve no doubt we will be on the 100°F side of things.

Here was the temperature yesterday afternoon. Note: The thermometer is in the shade.

Recently, I read that more people die from heat than they do from cold. I was a little surprised to learn this, but after discussing it with Clif, I understood. With the cold, you can bundle up to keep warm, and small structures, ranging from igloos to tents, will trap body heat. Sleeping bags will keep you toasty even in frigid weather.

There is no real equivalency for coping with extreme heat.  It is true that insulation and building color make a difference, but they only go so far.  We human beings are not equipped to deal with high heat.

Except we have no choice. Temperatures are rising, and those of us who are older know from first-hand experience that the weather is much hotter now than it was when we were growing up. Those old days are gone, and we must cope, which no doubt will involve air conditioners for folks like us who never thought they’d need them.

From time to time I have wondered if Clif and I have been too extreme in our response to climate change. Unless there is some sort of emergency, we will not fly. We severely limit our driving. Rare is the day when we leave Winthrop—good thing we live in such a sweet little town with a great library, a grocery store, and a brewery that has become a gathering place. Every two weeks or so, we drive to Augusta, a small city and the state’s capital. We pick up things that we can’t get in Winthrop and meet with friends at a local café for coffee and tea. We have a farm share with our own Farmer Kev and receive bi-weekly deliveries of fresh veggies from his farm. Finally, we don’t eat beef (or any other meat), whose production is a huge source of greenhouse gas.

But with the heat wave that has hit the country, I realize we have not been too extreme. Rather, we are not extreme enough. We should replace our gas hot water heater with an electric one. We should add more insulation to the attic to help reduce the amount of fuel we use. We should replace all our windows, which are the original ones from when our fifty-two-year-old home was built. And topping the list of all those shoulds: We should be driving an electric car.

Scorching heat leads to sobering thoughts, and to lighten the tone, I’ll end with some pictures of flowers and my gardens, which are still looking their best. Somehow, even during this time of climate crisis, we can be delighted by flowers and things that grow.

 

A Scorchah of a Week

According to the weather forecast, Maine is supposed to have a scorcher of a week. Or scorchah, as we Mainers pronounce it. (Mainers have a complicated relationship with the letter r. Someday, for blogging friends unfamiliar with Maine lingo, I will write a post about this.) Anyway, today there is a heat advisory, with heat values of up to 100°F. Thank goodness we bought an air conditioner last year. Hats off to Eva, who is keeping the house at a bearable temperature.

Is this Maine in June? I know I keep harking on this, but I’m old, and I remember the days when June in Maine was cool and rainy. Once upon a time, summer in Maine was oh so sweet, and I sure do long for those summers.

Fortunately, last weekend was not as hot. Instead, the weather was just right.  On Friday, my friend Claire came over for tea and chocolate chip oat bars. She brought her dear dog Hannah over, and how nice it was to have a dog visitor. Pretty nice to visit with Claire, too.

On Saturday, we went to one of my favorite places in town—van der Brew, a craft brewery and tasting room. Claire’s son Patrick (on the right in the picture below) was playing there that night, and a group of us went to hear him play a variety of rock and roll songs. Such a good singer and musician.

Before Patrick started playing, we bought pizza from Brick Oven Bakery, a food trailer that features pizza, bread sticks, and baked goods.

While waiting for our pizza to bake, we sat outside. Clif had a chat with our friend Jill, whom we hadn’t seen for a long, long time.

Next to our table was another dear dog, Beau, who gave me a high-five with his paw when I gave him a dog biscuit provided by his person.

Then came the pizza. Jiminy Cricket, that pizza was good! I could have a piece right now.

While unfortunately I can’t have a slice of that pizza right now, Brick Oven Bakery will be at van der Brew’s every weekend except one for the month of July.

This Friday night is trivia night at the Brew’s. Clif and I just might head down there for good food and plenty of folderol.

Nifty posts from blogging friends near and far:

Check out New England Garden and Thread for one the cutest little vegetable gardens I have ever seen.

From Thistles and Kiwis, food, glorious food.

From Tranature, a poignant poem about Xenia’s grandmother.

Canberra’s Green Spaces features winter pictures of one the most beautiful capitals in the world.

Ju-Lyn, of Touring my Backyard, features two snappy sculptures by the same artist. Then she asks, which is your favorite? I immediately knew which one I liked the best.

 

At Their Best

My gardens are what I call June and July gardens, when there are a few other colors besides green to liven the yard. The slugs and snails have yet to chew the hostas to ribbons, and everything still looks fresh. In early summer, the gardens are at their best, and I never get tired of looking at them.

It is not easy to take pictures to get the sweep of the beds, but the following pictures will give you some idea of what the gardens look like right now.

Here is the front yard.  As I’m sure you can see, there’s still a lot of green. But look! There is also some yellow.

And if you look a little closer, you can see the purple of Jacob’s ladder, which seems to be thriving. I am particularly fond of yellow next to purple, and I will be planting more Jacob’s ladder next year.

The yellow repeats itself in the backyard. The evening primroses are one of the few flowers that actually thrive in these gardens on the edge of the woods. Wish the evening primroses lasted longer.

Like the evening primroses, summer, beautiful summer, is all too brief.

Did We Leave Our Car Windows Open?

In the United States, last Sunday was Father’s Day, and to celebrate, Clif and I had went on an honest-to-God outing, something we haven’t done since March 2020, right before the pandemic closed everything down. First we went to the Colby College Art Museum in Waterville, where we saw an exhibit featuring prints of the U.S. artist Mary Cassatt (May 22, 1844–June 14, 1926).

My first impression of the prints was that they were subtle to the point of being dull. But a closer look disabused me of that notion. A lesson, that’s for sure—first impressions are not always accurate. Cassatt was a master portraitist who focused on mothers and children. Cassatt’s ability to capture nuance and emotion shines forth even in her prints. I was utterly amazed that she could give them so much life.

Here is a short video featuring the curator of the exhibit.

After looking at the exhibit, we wandered around the rest of the museum. We found ourself on the lowest floor of the museum, where there were no windows, and we heard a loud rush of water that sounded suspiciously like rain. Could we really be hearing rain so far down?

It seems that we could. When we went upstairs and looked out a window, we saw the rain bucketing in sheets.

Clif asked, “Did we leave our car windows open?”

Yes, we did. The day was hot and humid, and we thought it would be more comfortable to leave the windows open. Boy, were we ever wrong.

The tempest didn’t last long, and when we went back to the car, there was water, water everywhere pooling inside the center console. Fortunately, I was able to mop up most of the water with napkins from the glove compartment.

But the cloth seats were soaked, and after two minutes of sitting on them, so were our backsides.

Nevertheless, onward we went to the second part of our outing—to Buen Apetito for Mexican food. Fortunately, we sat at a booth with plastic seats. As we squished our way in, I explained the situation to our server, who laughed and took it in stride.

“No worries!” she said.

With that settled, we started with a beer—Lunch not Miller Lite— for Clif and a margarita for me.

We shared an order of potato flautases, which I forget to take a picture of. And because it was Father’s Day weekend, we also split dessert, a deep-fried banana tortilla with scoop of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with cinnamon.

As we would say in Maine, wicked good.

 

Some Favorite Blog Posts from Friends Far and Near

Note: After marathon gardening for two months, I’m still not in the swing of things, But eventually each week I hope to feature more posts from snappy blogs I follow.

Ju-Lyn, from Touring My Backyard, received the gift of a kabocha  pumpkin, which is one I’ve never heard of.

From New Zealand, Thistles and Kiwis featured highlights of a trip to Auckland.

 

 

From Books to Wine to the Patio

Last weekend the weather was fine—hot, but not too hot, and dry. Cooler weather from Canada had pushed the horrible heat and humidity away. Many thanks, Canada! Exactly the way summer in Maine should be, and perfect for everything we had planned.

On Saturday, Clif and I set up a book table at The Art Walk, one of the nicest gift shops in the area. Readers who live nearby, do keep this store in mind when you want a special gift for a special person, including yourself. (I might have bought a present for a special person who lives far away.) The prices and selection are fantastic, and everything is handmade by local artists and crafters.

Barbara Walsh, another Winthrop writer, set up next to me.

Unfortunately, the day was slow, and not many people came by. Never mind. I had a great time chatting with Barbara as well as Nick and his mother Terry, who run the store. Terry even brought a box of cannolis and shared them with us. So nice and so tasty.

After that, it was on to getting together with our friends Dawna and Jim, who recently bought a new house, a sweet little ranch with beautiful gardens. We brought a bottle of wine, glasses, and a wine opener. That way we could toast them and wish them many happy years in their new home. (Their house is pretty darned empty as they will be moving in next week.)

Sunday was another fine day, and I spent a couple of hours on the patio. I read the paper and caught up on blog reading and commenting. Naturally, I took pictures. I might have even snapped several photos of little zipping visitors, but you will have to wait until Wednesday to see those.

In the meantime, the view from my chair…

The predominate color is still green but we are soon approaching the time when my gardens are at their best—June and July—when yellow and red show their pretty faces.

Alas, the irises are on their way out, but here’s a final shot of couple of this year’s bloom.

Farewell, my lovelies.

 

 

Step by Step in the Garden

Along with buying lots of annuals to brighten my shady yard, I also bought a handful of perennials, including Jacob’s Ladder, which is now in bloom. The flowers are modest but pretty, and I am already planning to buy more plants for various spots in the relatively moist areas in the front garden. Plus, now that I have hoses in the front, I can baby, at least a little, the plants that like extra water.

This plant always puts me in mind of the Bruce Hornsby song, “Jacob’s Ladder,” and the plaintive line “All I want from tomorrow is just to get it better than today.”

Step by step, one by one…in the garden. And in life?

Gardening in a June Heatwave

When I was young, it would have been inconceivable to have a heatwave in June in Maine. Yet here we are with the temp in the mid 90s. Records have yet again been broken. Back in the day, even at the end of July or the beginning of August, it was rare for the temp to be that high. My parents and grandparents would have been astonished to deal with such heat in June. And not at all happy. Thank goodness we have Eva, our air conditioner.

Nevertheless, I have pushed on with gardening, going out right after breakfast and coming in before noon, the opposite of what I usually do.

Three weeks ago, the plant table looked like this:

This morning, it looked like this:

Here are some of the flowers in pots by our entryway, their cheery colors ready to greet visitors.

A closer look at the violas, or Johnny-jump-ups as they are also called around here.

But for me, none of the newbies can compare with the irises, which have been here for over thirty years.

With such beauty, a closer look is definitely in order.

On this second week in June, the intense gardening is coming to an end. From here on out, it will be maintenance, feeding, watering, and weeding. A part of me is relieved. Planting and getting the beds ready have been a lot of work. But a part of me is also a little sorry that the rush of spring planting has come to an end. A busy time, yes, but also an exciting time.

My gardens are most definitely June and July gardens. Accordingly, for the next couple months, my blog will feature many pictures of the bursts of color that come briefly to this shady yard.

When you have to wait nine months—almost like having a baby—for flowers, the pleasure is oh so sweet when they finally bloom.

 

 

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