Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Last Bale...







This morning, when I stepped out the door to begin the daily ritual of watering the gardens, the Orb Weaver on the Shanty's little porch, was already taking down last night's web.  Hummingbirds were darting here and there about the garden, seemingly more intent on feeding than they were on me.  Their time here is done.  It's time to go.  Many already have.  Migration is a serious thing and they know it.  Even the minutest bit of mass and energy can determine whether they make it, or they don't.  I hope they do.  All of them.

I noticed this morning, as I went about the gardens that there's beginning to be a bit of color showing up in the foliage.  Some of it has, no doubt, been brought on by the lack of rain the past several weeks, but the days are growing shorter and fall is knocking on the door.

I am taking advantage of the dryness to clean up as I water.  Roots of plants that don't belong in a garden give up easily in dry, sandy soil.  Thus, there's a garden hose in one hand, and a weed in the other.  I am ripping out old vegetables, and only holding off on flowers that are looking quite weary and worn, until the last butterfly has fluttered away.






During summer, I don't take many blooms and blossoms  from the gardens.  Every time I pick up my shears to cut a bouquet, it seems each flower is crying out, "Don't take me."   And, I think of the butterflies and the bees that might find food there.  But, now, with the growing season almost over, I have been bringing in flowers from the fields and gardens to dry.  How nice it is to have a pretty bouquet on a cold winter's day!






It has been a big week here on the farm.  The last of the hay has been baled.  Yay, for that last bale! We were entertained that day in the fields by a couple of young coyotes who were intent on finding their dinner on the newly mown field - perhaps a field mouse or rat.  One of the coyotes was a very pretty reddish brown, but I never got an opportunity to get his picture.








"...Slowing down,
time will come
A flutter of falling leaves,
short waves of heat,
strong winds,
migrating birds,
The fruits of summer, stung by wasps,
bitten by squirrels,
will be gone. "

~Bread on the Water

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

My Latest Monster...





Some years ago, after having been working in my garden all of one morning, I remember saying to my little four-year-old grandson, "I think your Mary has created a monster here."  Of course, he didn't comprehend the meaning of that statement.  (There he is in the picture, fishing in the little pond where, in reality, there were no fish.  Bless his little heart!)

That garden was a big ole' garden.  I just kept planting and creating more walkways from rocks I brought in from the streams on the place.  I had dump truck loads of shavings brought in from a local sawmill.  I bought plants and friends gave me plants for the beds and borders along those paths which I carefully tended.

What was I thinking?  Oh, I loved that garden and didn't mind the work at all, but I was already working a full-time job and helping out on the farm too.  It wasn't long before I realized I had, indeed, created a monster.  A few years later we built another house, the one here on our Hill Top, and I left the old garden behind, which I was sad to do.  Our kids have lived there off and on, but none are really much interested in keeping the gardens.  Our son said he thinks we need to take a bull dozer to them.  Ouch!

Here on the hill, I have tried to keep the gardens smaller and simpler, so they are easier to care for.  We don't need another monster here.  But, lately, I have been thinking that maybe, with the new Shanty and Hummingbird Garden, I have done it again.  Why, those delightful little hummingbirds just keep coming.  And, they are hungry!  My mother would probably say, "It takes enough food to feed Coxey's Army."


So, here it is - my latest monster- The Shanty Garden, from spring to fall (almost).  





























Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Way I'd Like to Go On Living...







"The way I'd like to go on
living in this world
wouldn't hurt anything,
I'd just go on walking uphill and downhill,
looking around,
and so what if half the time I don't know what for ~

~Mary Oliver, "Poem for the Anniversary"














It was another walk at dusk last evening.  This business of making hay needs to be over., but I guess we need to be making hay while the sun is shining and it is definitely doing that!  September is off to a hot start for sure, but in late evening, there is just the slightest hint of fall in the air.

 The only proof I have that I was actually out walking over that old mountain last night is this one picture of a lone cow standing at meadow's edge where the trail up Pine Hill opens onto High Meadow.   Obviously, the cow had wandered off from the herd to have a new calf in the solitary way  they have of doing.   I didn't want to disturb her, so I didn't venture over for a closer look.  The cattle are our friends, and Millie and I are their friends, but those mommas don't want other critters around their new babies.







`

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Time and Creativity...





"Creative work needs solitude.  It needs concentration, without interruptions.  It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching..."

~Mary Oliver

                                                                 




Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life.

~Brian Andreas





"No one is Youer than You."

~Dr. Seuss

"The world only has one chance at what's in there - one chance at you.  It's worth time, energy, embarrassment, failure and disappointment to work your way through to the deepest, most truly creative work you can do - the youest - the work of your utterly unique, snowflake of an imagination."





So, as I ponder these thoughts on time and creativity, I am reminded of what  precious resources both are.  There are, perhaps, a zillion ways to express our own creativity, and probably even more ways than that to use the time we have been given.  There's no doubt that by saying yes to one work means saying no to another.  My mom used to say, "It's like robbing Peter to pay Paul."

The thing of it, it seems, is to somehow or another squeeze into those oh-so-wonderful-twenty-four-hour-days the things we really want to do.  And, if something gets left out, we probably, in truth,  don't really want to do that thing.  At least we must know, that something else is more important than the little left out things we keep lamenting about not having time for.

So now, I'll go finish up the laundry and sweep off the porches.  And, I'm quite sure the hummingbird feeders will need refilling...   And....  So the day goes....



Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Millie and Mary Boyer...






If it hadn't been for Mary Boyer, I probably would have never had the opportunity to even know Millie, much less to have been able to bring her into our lives to love and to enjoy every day.






Mary M. Boyer was born in Tillicoultry, Scotland in 1927.  She died earlier this year, after having lived in our little town for forty-five years.  Her story is one I would like to know - how and why she left her home country to come to live here.  No one I have asked seems to know.

Her obituary in the local paper said of Mary, "Folks who have been blessed to cross her path during her 91 years will remember her as smart, honest, funny, kind and self-sacrificing.  She loved her family, her friends and, very importantly, any and all four-legged furry pets.  Her friends will miss her compassionate spirit and her devotion to Needy Paws Animal Shelter.

Mary was instrumental in constructing a building for Needy Paws in 1996, where she volunteered tirelessly year after year.  She cleaned kennels, worked in the office, did the bookkeeping, handled correspondence and donations, and many more tasks.  She served on the board of the shelter for a number of years.  There is probably not a job that Mary did not do, a task she was unwilling to perform, or a dog or cat she did not love."

Mary was still actively involved with the shelter in 2016 when we brought our sweet, half-grown pup home.  The picture below was taken at the pond on Millie's first day here when she and I took our very first walk together.  






It didn't take many of those walks together before Millie began to look forward to it,  and would be standing at the back door waiting for me to come out with my walking boots on and carrying my stick.  As was said of Lassie in Eric Knight's long time classic, Lassie Come-Home, "You can set your clock by her," you can also set your clock by Millie.  When it's time to go, it's time to go.





Mary Boyer's obituary continued.

"Her friends will certainly remember the wonderful, colorful stories Mary had to share.  She loved to visit with her many friends, as she was a skilled conversationalist.  She was a devoted pen pal to many friends, some of whom she never got to meet in person, but loved with her whole heart.  Mary very much loved letter writing.  She was a master of correspondence and delighted with every response she received.

Mary loved animals, politics, history, westerns and Hershey candy bars.  She relished every opportunity to discuss these subjects with her friends while enjoying a bit of chocolate."


It is that last paragraph that really struck a chord with me about Mary M. Boyer!   I wish I could  have known this fine lady for when you're talking about animals, history, westerns and Hershey candy bars...well, that's right up my alley, for sure!  

So, Mary M. Boyer, the rest of these pictures, which are some of my favorites of our sweet Millie, are for you.  I know you would be proud!




















Monday, August 26, 2019

Screen Doors and Aprons...












My mother almost always wore an apron, especially when she was working in the kitchen.  She preferred a simple half apron with pockets; one she could whisk on and tie as quickly as the blink of an  eye.  I can see her doing that right now.

From an early age, it was expected of me, the older girl in the family, to be right by Momma's side helping do whatever needed to be done.  Of course, I wore an apron too.

 In the picture above, I must have been a senior in high school, because that's when I got my first pair of shorts.  I remember that some of the girls in our class decided that we would all wear shorts on our senior class trip to Hot Springs, so Momma made this pair for me.  Why, I even wore an apron over my shorts!

But, I have been side-tracked for I started out to write this post about screen doors.  They are all the rage now, it seems, as  The Farm House look sweeps the country.  What would a farm house be without at least one screen door?  Maybe even a couple of old ones could be brought inside for the pantry and wherever.

Well, our farmhouse, even though I don't remember ever having called it a farmhouse, had two screen doors, one at the front and one at the back.  Our screen doors were the kind that screeched menacingly when opened and thwacked soundly when closed.  Momma was always hollering, "You kids quit slamming those doors."  I guess we were a rowdy bunch.

When I was looking through old folders trying to find screen door pictures, I came across this one. This door was a nice stout one at the back of the house. As I sat studying this old picture, I noticed a vague image standing inside the screen door.  I don't think I had ever noticed it before.  I did just a bit of photo editing brightening up the exposure, and there stood my mom; right there in that screen door wearing her apron just as clear as could be.

I looked long and hard at that old screen door with Momma miraculously standing behind it.  I cried a little.  Maybe more than a little.  I squinted hard trying to see past her into the house.  It was as though I was looking back through the years of my life, thinking about those things that were fixed in my mind, and trying to remember those that weren't.

Yes, all of you Farm House enthusiasts, you will definitely be needing a screen door, preferably one that screeches and thwacks, but more importantly, one that offers a mighty good view when you, one day, take a good hard look back through the misty depths of that old door.





 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Making Hay...











The sun had dropped below the horizon by the time we had finished rolling up the last bale of hay.  It had been a long and very hot day, so we were happy to heading home.  With the work finished, we were no longer concerned about the dark clouds that blackened the sky. (No good grass farmer wants to see his hay get wet from rain before it is baled.)  We were, in fact, excited to think that rain might be on the way.  Our Hill Top is needing rain!

My biggest  concern was that Millie and I hadn't  made our evening trek over the hill!   And, that I hadn't fed the hummingbirds since early morning.  All of this yet to do, and there was a thunderstorm headed our way.  Lightening flashed and thunder rumbled, but no matter, I got my umbrella, my flashlight, and my Millie and headed out.  It was our 772nd walk, and the streak would not be broken.  We hadn't made it more than 50 yards, when He-Who-Worries, pulled up behind us in his side-by-side.  The lights from his headlamps certainly made the walk easier, and the assurance that I  could always get inside with him, was comforting. (Millie won't ride.)  The storm hit when we got to the pond.  The wind blew quite hard and a few drops of rain fell.  We walked on.  The streak was not broken.  And, the storm moved off to the east leaving us, much to our chagrin, high and dry.




With the walk completed, I went about the task of cleaning and filling nine hummingbird feeders.  Three of the quart-sized feeders fit perfectly in an old roaster pan, so there were only three trips to be made out to the Garden Shanty and Shed.  On one of those trips is when I discovered the spider.

Oh no, not another spider story, you say!  Well, maybe not another one.  It may be just another chapter about the same Orb Weaver that, last week, I thought was lost.  At that time, the web was built each night on the east side of the little shed.  Last night, there on the west side of the shed was a magnificent orb web with a big beautiful Orb Weaver right in its center.  I think she is my spider.

If she had simply moved to another location to build her web, I wouldn't have known, because I had not gone out to fill the feeders at night.  And, the web would have been gone during the day when I was ordinarily out and about.

 So, that's the end of the spider story.  I suppose, all's well, that ends well.  ( I just stepped out to the Shanty a bit ago, and there was my spider busy at work on her new web.)





Thursday, August 15, 2019

Tenuous at Best....







August  (1887)

   ~Lizette Woodworth Reese

No wind, no bird.  The river flames like brass.
On either side, smitten as with a spell
Of silence, brood the fields.  In the deep grass,
Edging the dusty roads, lie as they fell
Handfuls of shriveled leaves from tree and bush.
But 'long the orchard fence and at the gate,
Thrusting their saffron torches through the hush,
Wild lilies blaze, and bees hum soon and late.
Rust-colored the tall straggling briar, not one
Rose left.


The spider sets its loom up there
Close to the roots,, and spins out in the sun
A silken web from twig to twig.  The air
Is full of hot rank scents.  Upon the hill
Drifts the noon's single cloud, white, glaring, still.

(I read this wonderful poem on Hildred's blog daybyday.  If you haven't read Hildred, I think you should.  She's the best!  And, she's a weaver, too!)



So, here I am going over my quota of one picture per post, but....  Sometimes, we just change our mind about things.

My spider is gone!  I knew yesterday morning when I saw that she had not eaten all of her web from the night before that something was awry.   I was anxious for the night to come to see if she would be back, but, of course, she was not.

Illuminated by my flashlight, there gently fluttering in a late evening breeze, was half an abandoned orb.  How hard she had worked, day after day, and night after night.  She would  weave her magnificent webs by night and take them down by day.  I thought of  how tenuous, at best, life is.  Here today; gone tomorrow.

As I stood there looking and pondering on these things, a very small spider with very long legs, crawled up one of the non-sticky threads.  Was it a young Golden Orb Weaver?  And, even better, was it one of my, now lost, Orb Weaver's children?  I would think so!

Later I googled , "Predators of Orb Weavers," and read, "Predators of Orb Weavers include several bird species and wasps of the family Sphecidae.  The wasps land on the web, lure the spider to the perimeter by imitating a struggling insect's vibrations and then carry the spider away to be paralyzed and stored as live food for their young."  I have no doubt that this Golden Orb Weaver was taking down her web when she was taken away, for exactly half is gone; the remaining half still perfectly shaped.  I am amazed that the hummingbirds fly all around it, but never into it.

I read that the lifespan of a female Garden Orb Weaver is about twelve months.  A female lays her eggs in late summer to autumn.  The eggs are encased in a fluffy silken cocoon and attached to foliage.  Toward the end of fall, the females will lay their last clutch of eggs, and then die at the first frost.  Unless...


We are having some really hot August days.  I don't go out without my hat, and Millie takes refuge wherever she can find a deep shade.  The hummingbirds don't seem to mind the heat and have been coming by the droves to sip on cool sweet water and to feast on delightful late summer flowers.  Keeping nine feeders cleaned and filled is a tremendous job.  He-Who-Is-Wise gently reminded me that it's not a law that I have to feed the birds.  But, I do.  And I will.  I love them!




Monday, August 12, 2019

Moving from Here to There...








When it was decided that it would be best just to remove my old blog and start another, I made a couple of commitments to myself.  First of all, even though my favorite thing about blogging had been the pictures, and lots of them, I decided I would only post one picture for each new post here at Hill Top Post.

Of course, anyone could easily guess that the second promise to myself was to post more often.   I didn't actually get around to committing to exactly how much more, but definitely more than once a month - with more writing!  Ouch!

Now, that one picture promise thing really came back to haunt me (No pun intended.  Spiders are kind of scary, you know.) when I wrote about my new friend in the previous post.  The evening that I took my camera outside I had hopes of  getting just  one good image of My Charlotte as she was weaving her silken threads.  When I realized that she was not bothered in the least by my being there, I got up close with her and took at least a dozen shots of her at work, which all turned out to be awesome pictures.  Oh dear, how could I choose just one?  Maybe, I will go over to Flickr and post more.

So, here's my one picture of the day.  It's an old old pie safe with screen wiring in the doors.  On my previous blog, I would have posted pictures of this old cabinet when it was setting inside my little garden shanty.  That was before I decided I needed it moved inside to my sewing room.  And, I would have definitely posted another picture of the old cabinet that I bought to take its place in the shanty.  Well, that one will just have to wait for another day.

Of course, all of this moving from here to there, didn't exactly please He-Who-Had-To-Help.  The old pie safe was taking the place of a bookcase that was loaded down with "stuff."  (My eighth grade English teacher would never allow us to use that word.  I guess his wife didn't have a sewing room.  :~))  The bookcase contents were downloaded to the floor, and the new piece was shoved into place.  He-Who-Was-Happy-To-Be-Finished went on his way, and I went to work cleaning and organizing the sewing room.  That little job took only a measly two days.  And, I love it ! (I really thought about adding a third commitment to my blogging experience - not to say "I love it."  But, I really do!)  And, I really, really love my clean sewing room.  And, I really, really love the new cabinet in the Garden Shanty!  And, I really really love Hill Top Post.

                                                               
                                                                




Friday, August 9, 2019

What a Gamble Friendship Is...







 Up and down, around and around, she moves quickly as she weaves her impressive web, stretching from post to post on the hummingbirds' shed.  I watch in awe as the spiral wheel-shaped web takes shape. In almost no time at all, the web is complete, and she settles down to wait.

Wilbur, in Charlotte's Web by E. B. White said, "I've got a new friend, all right.  But what a gamble friendship is!  Charlotte is fierce, brutal, scheming, blood-thirsty - everything I don't like.  How can I learn to like her, even though she is pretty and of course, clever?"

And, so my spider is all those things, too.  But, I love her!

What happens to her web, I am not sure, for it will disappear in the morning.  She may consume it, as I have read these spiders do, or possibly, the hummingbirds may wipe it away as they zip here and there around the feeders.  I will try to watch more closely in the morning.

I think she's beautiful.  Dan thinks she's scary.  What do you think?




Monday, August 5, 2019

To Begin, Begin...







William Wordsworth once wrote, "To begin, begin."  So, here I am, beginning again.  It's a new place to call my own, where I can hide out to parry and ponder.  I am so happy with the name, Hill Top Post, but, at the same time, I am also sad that my beloved Chip Butter White Oak had to be laid to rest.  The new name surely brings to mind another Hill Top found in another place and in another time - the Hill Top home of Beatrix Potter, which is quite an inspiration, for sure.

Margaret Lane in The Tale of Beatrix Potter wrote of Beatrix's Hill Top.  "At one end of Sawrey village is a small inn, the Tower Bank Arms, and immediately behind it, reached by a wicket gate in the high wall and a long sloping garden path, Beatrix Potter found a small, ordinary, roughcast and slate-roofed farmhouse, facing away from the village and over its own rick-yard and farm buildings to gently rising pasture crowned with woods.  In every respect unpretentious, the place yet had a quality of its own.  Its simple outline was filled in with many of the homely details of farmhouse life which had charmed her as a child:  herbs and flowers bloomed together beside the path; there was an untidy pink rose straggling across the face of the house and a beehive set in a sheltered niche in the wall; the kitchen had a good flagged floor, and there was a clean dairy; and the small mixed farm - a few cows and sheep and pigs and a scattering of poultry..."

Oh, how lovely Beatrix Potter's Hill Top must have been!  But, that is neither here, nor now.  It is here, down this country lane, that this tale will be told.  And, so we begin, again...

Welcome to Hill Top Post!