Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Trails We Walk...

It has been 806 days since I missed walking over Hill Top's trails.  One would think it would be a boring thing to always walk, day after day, those same paths, but I don't find that to be so at all.  There really are no two days the same,  for everything is always changing.  Noticing things above, below, and all around has become a habit that I, at first, had to remind myself to do.

Why, there's the small Serviceberry, or Sarvis tree  that grows among the pines near the top of the hillside that one might not, at first, notice.  I know that I didn't, but now it is like an old friend that I take note of every day.  It is a well photographed little tree, whether covered in rounded clouds of white blossoms in the spring, or reddish to bluish berries in summer which the birds love so much.  But, yesterday on fall's first day, this little tree was all dressed up in rusty leaves, seemingly to celebrate the changing of the seasons.

First Day of Fall 2019

Early spring 2019

Bur Oak First Day of Fall 2019

Blackjack Oak where the trail reenters the woods, Fall 2019

It's the time of year for cleaning and organizing which I do in Johnny Cash fashion, "One Piece at a Time."  This week I am concentrating on the sewing room, where much was done a few weeks ago when we brought in the old pie safe that I wrote about in an earlier post. But, now it is time to go through everything in the closet, deciding what to keep and what to throw (or give) away. The very first day, I found out just hard this job may turn out to be.

There, on a shelf sat this doll; one I had set aside when I was needing to finish up dolls for the Granddaughters'  Christmas presents.  The thing of it is... I am just not that thrilled with this doll.  I almost tossed her into the trash, but then stopped, thinking I heard a soft little whimper.  Okay....

Her hands and arms were too small, so I made new ones better proportioned for her.  They will be painted when I get around to repainting her head.  Her head is made of clay covered with cloth, so if I add more clay, giving her plump little cheeks, a fuller mouth, and a bit of a turned up little nose, I will have to add another layer of cloth.  Can I do that?  Will I be able to tuck the cloth around the edges of her hair which is made of stiffened and painted cotton thread?  Well, I guess we will see.  If not, there's always that ole' trash can.

It's a rainy day here - a real drought buster!  So, it's a perfect day to hang out in the sewing room and work on the little unhappy doll.  A little later, if the rain continues,  I may be carrying an umbrella and wearing my rubber boots when Millie and I strike out over the hill.  It will definitely be a different trail today!  Then, tonight, we are looking forward to watching Episode Seven of  "Country Music."  Last night's program was just awesome!  Neither of us dropped off to sleep in our chairs, for sure!

"Anything worth thinking about is worth singing about."  ~Bob Dylan

Thursday, September 19, 2019

"Mule Skinner Blues"...

Mules from my sister's farm...

It has been a week of Ken Burns here on our Hill Top.  Well, along with all the other stuff that one has to deal with when a drought takes over the farm.  But, for now, I think I would rather talk about this remarkable documentary we have been watching on PBS television about Country Music. Have any of you been watching too?

I have been a country music fan for most of my life.  I can remember listening to the Grand Ole' Opry on the radio before we had television.  My dad would sometimes come into the kitchen  singing to my mother, "Hey, Good Lookin' What You Got Cookin'.  How about cooking something up with me?"   Those were happy times.  

My list of favorite songs and singers is a long one, with Merle Haggard usually coming out on top.  But, now, after a couple of episodes of Ken Burns, I think I have a new favorite song.  Would anyone want to wager a guess?  That's right!  It's Dolly Parton's "Mule Skinner Blues."  How about that first note?  I was beginning to think she would never come up for air!

I also love the whistling throughout the song.  My hubby can whistle like that, and without putting his fingers in his mouth, either,  like a lot of the guys and gals do these days.  Why, I think his whistles may be partly the reason the two of us ended up getting married. :~)  


Well, good morning, Captain
Good morning to you, Sir
Hey hey, yeah


Well I'm a lady mule skinner
From down old Tennessee way
Hey hey, I come from Tennessee

I can make any mule listen
Or I won't accept your pay
Hey hey, I won't take your pay


Well, hey hey, little water boy
Won't you bring your water 'round?
Hey hey

If you don't like your job
Well, you can throw your bucket down
Throw it down boy, throw it down


Listen to it here.

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.