Monday, June 20, 2011

Bits & Pieces


Wild blackberries

Today's harvest with a future melon.

A waterlily in our pond.
My hiatus from the blogosphere can be explained, for the most part, in one short story. It begins with a series of terraces constructed by my husband and our oldest son. The terraces needed to be filled. Add a pile of mulch taller than me and you get the picture! Shovel by shovel-full we filled the terraces. Last night they, and the French drain beneath them, were tested by a hard downpour. The terraces were meant to keep the side yard from washing away as it has been doing for nine years. I am happy to say it all worked; not a crumb of mulch was displaced this morning!

We did need that rain; we haven't had more than a handful of drops for a month now. The vegetables are doing well in spite of it. I picked a foot-long zucchini today, as well as some peppers. The melons that self-seeded, which I wrote about in an earlier post, have tiny fuzzy melon babies growing now. Watermelon or cantaloupe? I can't tell yet. That, as I mentioned, is the main trouble with my compost seed-saving method! A gorgeous waterlily is blooming in the koi pond. My daughter used to call waterlilies "frog pads"!

The blackberries are another story all together. We have wild blackberries growing in the very back of our yard. I am quite proud of the photo I took of those! They would come up all over, but they are quite sharp and invasive, so I only allow them in the back. This becomes a problem when they are ripe and I wish for a greater yield. Last night I walked along the sewer line behind our neighborhood looking for more. I know that sounds disgusting, but it is really a lovely mowed area through the woods which the city uses to maintain the lines. It winds through a dappled wood, down a gentle hill to what I believe is Panther Creek, a Neuse River feeder. I didn't find any berries, but the solitude and beauty of that walk were exactly what I needed. I remembered how I used to love to walk every day through the woods on the sewer line behind my parents' house.

Across the street from the woods and creek is a vacant field. If the ruined and abandoned staircase and toppled and sectioned oak are any indication, it once was the site of a farmhouse under a giant sheltering tree. Now the ruin sits in a chest-high amber sea of grass. Along one entire side of the field tumble waves of brambles, each shaft bearing clumps of berries in red, purple, and glistening black. I picked a pint at least and left many unripe for another day. I can't say how much I love the vacant, forgotten places. Bedecked with kudzu they beckon. On the way home I decided to visit my parents' house today and walk again along the path I trod so often as a teenager impatient for my "real" life to begin.

So I put on long pants (a lesson learned painfully last night amid the thorns and bugs) and set out this morning, a gallon ice cream bucket over my arm. Well the woods of my youth were filled with berries, but today I got maybe a half-cup. It was very disappointing after sidling along slippery banks dropping into the creek and gingerly picking my way through marshes, always watching for snakes. I found one great blackberry patch, but as I reached over to one side I caught sight of the tail end of a snake as thick as my forearm sliding away, so I left those!

In my mother's front yard a turtle was giving birth to eggs in a hole she'd dug. Why, right next to the road? My mother guessed perhaps it is akin to having your baby in the car on the way to the hospital. A crow had opened the nest later and eaten at least one egg. The poor turtle! Life on Earth, so abundant and so cruel. So very beautiful! I did do some sewing today and will be posting more projects very soon.

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