Friday, June 29, 2007

Nocturnal Visitors...

These two rascals visited our yard last night. I had to lure Maude into the house with a bit of meat (courtesy of the omnivores in residence!) or she would have terrorized these little twins. I snapped a few quick photos while the dog was ignoring me, but then left them alone to calm down, once I got Maude in the house. I watched them from the window until the sun went down, as they clung to the top of the slender birch. They must have slipped away quietly during night.

photo by Aisling, June 28, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Inexpressible Comfort...

Though the pages are yellowed and the cover time-worn, my copy of The Best Loved Poems of the American People is a favorite possession. My grandmother wrote her name in this book many, many years ago. In a few places within the pages, she has jotted a scripture reference near a poem that resonated with her. My mother owned a copy as well, and all the poems within are familiar to me, like childhood friends. There are story poems, such as Paul Revere's Ride and Casey at the Bat, or Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven. And a favorite, which I may share here one day, called A Cry from the Canadian Hills.

I took the book to the garden to read this evening, and when I got up to look at the lipstick pink lilies at the other edge of the garden, Arwen made herself comfortable in my chair! Before I got up, I found the following poem which is short, straight-forward, and as meaningful today as it was when written in the 1800s.


Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person,
Having neither to weigh thoughts,

Nor measure words - but pouring them
All right out - just as they are -
Chaff and grain together -
Certain that a faithful hand will
Take and sift them -
Keep what is worth keeping -
And with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.

by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

photos by Aisling, June 28, 2007

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: The New Normal

Senryu is home. The suitcases are unpacked. The boxes have been received from the post office, and the souvenirs have been handed around. Now, we are trying to fit things in and find the "new normal." Onward ho!

photos by Aisling, June 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Worlds Away

For once, this is not a nature poem. Rather, it is, but it is about human nature not my fields and flowers. More specifically, it is about my child who has spent most of this past year in an Asian country. I wonder if you will hear, when you read it, all of my love for and pride in my daughter, and the deep sweet ache of letting go. I wrote it shortly after she left last summer.

Worlds Away
My child has flown half-a-world away…
to breathe the air in tomorrow’s city
‘neath the shadow of yesterday’s skies,
to speak in words the ancients spoke,
and to see through Dragon’s eyes.

She has flown half-a-world away…
to taste the sweet and unfamiliar,
to feel the rain from other skies,
to live each day before I wake,
and to dream through Dragon’s eyes.

Will they know, when they see her -
pale white skin and hazel eyes -
that her heart is like the Dragon;
bold and joyful when she flies?

She has flown half-a-world away
but she’ll come back one summer day,
and will I find my child still child-like,
or will everything about her say
that, though she’s home, her swift-winged soul
is poised for flight and worlds-away?

~ Aisling (Senryu's Mama), August 24, 2006
photo by Haiku, 5/25/07

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Wildflowers from the Wild Edges

photo 1) Sulfur (or Rough-Fruited) Cinquefoil 2) Common St. John's Wort
both by Aisling, June 20, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


On Monday, a sultry breeze greeted me as I took my morning walk through the gardens. The wind grew stronger as the day went on, bringing with it across the lake waves and waves of heat and a strange sense of foreboding. A storm was churning far away in the west, but we could feel it moving toward us all day long.

The kids and I went to a local nursery to see if the "bargain bin" had been set up for the year yet. It had not, but there were vegetable plants available at a reduced price. We selected mostly herbs and a pepper plant that already had baby banana peppers appearing and then headed home. I called the nursery to let them know that the garden bench in the pavillion by the shrubs and trees no longer had a price (as evidenced by the yellow tag in Tanka's hand) and that the lovely bronze fennel was infested with aphids (which they might want to tend to before selling any more plants.) While I was on the phone, the power went out, and the line went dead.

I plugged in the "emergency phone" which does not require electricity to call the nursery back, so that I could finish my sentence. Then, I called the power company to report the outage. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon. They estimated that the power would be back up and running by 9 o'clock at night. I was happy to go into "power out" mode, which for me means reading out loud as a family. Unfortunately, my "sales pitch" for Wind in the Willows did not capture the boy's attention. I was astonished and launched into the first chapter with great enthusiasm (it is a read-aloud favorite of mine) but still, they would not listen. Sighing, I went off to read a book on my own.

We ran an errand late in the afternoon, to make sure we would have a dinner that was easy to prepare without electricity. Limerick got home and set up the generator, so the guys had their dinner heated in the microwave. Hiaku and I had mini whole-wheat pita's stuffed with hummus and some fresh ingredients from the herb garden (chives, oregano, cucumber-flavored salad burnett.) We moved the generator around to take care of various tasks and then plugged the large upright freezer in the basement into it, to keep the contents frozen.

I finally talked some family members into a read-aloud, but had to select a book that would appeal to all. I read the first chapter of My Brother, My Sister, and I, by Yoko Kawashima, an autobiographical account set in post World War II Japan. As we concluded the chapter, several household items blipped and chirped, the electronic announcement that power had been restored forty-five minutes ahead of "schedule."

Through this all, the wind blew wildly, but the rain never came. Late in the evening, with sand and dust from the road blowing in my eyes, I watered my recently planted blueberry bushes. I slept soundly all night, never waking, which is unusual for me. When I woke before 6 A.M., I saw a world washed clean of dust and grime, through droplets trickling down the window glass. The much needed rain had fallen heavily as we slept and today the sun is shining on wet green fields, 20 degrees cooler than they were yesterday, and replenished by the nourishing rain.
photo by Aisling, June 19, 2007, Blanket flower drenched with rain

Sunday, June 17, 2007


For the first time in longer than I can remember, I had the house to myself... all night long and so far all morning. I've discovered that if I had more "alone time" I would listen to Evanescence and Sarah McLachlan, do yoga, and have a pretty clean house! I wouldn't watch much television, but might enjoy an old movie late at night, such as "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" with Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy, and Katharine Hepburn. I would still take a morning walk in the garden, with my mug of steaming coffee in hand. I'd still go barefoot, so the cold wet grass would wash my feet with dew.

I might nap in the afternoon under the apple tree, as I tried to on Wednesday afternoon after the first day of my summer college course. It wasn't long before two very cute little boys climbed onto the blanket with me, effectively turning my quiet time into Mommy time. There is nothing better than Mommy time, but a little alone time - a little quiet and restoration - makes Mommy a lot more fun!

photo by Haiku, June 13, 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Moon in the Morning...

My thoughtful friend Nan sent this poem to me just this week. I wrote it several years ago in April and shared it with some list friends. She thought I might like to share it here, before Spring officially ends (though it feels like summer in my locale already!) So in keeping with Poetry Thursday, here it is. Last year I took this photo of the moon over the lake in the very early morning. The resolution doesn't look as crisp here as the photo does on my computer, but hopefully you get the idea (maybe we can think of it as an artful mistiness!)

Spring Joys

I love to see the moon in daylight;
A wisp of silk stitched to the sky.

I love the scent of unseen flowers,
Urging me to find them hiding
In the moss-paved bowers in which they lie.

I love to hear bright sonnets of birdsong
And the feather-soft whisper of wind.

I love to warm a child's chilled hands,
To kiss the same cheeks the rain has kissed,
And taste the springtime on that apple-blossom skin.

~ Aisling, April 11, 2003

photo by Aisling, June 12, 2006

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Skye Reposes

photo of Skyler, one of our house cats, by Haiku, 5/13/2005

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Day in the Country...

Sometimes the slow, quiet pace that one expects from living in the country gets lost in the hurry of daily life. During the school year, there are so many things to hurry to and from, that my morning and evening walk through my gardens and the view from my windows, might be the only thing "country" about my day. For now, the kids are not in school nor any extra-cirricular activities and, finally, yesterday was a day with nothing on the calendar.

Initially, I thought the day would hold only housework and homework (for the two summer courses that start this week) but late in the morning my twelve blueberry bushes arrived by U.S. Mail. I diligently finished the chapter I was reading in my Critical Thinking text, and then I headed outdoors to plant. The sky was clear, the air hot, whatever the calendar says, summer has definitely arrived.

After planting the blueberries and watering them well, I decided that the weather was too gorgeous to spend the day indoors. The little guys joined me outside, supposedly helping me water, although it looked as if they were making mud rivers in the new garden plot. I dug out an entire bed near the playhouse which had become a tangle of weeds and old-fashioned garden flowers. When I had pulled all the weeds and grasses and turned the soil over a few times, I replanted the hollyhocks, tall geranium, flax, poppies and a few wild asters. It was a hot day for transplanting, but this bed is on the shady side of the playhouse and I watered generously when the planting was done.

I ended up spending most of the day outside tending to various gardening tasks. Late in the evening, our neighbor headed down the steep hill that seperates his home from ours on his old red tractor. He mowed the wedge of field that is adjacent to our property, removing the "scrub trees" that have grown there in the years since the farm's last dairy cattle were sold. We miss the cows grazing in the field, but we are looking forward to the sunflowers which are soon to take their place! Sunflowers are grown in profusion in this region. There is something so beautiful about an entire field of one flowering crop (think of fields of lavender growing in France) and large plots of sunflowers are one of my favorite things to see. Amazingly, I will soon see that charming sight from my own window!
photos by Aisling, 1) the Sunflower Lady who grew in my garden in 2005 2) a sunflower in Haiku's cutting garden in 2006

Friday, June 08, 2007

Afternoon Tea...
A couple of weeks ago I finally replaced the spherical tea infuser that broke years ago. Once again, we have an easy way to enjoy an herbal tissane from our own garden. Since the day I purchased two little heart-shaped metal infusers, Haiku has run down to the garden in the afternoons to gather herbs. Today we enjoyed a blend of rose petals, spearmint, chocolate mint and lemon balm. I thought the tea would be deep pink from the rose petals, but instead it was a lovely, translucent aqua. Other days we have included lavender and cat mint and skipped the pretty roses, which were not yet blooming. We served our tea over ice today, and the boys joined us to commemorate the last day of school, and the beginning of summer vacation. The whole kitchen smelled lemony and fresh, and Tanka kept saying "cheers" and tapping his glass to mine (though carefully!)

When I was a young girl my favorite play place was under the arching canes of an old-fashioned rose shrub. When the rose was blooming, my little hide-away smelled like heaven on earth. My brother's forts were pine-scented or mulberry stained, and we all liked to press down the tall field grass into little "rooms." Lavender, lily of the valley, yellow and purple iris, and roses are all tied to the memory of a certain place or a certain someone from my past, and just one whiff of the fragrance carries me back in time.

photos by Haiku, June 8, 2007

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wild Edges...
This is my 100th post. In honor of that event, and in keeping with an interesting conversation at Green Inventions Central recently about letting native species grow on property edges, I've decided to list 100 things that live and grow in the wild edges on our three and a half acres of land. These are the things that would be here whether we were here or not, not things I have purchased or brought in. Further, this is just a quick "off the top of my head" list. There are other things that should be on this list, but either a)I don't know what it they are called b) I totally forgot about them while making this list or c) I thought of them when the list was filled. The living creatures noted here have either walked over, crawled through or flown above our land in the years that we have lived here, some of them frequently, though not all actually make their home on our property. Our wild edges truly do provide habitat for a fascinating variety of living things, helping in a small way to sustain biodiversity.

50 Rooted Things:
1) red clover 2) ajuga 3) field daisies 4)blue-eyed grass 5) buttercups 6) boneset 7) wild strawberries 8) cattails 9) jewelweed 10) red-twig dogwood 11) multiflora rose 12) Russian olive 13) autumn olive 14) wild apple 15) maple trees 16) chicory 17) blueweed 18) black-eyed Susans, 19) campion 20) yellow clover 21) dandelions 22) mallow 23) St. John's wort 24) fern 25) trout-lily 26) Queen Anne's Lace (wild carrot) 27) yarrow 28) evening primrose 29) goat's beard 30) self-heal 31) horsetail 32) wild mint 33) willow 34) white pine 35) ash 36) spotted knapweed (star thistle) 37) mullein 38) golden rod 39) New England aster 40) wild mustard 41) milkweed 42) joe-pye weed 43) violets 44) bull thistle 45) shepherds purse 46) raspberries 47) wild grapes 48)birch trees 49) smoothish hawkweed 50) orange hawkweed

50 wild creatures:

51) painted turtles 52) snapping turtles 53) ring-neck pheasant 54) red fox 55) coyote 56) Bald Eagle 57) kestrel 58) hawk 59) robin 60) Eastern blue bird 61) blue heron 62) sandhill crane 63) mallards 64) frogs 65) toads 66) dragonflies 67) damselflies 68) monarch butterflies 69) yellow swallowtails 70) blue swallowtails 71) Pandoras Sphinx Moth 72) seagull 73) killdeer 74) meadowlark 75) quail 76) whitetail deer 77) opossum 78) rabbit 79) praying mantis 80) walking stick 81) lady bug 82) mosquito 83) goldenrod and other spiders 84) flies 85) honeybees 86) yellow jackets 87) wasps 88) bumblebees 89) ruby-throated hummingbird 90) red spider mites 91) ants 92) garter snakes 93) moles 94) mice 95)cardinal 96)bob-o-link 97)grouse 98)bats 99) wild geese 100) fireflies

Also, really quickly, my little nod to Poetry Thursday. Just a few lines I wrote several years ago, about June (that includes two of the plants species in my wild edges list!)


Courtship in the meadow has begun;
blue-eyed grass winks at the sky,
and buttercups flirt with the sun.

poetry by Aisling

photos by Aisling 1) Blue-eyed grass, 5/19/2007 2) buttercups 6/3/2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

(Not Quite) Wordless Wednesday...

This may look like a makeshift tent, but it is a sail. Yesterday, while a crisp, cool evening breeze kept their sail billowed, Captain Sijo and his First Mate Tanka sailed their ship (otherwise known as the front deck) across the ocean with no particular destination in mind. They were on a quest for yellow, red and blue buoys, they told me, racing against time and unseen vessels. As the rival “speed boats” approached, the boys begged the wind to save them. Suddenly the wind gusted mightily, filling the sail, and they were racing away… skimming the waves as fast and as far as imagination could carry them.

photo by Aisling, June 5, 2007 (That's Arwen peeking around the sail.)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Spirit Bead...

When I was participating actively in a beader's guild a few years back, I learned about the concept of the spirit bead. As I understand it, Native American beaders would always include one bead that didn't fit the pattern they were working, to indicate that only the Great Spirit or Creator was perfect. My own work had plenty of spirit beads that arrived on their own wings, so I had no need to insert them intentionally.

Ever since learning of that concept, I see "spirit beads" in other aspects of life. For example, the blue flax that piggybacked on a daylily I transplanted to my purple, rose and crimson front garden does not belong. It is the only blue in the garden. Though lovely, and one of my favorite flowers, it is too light and too bright for this particular garden. Nevertheless, so far I have left it there. The blue flax is the spirit bead in the front garden, reminding me that I am not the only gardener on this little parcel of land. There are birds, and wind, and entangled roots that have a hand in the design of my garden. I know it is only the first of many surprises in that garden, and I like it, though it mars my dark romantic color scheme.

The burnt corner of the casserole you are taking to the potluck dinner? Spirit bead. The sagging spot in the top of the birthday cake you made for a friend? Spirit bead. The embarrassing moment you have in front of way too many observers? It's just another spirit bead in the story of your life. It doesn't define the pattern, or who you are. When you start to recognize them as "spirit beads" even imperfections can be beautiful.

photo by Haiku, June 5, 2007

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Blues (or Songs about Monday)...

Have you ever noticed that most songs about Monday disparage the day? I have been humming two songs alternatively all day: Rainy Days and Mondays by the Carpenters and I Don't Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats. Different decades? Yes. Different genres? Yes. But both complain about that day of the week when we get back to the workday routine.

Once upon a time when we were a homeschooling family, I loved Mondays. Though weekends were less structured and more varied, I loved the rhythm of our homeschooling days. Mondays were music days. For a while, when my daughters were in early elementary, we had violin and flute lessons on Monday. When they decided that formal instruction was no longer their "thing" we still had music on Mondays. When morning read alouds were done, and all of our table work and computer tasks completed, we would put some (usually classical) music on the CD player and learn about the composer and his or her time in history. Or we would have an art appreciation hour, full of sketching and daydreaming, while artful music played.

Now that we are not homeschooling, Mondays are more hurried, more filled with the pressure of being somewhere on time with all of the right gear on hand. Today I substituted for a secretary in the elementary school office and we had to be on the road a little earlier than we are on the days when I volunteer in the school library. We managed to be there in plenty time, despite fog... despite it being Monday. I actually really enjoyed myself. The atmosphere in the school is very cheerful... there only a few more days before summer vacation, after all!

As I write this, rain is falling. Like me humming two different songs about Monday, the day has vacillated between two different genres of wet and gray: rain, then mist, then back to rain again. I'm putting on some music as I finish posting this, to chase away the last remnants of the Monday Blues. Now if only I can decide between Classic Stressbusters or The Clash!

These are photos of some of the blues in my butterfly garden taken today, between the rains: 1) Skywings Iris, after which my butterfly garden is named (yes, I name everything!) 2)Lilac and Violet Iris from a friend, cultivar unknown 3)Deep Purple Viola's that were hiding in a pot of aquilegia I purchased last month. All photos by Aisling, June 4, 2007

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Rose Moon...

Heavy clouds obscured another month's full moon on Friday. This moon, according to my favorite source, is the Rose Moon. The roses in Haiku's garden (she is the rose gardener in the family) are in bud and will certainly begin to bloom during the month of June, so this moon name seems appropriate. Since the roses are not yet blooming, the photos today are from some of the other blossoms in my various gardens after last night's much-needed rain.

photo 1) Scarlett O'Hara in the front garden... again! 2) Wild Jasmine Iris in Mariah's Garden
3) River Hawk Iris in the butterfly garden 4) Blue Flax in Haiku's Rose and Herb Garden

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tomorrow's Another Day...

This peony cultivar is Scarlett O'Hara. I purchased her, a bit too early last year, before our frost free date and planted her in the butterfly garden where she did not thrive. At the end of the growing season, I moved this plant and my other peonies up to the new front garden where there is more sun. Over the years, the Chinese Elm in the butterfly garden has grown larger and leafier transforming that little corner of the yard, along the creek bank, from a mostly sunny garden into a garden with zones of sun and shade. Eventually all the plants that need lots of sunshine will have to be relocated. Here are a couple more photos from the front garden, taken this afternoon before the storm clouds began to roll in:

photos by Aisling, June 2, 2007 1) Scarlette O'Hara Peony; 2) Dark Rose Pansy; 3) Weigela, cultivar unknown