Thursday, July 31, 2008

Natural Things

playground on the beach

waves crash, wind moves through the trees

happy children laugh

~ Aisling, July 30, 2008

Our town is having their annual four-day summer festival. A midway has been squeezed into a parking lot near the marina, giving Ferris wheel riders a glimpse of sailboats and sparkling water. Events, from concerts to races, contests to full-scale dinners, have been planned to fill the days with idyllic summer fun.

Yesterday, my boys took a couple of rides at the midway and then, reluctantly, set the rest of their tickets aside for another day. We walked down to the playground on the beach. I sat on a bench and watched as they ran from one play structure to another. Other children were playing there too. A little girl with white-blond hair skipped proudly in a white gauze skirt. One torn flounce fluttered behind her in the breeze, like the most elegant train. Before we headed back to the heart of town, where a band was playing in the street, the boys wanted to dip their toes in the lake. The sheltered harbor on one of the Great Lakes had faded from aquamarine to pale bluish gray in the time we were there. The sun was setting behind a bank of white clouds with sun beams streaming down in the way that always makes me think of angels descending. Even my nine year old son appreciated the beauty of that sky. "I wish I had a camera!" he exclaimed, "That looks really cool!"

After "just one more time down the slide, Mom," we walked barefoot along the sand and up the blacktop trail to the edge of the park, where we sat down in the grass to put on our sandals. We had started back to town when suddenly my five year old shouted, "I forgot my kiwi!" I was confused, until he ran back to the grassy spot where we put our shoes on and grabbed a wispy bit of "seaweed" he had been carrying around.

While I sat, listening to my sons and the other children laugh and call to one another in bright loud voices that harmonized like music with the sounds of wind and water, I composed the little haiku that began this post. It will have to serve as my "photograph" of the moment, my memory keeper, for I didn't have a camera on hand. I don't always capture such moments in haiku, but I do try to hold them in memory. I used to tell my daughters, when a camera was needed but not available, "I guess I'll have to take a picture with my heart." With four children, growing so fast and so beautifully, my memory is overflowing with heart-pictures.


The photo above is from my garden, where the crib my children once slept in has been re-purposed as a trellis. It wasn't in good enough shape to save for other generations. This is liatris, Kobold blue, taken July 27, 2008 by Aisling

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - The Morning After

On Sunday Afternoon:
The Morning After:

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, go to Wordless Wednesday Headquarters.

photos by Aisling, July 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Stroll Invitation

Somehow, summer seems to be all about rain. If one plans an outdoor event, one is hoping it does not rain. In drought, as the green in the garden withers and grays, one prays for rain. When rain falls for too many days in a row, one prays it will space itself out a little better. Generally speaking, we're happy with rain, we just prefer that it fall according to our agenda.

We are having normal, to perhaps slightly above normal, rainfall this year. After some dry years, normal feels pretty wet. It was raining again here, after a beautiful sunrise that burst, with beams of streaming light, through early morning clouds. I don't mind being out in the rain, if the rain is gentle and the air is warm. And I really enjoy a barefoot walk through rain-drenched grass, photographing glistening wet blossoms.

I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains. One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness. ~Adeline Knapp

If you have time this week for a Sunday Stroll, please post about about it on your blog and then come back here with a comment and a link to your post. You may use the Sunday Stroll button at the top of this post on your post or side bar if you would like. I will add participant names to this post so other strollers can walk through your garden too. I'll check back often and try to keep the list updated.

Look who's strolling:

Margaret at Periodic Pearls

Abbie at Farmer's Daughter

The Crafty Gardener at The Garden Side

Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm

Me here at The Quiet Country House

Robin at A Fondness for Reading


Sunday Stroll - A World of Loveliness

Morning broke through the rain clouds, bringing a few light showers before a day of wind and hazy sunshine.

There is a lot of red, orange and purple in the front garden now. This year's first Autumn Red Daylily opened this morning. Purple Coneflower and one of my Buddleia (Butterfly Bush) are bursting into bloom as well. This photo isn't very focused, but I like the way the plants are intertwined and making their own bouquet. Night Beacon, another of my dark daylilies, is floating boldly above its yellow-green foliage.

The yellow hyperion daylilies are making a cheerful statement in several locations in the butterfly garden. The first bright blue stars of balloon flowers are opening amid the swelling balloons of the many blossoms which will follow. Tiny cosmos, the "offsprings" of last year's full-sized Cosmos, are blooming amid the iris leaves and beneath a petite dappled-willow.

Our roses are becoming lost amid the tangle of fragrant tea herbs, but two coral beauties have emerged to remind us that they are still there. I cannot say what cultivar these are. The original rose, grafted to a hardy root stock, died off after the first season. These coral red roses have appeared each year since.

photos by Aisling, July 27, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Beautiful Thursday Afternoon

wind taps the window

dances through the room singing

come outside to play

~ a haiku, by Aisling, July 24, 2008

Most of the day, I've been in the house cleaning. I've scrubbed the inside of the refrigerator, done several loads of laundry, and done some reorganizing in my bedroom. I'm accomplishing some things that are long overdue, but the beautiful day is calling to me. When this next sinkful of dishes is done, I think I'll go outside and pull some weeds in the garden. I'll take a look around and see what is ready to harvest so that I may plan dinner. I may even wander over to the "berry bramble" and nibble a few golden raspberries.

Where-ever you are, whatever the weather, I hope you enjoy the beauty of the day.

photo by Aisling, Thundercloud Plum & today's beautiful blue sky

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Water and Sunshine

To see a lot more Wordless Wednesday fun, go here.

photo by Aisling, July 10, 2008, raindrop and sunshine on a cabbage leaf in the garden.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Stroll - Deep Summer

Despite a few days of above average temperatures in our region, there is color, variety and freshness in the garden. Here in the northern Great Lakes region, the "dog days of summer" are sultry, and hot, and ablaze with color. My photos today offer a little glimpse of what I found in three of my gardens.

In the front garden

In the butterfly garden

In the moon garden

photos by Aisling, July 20, 2008, 1) petunias in the front garden 2) Little Grapette Daylily 3) Coreopsis Baby Sun 4)Pink Larkspur and more Baby Sun 5) Cannes Lily and Asclepius 6) Miniature Delphinium, cult. Blue Butterfly 7) Easter Lily 8) Buds of White Phlox, David, in front of Silver Artemesia

Sunday Stroll Invitation

Since I was a child, I have heard the phrase "the dog days of summer" and understood them to mean the sweltering, sultry days of July and August. Further inquiry reveals that the phrase is related to the rising of the dog star, Sirius, in conjunction with the sun. The dog days of summer literally refers to the period of time 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction. Ancient superstions linked the oppressive heat, spoilage of food, increased disease, etc. with the conjuction of the brightest star of night with the bright day-star. You can read more here. As a gardener, those dog days are the hot days when the color in the bloom fades too fast and blossoms - and the gardener - sag with the heat.

"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." ~Sam Keen

If you have time this week for a Sunday Stroll, please post about about it on your blog and then come back here with a comment and a link to your post. You may use the Sunday Stroll button at the top of this post on your post or side bar if you would like. I will add participant names to this post so other strollers can walk through your garden too. I'll check back often and try to keep the list updated.

Look who's strolling:

Dee at Red Dirt Ramblings

The Crafty Gardener at The Garden Side

Margaret at Periodic Pearls

Joyce at Tall Grass Worship

Mibsy at Classical Calling

Me, here at The Quiet Country House

Abbie at Farmer's Daughter

Diana at My Quiet Place in the Country

Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm (Strolling on Monday)


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Patience Rewarded

the gardener waits
the bud softens with color
the flower unfurls

~ a haiku, by Aisling, July 17, 2008

These photos, which I took today, are of the Asiatic lily Cannes, one of my favorites (aren't they all?!) In the background, the orange flowers are asclepius, or butterfly weed. Love that too!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Pink & Green

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, check out Wordless Wednesday HeadQuarters.

photo by Aisling, July 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Home Stretch

Almost a year ago, beginning late last August, our family embarked on an interesting new adventure. In typical Quiet Country fashion, this was not a loud, exciting adventure full of bells and whistles, or glitz and glamour. It was rather, the family-oriented adventure of opening our home to an exchange student.

Let's call her Sonnet, for being part of the family she should have a poetry name like the rest of us, at least for blogging purposes. Sonnet, our beautiful Turkish daughter, lived here from August until January. At that point, in accordance with the terms of this particular exchange program, she moved to a second family. My two little boys flung themselves to the floor and wept when she moved.

We didn't see her as much during the following months as we would have liked. Haiku and Senryu still saw her at school, but her second host family kept her very busy. They went to sporting events and got manicures and pedicures and went to the city somewhat frequently. There wasn't a lot of extra time for her to come over for dinner, or to spend the night, though she did so a couple of times.

Three months later, she moved again. Sonnet's third host family was an older couple whose children were grown. By this time, she had a good strong circle of friends which included two German exchange students. For the last month of her exchange, Sonnet moved back in with us. That wasn't the original plan, but her third host family had a trip planned during the last days of Sonnet's exchange. Early in June, she took a trip that the exchange program organized to several cities on the east coast, and then has been with us since that time.

Sonnet is almost exactly between my girls in age. Through all of these months, since the first few awkward days in the beginning passed, Sonnet and Haiku have been like sisters. Like a typical older sister, Senryu has been by turns helpful, annoyed, amused, or tolerant of the two younger girls.

Now we are in the home stretch of this life-changing experience, with less than a week remaining of Sonnet's stay. I don't think the boys will be the only ones to fling themselves down to cry when she leaves. When Senryu left on her exchange to Taiwan, almost two years ago now, we all cried like babies at the airport. We had some difficult times, worrying and wondering about her, while she was gone, but we knew she would be coming home (although I have to admit, it was a very long year!) With Sonnet, we don't have that comfort.

We have learned quite a bit about Turkish culture this year. But, and I think this is the whole point, you really learn most about human nature during a cultural exchange. You learn more about what you have in common than about the differences in your cultures. We have shared so much in these months: tears, laughter and so many stories.

This week, I am making the things Sonnet has loved to eat while she was here: pasta salad, brownies, snickerdoodles. The girls are re-watching movies that they enjoyed watching together. Sonnet and Haiku are walking, one last time, to the tiny lake to lay on the dock in the northern sunshine. We are taking family photos, while we are still a family of seven all living together in the Quiet Country House.

"In unsettled times like these, when world cultures, countries and religions are facing off in violent confrontations, we could benefit from the reminder that storytelling is common to all civilizations. Whether in the form of a sprawling epic or a pointed ballad, the story is our most ancient method of making sense out of experience and of preserving the past. "

~ William Collins

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday Muse - Blogs that Inspire

If the blogroll on my right sidebar were a bookshelf, then Trailing Light would be an elegant, slender volume of poetry. This is the poetry blog of Beyond the Fields We know author, Cate. There are exquisite photographs and eloquent poems - haiku and free verse. Each entry is thought provoking, and as with her other blog, one must slow down, hold very still, and savor the moments as one reads Cate's nearly flawless writing.

Two Frog Home is the online home of Kathie, who once wrote the blog "Simple Katie." I've long enjoyed reading her simple, practical tips for budget-friendly, earth friendly living. I guess you could say, she's just plain friendly! She keeps a running tally of the food she has put up for long term storage and points readers toward practical advice elsewhere on the web. Recently, she and her husband have moved into a new home. I look forward to watching them turn their new property into a small scale homestead. Kathie's friendly, well-written narratives, keep me coming back, with interest, time and time again.

This spring, I made a colorful new friend via this blogging community. Linda, of Vulture Peak Muse, is a talented artist who lives in California. Her gorgeous paintings are alive with saturated color. Though health issues sometimes prevent Linda from participating in our Sunday Strolls, when she does her photographs have a special artistic flair. Her blog is a carnival of color and beauty: from roses lit by a golden sun, to a black and white border collie named Belle, to vivid, arresting artwork.

photo by Aisling, gazania July 10, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Stroll Invitation

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."
~John Burroughs

If you have time this week for a Sunday Stroll, please post about about it on your blog and then come back here with a comment and a link to your post. You may use the Sunday Stroll button at the top of this post on your post or side bar if you would like. I will add participant names to this post so other strollers can walk through your garden too. I'll check back often and try to keep the list updated.

Look who's strolling:
Linda at
Vulture Peak Muse
Robbin at
Cedar Chest of Dreams
Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm
Me here at The Quiet Country House
Abbie at Farmer's Daughter
Joyce at Tall Grass Worship
Mibsy at Classical Calling
Amy at Embracing Change


Sunday Stroll - Lack of Focus

With low batteries in my camera and a great deal of gusty wind, my stroll today was more about the walk, than the photographs. Rather than struggling to take photographs of the white lilies that opened this morning, or the emerging coneflowers on their leggy stalks, Haiku and I decided to walk down to the lake. The skies over head were brilliant blue and speckled with clouds. We walked through the meadows, on the trail that threads between stalks of clover and Queen Anne's Lace, daisies and St. Johnswort.

At the lake shore, wild roses are blooming. The strong wind carried their sweet fragrance to me as I teetered on the dock stretching for a good photograph, and then carried it past me into the mossy woods. These pictures are blurry at best, but perhaps they still convey a sense of how the day felt in our Quiet Corner of the world.

We sat on the dock for a slow stretch of time, serenaded by the music of the wind rushing over and under a hundred thousand leaves, and enjoyed the beauty of the day.

all photos by Aisling, except #2 which is by Haiku. 1) field and sky 2) and old cultipacker 3) wild St. Johnswort 4) wild roses and joepye on the lake shore 5) one wild rose 6) the eastern shore of the tiny lake near our home

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Country Dance

corn stalks wave their leaves

silver and blue oat fields sway

partners in the dance

~ a haiku, by Aisling, July 10, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Gems in the Garden

For more Wordless Wednesday Fun, look here.

photos by Aisling, July 9, 2008 1) green tomato 2) tiny green tomato on shimmery vine 3) tiny green fly 4) a knot on a string that marks a row in the garden

Monday, July 07, 2008

Monday Muse - Blogs

I've found over the last couple of years that I would rather read blogs than magazines. I find them an abundant source of inspiration. No matter what new interest I might develop, someone is blogging about it. Some of the best blogs I've found, have been discovered by linking through other favorite blogs. It is like meeting "a friend of a friend." Right away, you know you have something in common, because this blogger you are meeting has the good taste to read and interact with one of your blogging friends.

I believe I first met Joyce of Tall Grass Worship through my long time friend Nan's blog, Letters from a Hill Farm. Joyce has been a welcome addition to our Sunday Strolls. I love the sense of reverence with which Joyce always seems to write. Even when she is disgruntled over Japanese Beetles invading her garden, or "progress" digging holes in her neighborhood, her good humor and thoughtfulness shine through her writing.

The Bunnies Bungalow is the blogging home of Debra K. Reading her posts, a reader gets a real sense of a compassionate, nurturing woman, who is, among other things, very skilled at creating a cozy nest...or burrow. Debra's mother is dealing with the incredibly sad condition of Alzheimer's Disease, and so, Debra is dealing with it too. Her posts will tug at your heartstrings, but her strength and grace will inspire. You can also link from her blog to her shop, where she sells sweet little vintage treasures.

The next blog listed on my sidebar is "The Dolphin Cove." Chellie's blog is now "Chellie's Cove" but despite the name change, her blog remains the same friendly spot to visit. The longing for serenity that she mentions on her blog header is just one interest that Chellie and I share. We also have a dear mutual friend, Robbin of Cedar Chest of Dreams. I have seen, over the past few months, that in addition to writing an interesting and personal blog, Chellie is a wonderful, constant, supportive friend. What more could you ask for?

photo by Aisling, July 7, 2008 False Sunflower, heliopsis

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sundary Stroll Invitation

"To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do wtih the way you see them." ~ Elliot Erwitt

I walk through my gardens often, as you may have noticed. Sometimes, I am assessing the condition of the gardens, to determine what work needs to be done. Sometimes, I am just enjoying the day, fine weather or a few moments of quiet. It is when I walk with a camera in my hand, that I slow down and focus on what is beautiful. I don't notice the big bare spot in the garden where nothing is blooming. Instead, I notice the one exquisite blossom nodding on a delicate stalk. I see the honey bee that just landed on a translucent petal. I watch dew drip from one leaf to another. I am learning, as Elliot Erwitt defines it, the art of observation.

If you have time this week for a Sunday Stroll, please post about about it on your blog and then come back here with a comment and a link to your post. You may use the Sunday Stroll button at the top of this post on your post or side bar if you would like. I will add participant names to this post so other strollers can walk through your garden too. I'll check back often and try to keep the list updated.

Look who's strolling:
Margaret at Periodic Pearls

Sunday Stroll - The Colors of the Day

Chicory are blooming along the roadsides, but their shades of blue are not the predominate color story in our landscape in these early days of July. The native viburnum are blooming and the wild edges of our property, the fields and back hill, are awash in white. Closer to the ground, another level of white, where the wild yarrow blooms. And in the garden, a large patch of white Arctic Daisies, seen here beside the buds of the orange daylily, is the social hub for honey bees and other nectar seekers.

Though white is predominate in the uncultivated areas, pink is making a statement in the garden. The faintest hint of pink colors the one blossom on a young black-lace elderberry bush, while nearby audacious splashes of pink cover the spirea.

The blanket flowers, so pretty in bud, are beginning to bloom in bold orange and yellow profusion. A single bloom of wild white campion has hidden herself away in their midst, echoing the white splendor of the viburnum in the wild edges.

photos by Aisling, July 6, 2008