Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shade garden

I've been saving photos from my June garden walks to use on days like this--dreary, cold and colorless. This isn't my garden, altho I wish it was.

This back yard garden was all open shade. The first thing that I noticed when I rounded the corner at the rear of the property was the heavenly scent. Four huge clumps of white astilbe perfumed the garden (somehow I didn't get a photo of them). Who knew astilbe were so fragrant?

Answering some questions on previous postings.
The wild berries below belong to the
Smilax lasioneura
Carrion Flower Vine
which is not common in this area.

The deer in the previous post are fallow deer and are approx 30-39 inches tall at the shoulder. These are probably native to Europe altho I was not able to identify the exact variety and the origin.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


On this day set aside to honor our veterans, I'd like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the sacrifices they have made for us all. This includes both my grandfathers who served in the Army in WWI; my father who served in the Air Force in WWII; and my brother and sister who served in the Army in Vietnam. Thank you and God bless.

We have an adopt a soldier campaign going on here. Everyone is urged to donate items to send overseas to our military. Soldiers back from deployment say the smallest things like junk food and powered drink mixes are morale boosters and help them remember the folks back home are thinking of them. If you can, donate in your area and put a smile on the face of a service man far from home.


In a few brief days we go from the scene above to the one below.

The trees are bare, the leaves are on the ground. This Friday it was my mission to move them off the grass. I know it sounds foolish to rake leaves in a 30-mph wind, but I can't always pick my times. In the end there were leaves in my hair, leaves in my shoes and down the back of my neck, but the majority were on the gardens. It may not have been an efficient job of leaf removal but it felt good to be outside using my muscles and breathing the fresh air.

In fact I have a limitless need for leaves and often pick up bags set at the curb for the trash haulers. These bags go into one of the barns to save for mulch on next spring's gardens. It's hard to believe anyone would go to the trouble to neatly bag this lovely stuff and set it out to be hauled away.

This is my window tree.

Robert Frost wrote...

Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.
Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.
That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.

Later I took a drive up to Janesville, Wisconsin to visit a scrapbooking store. Some scenes along the way...

My resident hawk surveys his domain from high atop a telephone post. Magnificent creature, but not welcome at my bird feeders.

The seed pods below are Euonymus atropurpurea growing in the hedgerows along my lane. A rather nondescript little tree until it produces these pretty pink pods.

Interesting non-native residents like this shaggy llama can be seen along the back roads around my farm. Actually, llamas originated here in North America about 40 million years ago and remained until fairly recently. Before the last ice age occured , many had migrated to South America. After the glaciers receded, none were left in North America.

These tiny black deer, which I can't identify, are diffinitley not natives. They are smaller than our white tails, even smaller than a goat. This photo was taken from a very long distance. Wish I could have gotten closer. If anybody knows anything about these deer, please tell me.

I hope you are enjoying beautiful autumn weather where ever you are. We are having a spell of indian summer here. No way of knowing how long it will last so making the most of these warm, sunny days.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The back roads

The back roads of northern Illinois are a wonderful source of inspiration and beauty. Often, I grab a camera and just drive aimlessly looking at whatever scenes appear over the next hill.

I wonder when I see a sky like this. What causes those patterns and color variations? Is it the wind that swirls and spirals the clouds?

The wonderful stories these old barns could tell. Think of the history they've seen--good times and bad. The men who built them and worked the land, growing old and dying there. Sad to see so many of the big old barns slowly falling. Too expensive to maintain.

Autumn grass has a special grace. It's constant movement is hypnotic.

Milkweed seed was blowing everywhere. It glistened in the sunlight as it drifted above the grass.

Brightly colored flower petals are gone. The seeds hang on waiting for just the right moment to let go.

This little donkey was happy to see me when I offered her pieces of smashed Halloween pumpkin.

I avoid the highways and interstates. How could getting somewhere fast be better than driving slowly through scenes like this one?