Thursday, April 30, 2015

April (Snow) Showers Bring May Flowers

Spring is very short in the North and there is so much to be done.

Today I weeded and fertilized the asparagus and rhubarb with compost and chicken manure from my sister's chickens. I turned the compost pile, which was teeming with wonderful red worms, and unearthed a baby vole. After it righted itself and became accustomed to the light it slowly meandered off, nose to dirt. Even though I'm not having a vegetable garden this year it seems like there is plenty of work to do, mostly caring for the perennials.

When it's too dark to work outside I'm planning our route to South Carolina. Some of it will have to be traveled on Interstate highways because we have a limited amount of time, but some of it will also be on the "blue highways," the backroads, the ones that follow the routes through small towns that were America before the Interstate highway system came into being and created an America all their own.

If you know of a good travel app or website for the US, especially one for the blue highways to help with planning our trip, please share. It's a special trip for us, and we don't want to miss anything fun! So far we have Iowa's Largest Frying Pan to visit, as well as the future birthplace of Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame and a few others.

I've been enjoying a book called A Field Guide to Happiness, What I Learned in Bhutan about Living, Loving, and Waking Up by Linda Leaming. Bhutan has been called "the happiest place on earth" and the book is humorous but also full of wisdom. I'll leave you with quote I like from the book.

"Acceptance is so much a part of being happy.

First of all, accept who you are in all of your misshapen glory; and then accepting others is a piece of cake.

Mmmm, cake!"

Happy May Day!


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Walk in the Park

A week ago it was snowing and the ground was white for a day and a night.

Since then, spring has been making its way north.




No leaves on the birches deep in the woods yet.









The first woodland flowers of spring, the bloodroot, have just opened.











Along the marsh the faintest and softest greens increase daily







... just like the willows on the banks of the lake.









No warblers yet, but the Canada geese and mallard ducks are pairing up and defending territory.







We enjoyed a picnic of Chinese take-out (triple mushroom pork to be exact) on a rock in the sun and then had a 3-mile hike for dessert.

A perfect way to spend a few hours of a perfect spring day.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Falls of St Anthony, Minneapolis

Viewed from the Guthrie Theater, St Anthony Falls, the small settlement that was to become the city of Minneapolis, glows in the spring sun.

The Falls of St. Anthony by Albert Bierstadt

The largest falls on the Mississippi River first became known to the world in 1680 when their beauty was published in a journal by Father Louis Hennepin, an early explorer and Catholic friar of Belgian birth. Father Hennepin is also the one to write about Niagara Falls and bring them to the world's attention.

Indian tribes portaged their canoes on their trade route, the Mississippi River, and practiced their sacred ceremonies on this site from time unknown. When the white explorers discovered the area, the falls became a tourist attraction and source of power for lumber mills, then the flour mills that made Minneapolis "the flour capital of the world" from 1880 to 1930.

Photos by Paul deVere

Locks and dams were added along the great river between 1937 and 1963 to make it navigable by the ships and barges carrying goods from the Midwest 2030 miles downstream to the port of New Orleans.

It's still exciting to sit in the park along the river bank and watch the huge chains of barges powered by a single towboat through the lock and take in all the beauty of Minneapolis and the great Mississippi River.

Thanks for visiting my blog today. I love reading your comments and will visit your blog in return.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Times They Are A-Changing


I'm a really big planner. I thought I had my retirement plans pretty much set, and I certainly had no clue that only a year and a half into it those plans, and my life, would change so radically.

Apricot blossoms


First of all, I will not be planting a garden this year. I have raised much of my family's food for the last 40+ years and in spring, summer, and fall my life has revolved around planning crops, planting, harvesting, and preserving. I may grow a few things in pots, but it won't be in Minnesota.





Nanking cherry blossoms


Second, I thought that I would live out the rest of my life right here in Minnesota, in the same house I have lived in for the last 28 years, near my daughters and grandchildren, sister and brother-in-law, and dear friends.







And third, it was my dream to travel to places local and foreign, dreaming that had sustained me through all the ups and downs of years of a demanding career.

I was quite satisfied with this life, doing all these things, happily reading all the books I'd had to put off when I was teaching, babysitting grandchildren, traveling near home, taking one big trip a year.


What's that saying, life is what happens while you are busy making plans?

I never in my wildest dreams imagined that the young man I started my adult life with would return to finish my life with me. And of course, now I can't imagine anything that would make me happier!

We were partners, part of each others' lives for 7 or 8 years, built a house together in the Carolina mountains with our own four hands, lived a life few could imagine. But then he began to yearn for the Big City and a career other than goat milker and carpenter and I'm a country girl and couldn't imagine a life in the city. We parted ways, each going on to raise a family 1300 miles apart, losing track of each other completely. Then, thanks to the wonders of technology, social media, and his extreme persistence, he tracked me down, and the rest is, well, my own personal Last Tango in Halifax story.

So, I will be continuing to write my blog but soon most of my stories will be from the Low Country of South Carolina rather than the prairies of Minnesota, from a little house on an island with a view of a tidal flat and pluff mud outside my back porch, with two big dogs at my feet and my cat probably permanently hidden under a bed. (Rosie has never met a dog, much less two BIG ones. She will soon.)


I do hope y'all will come along!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Sightings of Spring Up North

Yesterday evening I was excited to see this beautiful cock pheasant stroll across the road and through my front garden, looking like he knew exactly where he was going. I used to see pheasants in winter all the time under my bird feeders, but I haven't seen one for years, not since the cornfields began to disappear as suburbia encroaches.

Ring-necked pheasants were imported from China to the United States in 1881 and released in Minnesota in 1916. They are big -- 20-36 inches long including the tail, and brightly colored. We often see them in cornfields, especially in the winter, and also eating grit at the side of the road.

My dad and grandpa went pheasant hunting one fall and bagged their first pheasant when it crashed through the windshield and wound up in my dad's lap along with a lot of glass. Didn't even need to use their guns!

I think this guy is going to visit a lady.

This morning at the coffee shop these two waited outside for their owner to return. It seemed a little cool to me (40sF) for traveling with the top down, but Minnesotans are so impatient for spring to get going, it's hard to wait.






I hope you are enjoying some beautiful signs of spring where you live if you are a resident of the northern hemisphere.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Look Up St Paul

There is a website called that sells eguides for walking tours of US cities for 99 cents each. I have purchased and used the two for Minnesota largest cities. Generally, they give an overview of the history and provide a walking route, pointing out sights that would appeal to adults and older children.

But. (Isn't there always a but?) And maybe it's just me, BUT they don't always point out what I find most interesting.


The guides are called Look Up ________ but they don't really encourage you to look up. I started out following the St Paul guide one day but ended up spending my time in one area and actually looking upward.

Here's my version of looking up at St Paul, from about a one block area in the area of Rice Park.






Lawson Commons Building far left. Not sure what the others are, but a variety of styles.










Frieze above entrance to Depression era Art Deco City Hall and County Courts.


This city street scene shows a police officer, mail carrier, newsboy, blind man, elderly couple, laborer -- showing the diversity of the city's residents.



The Hamm Building on the left. Building began just before World War I and ended abruptly when the war started and funds dried up. The Hamm family (of beer fame : From the land of sky blue wa-aters, comes the beer refreshing, Hamm's the beer refreshing.... ) stepped in to finish the mammoth building as business offices for their brewery.











Landmark Center, old St Paul Federal Building and Post Office










Pedestrian mall between two major streets
I can't resist providing the original Hamm's Beer commercial for you. It is my first memory of tv (my grandparents's tv). There was no programming for kids but I would come running when I heard the first notes of this song to sing along. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

Signs of new life in my sister and brother-in-law's Chicken Palace.





Raspberry pecan scones ready for the oven and Easter breakfast after the egg hunt.

(Rasberries from the garden via the freezer)













Daffodils to pick for the table







Happy Easter!


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Prairie Hike

This morning on the way back from the creamery I decided to stop at a county park and hike for an hour. The shoes I had on were okay, I had some gloves in the car, but the only camera I had was on my phone. Oh, well. It was a gorgeous morning, 34 degrees F, bright sunshine, cloudless sky, a pheasant clucking in the background as I strode out across the prairie.

I couldn't really see what the camera was catching so I just shot a bunch of photos blindly and looked at them when I got home. Hmmm, it seems the camera was on black and white mode.

I was disappointed but then I decided to play around with a photo editing app and see what I could come up with. It was kind of fun.



Thursday, April 2, 2015

It's About Time!

The 9 inches of snow we got last week melted

and spring is finally showing up here in the North.



Miniature iris, also called Dutch iris.





Raspberries, before pruning.



A work in progress -- the third year canes removed from the plants in the foreground. And that's where I will be working again today.






And the best news: the day after the last nine inches of snow finally departed, I librated the rhubarb bed from its winter cover of maple leaves and look what was already there!


If you remember how much my family loves rhubarb pie, you know I was doing a happy dance in the garden!




"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." - Margaret Atwood

No problem, I think I've got that covered!