Workin’

Beltane                                                                       Beltane Moon

Flagged off my Latin tutor for this Friday.  Bees, garden, retreat, finishing Missing combined to soak up my good work time.  To do well at the Latin I have to have a full day; it takes me awhile to turn on the neural network that recognizes cases, remembers Ovid’s peculiarities and enjoys the play of connotation and denotation.  Once I get in that place, which may take as much as a morning, then I can translate faster, with more facility.  But.  I need that unbroken time.  Just the way I work.

Rain kept me out of the garden last Thursday so I’ve got to out there right now and plant potatoes and chard.  The garden’s looking good, daffodils and tulips, bleeding heart and hosta, pachysandra and maiden-hair ferns greeting the strawberry blossoms, the asparagus spears, the green shafts of the allium family:  onion, shallot, garlic and the small leaves of the emerging beets.

Today, too, is another round in the Can I keep Gertie in the yard game?  I added another wire and plan yet more moves.  I’m smarter; she’s more persistent.  An equal match so far.

Bee and Garden Diary

Mid-Summer                                                                                          Waning Garlic Moon

Today I performed partial hive box reversals in all three colonies.  The second hive box of three gets rotated to the bottom and the first or bottom box rotates up to take its place.  This means that all the hive boxes have to be moved, so it is a labor intensive activity, especially so now that some honey has begun to be stored.  One hive box was very heavy, my back a bit reluctant.  Having done that I checked the top box on colony 1 and the top two honey supers in colonies 2 and 3.  None of these have much honey.

Since I put queen excluders on 2 and 3, I pulled those off, intending to leave them off for a couple of days.  At the hobby bee-keeper meetings I’m told this is a common way to get the bees to move up into the honey supers.  I’ll put the queen excluders back on maybe Wednesday.  Since I reversed the bottom and second hive boxes, there’s not much chance the queen will get up there.

So far the bee season seems to have hurdled the early cold and rain and settled into a more normal pattern.

The potatoes and leeks both have mounds around their stalks now, blanching for the leeks and more space for the potato plants to produce tubers.  A lot of gardening tasks are very time sensitive and these were among them.  When the potato plants flower (now), they begin to set the tubers.  As the leeks grow, only the parts covered by soil will blanch, turn white, and be useful for cooking.  As the young apples begin to grow, the bags have to go on before the apple maggots come out to play.  Also now.

The bees, too, require definite care and different kinds of care all through early spring and summer, then less attention around now, when the honey flow begins.  Later in August will come extraction, then preparation of colony 1 for overwintering.  Gonna try one more time.  Colonies 2 and 3 will move out near the truck lane, into the sunny part.  That’s for next year.

Our tomato plants started from seed have begun to mature, though they are far behind the two plants Kate bought at the green barn.  Those plants have blooms and green tomatoes.  It remains to be seen whether we’ll get any tomatoes from the others.

We’ve harvested one full planting of spinach, several of lettuce, some sugar snap peas and just this week, lots of strawberries.  We have onions, carrots, beets, more lettuce and spinach, plus pole and bush beans all underway.  There are cherries and plums in the orchard in addition to the apples and the raspberry canes are in good mid-season form.  We’re going to have a good season as we continue to learn how to use our garden to complement and supplement what we buy at the grocery store.

Another Northern Summer Day

Summer                             Full Strawberry Moon

The full strawberry moon, evocative.  Our strawberries have wound down  for this season, but we enjoyed them while they ripened.  I had blueberries on cereal this morning, blueberries from our patch.  Finished the  planting for a third harvest:  beans, spinach, swiss chard, beets:  golden and detroit red and carrots.

Kate has been picking  currants like a woman possessed.  She has I don’t know how many and won’t rest until all five bushes are clean.  That’s a lot of currants.  Last year I couldn’t even spell currant and now I have more than I know what to do with.

The whole garden, including the bees, has proved a bit much this year.  The longer season didn’t help, it got stuff off to an early start, ahead of me.  Plugging away though.  I’ll probably get back to even about time to put the sucker to bed for the winter.

Hilo helped me plant, each hour with her more precious now that we know her days will wink out in the not too distant future.

Minnesota: Where We Are

Beltane                                   Waxing Strawberry Moon

Had another bowl of strawberries fresh from the patch, grown under the Strawberry Moon.  There’s something special about food that comes from your own land, nurtured by your own hands, a something special beyond the nutritional and taste benefits.  It relates to be who you are because of where you are.  We’re a Seven Oaks family and you can’t be a Seven Oaks family if you live in Ohio.

I had another frisson of this yesterday when I sat in the Minnesota Environmental Partnership offices and looked across the conference table to a black and white photograph of a boundary waters lake.  Since I shifted my political work to the environmental and away from the economic four years ago, I have sat in meeting after meeting (the unglamorous fact of political life) dedicated to making this state’s overall environment better in some way.  Seeing that photograph as we discussed initiatives for energy in Minnesota, the context for our work snapped into place.

We’re talking about our home, this place, the place where we are who we are because we are here.  You could say a gestalt of the work gelled.

Been a little down since yesterday’s stop by the policeman.  It embarrasses me, as it is supposed to do, and calls the rest of my life into question, which it is not.  Then, my Latin tutoring session today found me floundering, wondering where my mind had been when the rest of me engaged this week’s translation from English to Latin.  Mix it up with the fact that I missed my nap yesterday and my exercise.  Result:  glum. In spite of the sun.

So. Exercise now.  It always makes me feel better.

My Bad

Beltane                                    Waxing  Strawberry Moon

Well.  It seems I have the wrong moon for this month.  Even though my listing of moon names included Hungry Ghost as one for this month, further research reveals that in the Chinese calendar the seventh month falls over the August/September time period.  I imagine this is because the Chinese New Year typically happens in mid-February.  Sorry about the confusion.  We’re return to Hungry Ghost in the appropriate time.  Here’s a teaser from the China Daily:

Much like Western culture’s Halloween, some Eastern cultures celebrate a Fall festival where they believe the gates of hell are thrown open, releasing hungry ghosts to wander the earth in search of food and taking revenge upon those who wronged them in life. This month-long festival is known as the Hungry Ghost Festival and takes place during the 7th lunar month.

Unlike other celebrations of the dead in Eastern cultures that seek to honor dead ancestors, the Hungry Ghost Festival seeks to pacify the hungry ghosts, the ghosts of strangers and the un-cared-for dead. These are the ghosts of those who died by their own hands, by accidents, by drowning or hanging who have been denied entry into heaven. Angry because they are forced to dwell in hell without food or comfort, when released, they search for souls to take their place in misery.

To Taoists(道教徒) and Buddhists(佛教徒), these evil spirits are not to be taken lightly. They are most active at night and can take many forms including: snakes, moths(蛾), birds, foxes, wolves, and tigers. They can even appear as beautiful men or women to seduce the living. When they possess an individual by entering the body they cause illness and mental disorders.

Throughout this month, to keep the angry spirits amused, people stage street operas and other forms of public entertainment. In the past, people did not view the street operas as they were performed only for ghosts. Other rituals(典礼,仪式)are performed to help souls enter into heaven. Taoists do their best to avoid late nights away from these amusements and rituals to steer clear of the evil spirits. To appease these wandering spirits, Buddhists and Taoists burn bundles of joss sticks, paper hell money, food, and other offerings by the roadside. Communities along rivers or near the sea float lanterns in the shape of the lotus or carved from fruit or gourds in the water to guide them away from their homes. They follow the lanterns from the river bank or sea shore till they can no longer be seen. This is done to redeem the soul of those who died by drowning.

The most important days of this month are the 14th and 15th, the days of the great feasts. On the 14th, a great feast would be held to honor family ancestors. Prayers and offerings would be made at family altars. On the following night, the 15th, they would feast for the hungry ghosts. Held outside under the full moon, these feasts feed the evil spirits so that they will leave the living alone and bribe(贿赂) the ancestors for luck with money and the harvest.

A Good Day

Samhain                                     Full Dark Moon

Rigel and Vega spent much of the day defending us from visiting neighborhood dogs.  Of course, thanks to our record setting fence-lines no battle could be joined, but jaw-boning was much in evidence.  This evening they came in, flopped down on the couch and went to sleep.  That is except for the show on birth and babies in the animal kingdom.  Rigel turned her head toward the TV and watched a mule-deer born, penguins enfolding their single chicks and musk-ox turn to face down the white wolves of the Arctic.  Would loved to have been inside her head.

Kate worked outside today, weeding the blue-berry patches and other parts of the orchard.  The good news is the clover has become established and has choked out the weeds.  The bad news is that the clover threatens to choke out the blue-berries.  Sigh.  She is only two weeks out from her procedure tomorrow.  Amazing.

Our defended (defenced?) vegetable garden can now be worked without fear that a Rigel or a Vega will come along later and try to emulate any digging I might have done.  Their work is not up to my exacting standards.  The last greens came out today with the exception of some Swiss Chard that still has vitality.  All that’s left in the garden now are strawberry plants, asparagus, garlic, parsnip and carrots.  The first two are perennials, the latter three crops from this year that can stay in the ground for a while, carrots, or need to over winter, the parsnip and garlic.

I couldn’t bring myself to patch the damage from the dogs.  It is quite extensive and I find myself reactive when I work on it.  It will keep until next spring.

Then of course there was the Vikings-Packer game.  Our defense had a bit of a let down late in the third quarter and the first part of the fourth, but they played brilliantly otherwise.  So did Favre.  At one point a Packer named Jennings fell on the Viking sideline very near Favre.  Favre’s concern and his action, bending down to see how Jenning’s was, moved me.  He seems to genuinely care for his team mates both current and former.  He also plays like a little boy, jumping and waving his arms, picking up players who’ve just scored a touchdown.

After the game he had an interview in which he spoke warmly of the Packers and the fans there.  It was a mature and sensitive moment.

It’s fun to see him play as a Viking.  Didn’t think I’d feel that way, but I do.