• Tag Archives flowers
  • To Bee, To Do

    Mid-Summer                                                             Waning Honey Flow Moon

    Out to the bees in just a few minutes to slap on two more honey supers each, the six I finished varnishing yesterday while Mark put foundations in the frames.  This will find six honey supers on colonies 2 & 3, while colony 1, the parent colony for next year’s only divide, will have four.  Not sure if I’ll need more than these.  I’m having to do this in the early morning, not the best time, but the only time I’ve got today.

    At 9:15 Kate and I take off in separate cars for the Northern Clay Center.  Our clay intensive starts this week, 10:00 to 4:30.  I hope to learn how to make Japanese style tea cups and salad sized plates.  Like tai chi working clay puts a premium on hand-eye co-ordination and sense of touch as well overall design skills.

    A good while ago my spiritual journey had gone stale in the reading, meditation, contemplative modes I knew best. The next stage of my spiritual practice became gardening, working with the rhythm of flowers, soil, spades and trowels.

    That practice went on for many years when Kate and I decided to add vegetables and the orchard with permaculture principles in mind.  That added a good deal of oomph to the tactile spirituality, deciding to keep bees put animal husbandry into the mix.  At this point my spirituality has become more and more attuned to the rhythms of growing seasons, plants and bees, all within the context of the Celtic Great Wheel.

    With tai chi and clay my spiritual practice comes closer in again, my hands, my feet, my hips, my arms.  Both clay and tai chi are paths on this nature focused ancientrail, though for me they are quite a bit harder.  But that’s the push I need to grow.

    After our first day at Northern Clay, I have my Woolly meeting tonight at Highpoint Print co-operative where we will make prints.  One more step down the ancientrail of the mind/body link.

  • Anco Impari (I’m Still Learning. Goya)

    Beltane                                                                 Waning Last Frost Moon

    We continue sliding toward summer, a cool, moist descent, not at all like the sudden, blazing ascension we often see, usually full on in place by now, with sun screen and hats and pitchers of lemonade set out on patios.  At some point it will warm up, at least I think it will.  There have been years without summer, years when the weather remains much like what we have now, days cool in the morning, warming in the afternoon and falling off to cool nights.  Could be this will be one of those summers.

    I’ve worked this morning on Pentheus, the first few verses proving difficult for me, almost as if I’d entered a different text altogether though it’s only 300 verses away from Diana and Actaeon and in the same Book, III of XV.

    Something captivates me as I get into the Latin flow, the world tunes out; the text and I begin this tug of war, me digging, using dictionaries and online aids, the text resisting, remaining stubborn, not allowing its meaning to emerge without a struggle.  The tension between the text and me lies in the language of an ancient people and my learning, a tension requiring both, learning and the language.  Without some knowledge, there would be no tension.  If I had no learning, the words in Latin would sit immutable as stone, as strong a barrier to me.  If my learning were to the level of fluency, the text would not be a barrier at all, I would read as I do in English.  Instead, I’m in a middle place, knowing and learning at the same time, so the text became enticing, pulling me further into the journey, not only of Ovid’s texts, but of the others:  Cicero, Caesar, Livy, Martial, Tacitus, Horace, Seneca.

    The feeling reminds me of how I reacted to serious study of art history.  At first there was so much information, so many different aspects that I felt overwhelmed, as if I could never get my head above the surface of this great ocean of learning.  As time passed, as I walked the halls of the museum, read texts and looked at more and more art, a shaky gestalt began to form.  There was a rough chronology, even a global chronology.  There were styles and forms and methods and instances of all three.  At some point the Song Dynasty became separate from the Tang and the Han, just as the early Buddha images became distinct from the later ones of Tibet, Thailand, China.  Neoclassicism and impressionism began to tease themselves apart and appear as separate, thought related movements.  Beckman and Kandinsky and Monet and Barye and Poussin and Church and the master of the embroidered foliage sorted out into times and influences and basic tenets.

    (of course, like most of us, I’m a combination of autodidact and schooling, but since college, the autodidact part has definitely taken precedence.)

    Now I have a scaffolding on which I can hang new learning, it fits in a large gestalt, which, while far from comprehensive, at least describes the outlines, the places where there are gaps and the places where some new learning easily fits.

    Right now Ovid and his Metamorphoses are my teachers, aided by my tutor Greg Mambres and my own reading, learning.  My scaffolding is up, but it’s very shaky.  I have verb forms, conjugations, nouns, declensions, adverbs, participles, clauses, imperatives, word meanings, poetic forms but often I revisit and revisit the same learning, still not seeing with clarity where on the scaffold something belongs.

    It was the same with the garden, first flowers and then vegetables and is still now with the bees.  Large tracts of unknowing papered over by fragments of knowledge.  In bee-keeping for example I look at cells.  Hmmm. Those look like drone cells but maybe they’re queen cells.  Or maybe not.  Is it time to put on the second hive box?  Or, is it too early?  Should I use full-sized hive boxes or should I switch to honey supers to keep things lighter?  In gardening.  Just try planting garlic in the spring some year.  Won’t work.  It needs to over winter for a late June harvest.  Want a colorful spring and early summer?  Plant in the fall.  In the orchard I’m practicing IPM, integrated pest management, which means at this point, killing bugs by hand.

    What I’ve learned is that knowledge accumulates.  New knowledge needs a scaffolding, a chest of drawers, a memory palace so that it can become integrated.

  • A Garden Morning

    Beltane                                   New Moon (Hungry Ghost)

    The potatoes have mounds around the growing plants and the hilled up earth from their trenches has leveled out.  The bush beans I planted there last week 06-05-10_garden_herb-spiral-670have begun to germinate and I plan to plant more bush beans tomorrow if the weather is ok.

    While checking fruit on our trees, I ended up weeding the blueberries, too.  The clover is exuberant, mostly a happy addition to our orchard, but overwhelming in the blueberry patch.  We do have apples and cherries and currants, but I could find no pears.  Our production will at least double this year, maybe more.  I counted six apples and several, say 8, cherries.  The currants have experienced substantial predation, by birds, I think.

    I mounded earth around the growing leeks, too, to blanch the stems.   The garlic, which grows near the leeks, looked ready to harvest, but when I pulled a few out of the ground, they looked like they had a ways to go.  I hung the five I dug from a bamboo pole in the honey house.

    Kate’s begun weeding and that helps a lot.  Keeping the bees, the vegetables, the orchard and the flowers in good shape requires attending to the plants we have, doing things like mounding the potatoes and the leeks, checking the garlic, watching for disease and insects, taking action if a plant seems to be in distress, replanting if, as in the instance of the carrots, germination is low.  Though weeding is an important, very important maintenance action, it doesn’t involve direct plant care which is what I enjoy.  I’m glad to have Kate back at the weeding.  She’s also our pruner and she has begun to recover our front sidewalk.

    Then it rained.

  • Planting Done As Planting Moon Wanes

    Beltane                                              Waning Planting Moon

    Almost all of the seeds and transplants have gone in the ground with the exception of succession plantings of beets, lettuce and carrots.  I have butternut squash to plant and that will go in today.  After this point, the key lies in mulch, weed control, water, plant management (pinching, pruning), continuation of integrated pest management and regular attention.

    This means I have time now for the flowers, the poor flowers which have suffered from my inattention, crowded out by grass, not dead-headed and generally neglected.  Starting yesterday I’m working on that.

    A little time this morning in the tiered perennial garden just to my right outside the patio doors, then into Wheelock for chapter 17.  I realized yesterday that I’m four months or so into re-learning Latin and have already begun the task for which I took this up in the first place, the translation of Metamorphosis.  It’s nice to be able to learn and work on the translation at the same time.  It’s motivating.

    I’ve said here that my goal is translation of the Metamorphosis, but that’s only the vehicle for my true purpose.  Ovid’s many recountings of transformations occasioned by the Gods and by exigent circumstances in human lives has served for centuries as the chief repository of Greek myth.  What I want most of all is to integrate Ovid’s sensibility about transformation, mutation, metamorphosis into my own thought and apply the lesson in my own writing.

    Before that I have to work on transforming my weedy flower beds back into their former beauty.  Bye for now.

  • Heirlooms. Better Eating, Better Seeds

    Beltane                                    Waxing Planting Moon

    Got some plants in the mail.  I didn’t start anything from seed this last winter after starting way too many the season before.  Maybe this winter I’ll hit a happy medium.  These are heirloom plants, so I can save the seeds and plant them next year.  Would somebody remind me to do that when fall comes around?

    The flower garden has gotten the short end of the stick this spring and it shows.  Weeds and grass in places where there should be neither.  While Kate’s away, I plan to get some work done on the flowers since the vegetable garden will be planted, irrigation problems are largely resolved and I signed out of the Museum for the two Fridays she’s gone.

    We do have a lot of things growing.  The leeks have jumped up as have the sugar snap peas, beets, onions, fennel, mustard greens, garlic, parsnip, strawberries, apples, pears, cherries, currants, quince and blueberries.  The radicchio, thyme, dill, rosemary,  flat parsley and lavender are also off to a good start.  The potatoes are, as they say, in the trenches and we await their emergence.  The whole fruit group is still relatively new to us since the orchard is in its third growing season, but only beginning to actually bear fruit.  A lot of critters have evolved that love fruit:  insects, fungi, birds.  Just how much predation we can expect is still unknown.

    I got an e-mail back from Gary Reuter at the U about the comb I photographed.  “The bees,” he said, “are making extra comb.  Take it off.”

    The red car went in for its 260,000 mile check up today.  It’s in fine shapes with the exception of a little bit baling wire and bubble gum necessary for the next 100,000 miles.   Toyota dealerships are not intrinsically happy places right now, but they’ve always done well by us and I appreciate them.

  • Clarifying. Stimulating. Oh, All Right–Damn Cold.

    Winter                             Waning Moon of Long Nights

    As Bilbo said, I have been there and back again.  Up here in the land of the midnight hobbit it remains cold, -7 now at noon.  On days when the high is below zero you know for sure you live in a cold part of the world.

    I can look out the window of this room though and see beds where daffodils and tulips, iris and dicentra, liguria and lilies lie, apparently dead, but actually taking  a long winter’s sabbatical from photosynthesis.  Their presence, more than anything else, convinces me that the blooms of yesteryear are not figments of a hypothermic crisis, but rather the wonder they are.

    The deep cold does not stop life here.  There were many folks at at the grocery store, a normal crowd for a Saturday.  An active snow storm, a severe one, can cause folks to stock up and sit tight, but the cold is part of the territory.  You deal with it, much as I assume the Bedouin do the heat.

  • Cool House Plants

    69  bar rises 29.73  0mph NNW dew-point 57  A summer night

                       Last Quarter of the Flower Moon

    This time period, after the iris bloom and the lilacs have died back, we have annuals like petunias, begonias, geraniums and vinca plus the odd Siberian Iris and peony, not many late June perennials in our garden. We await now the Asiatic lilies.  My favorite among our flowers many of the lilies in our garden came from lily fanciers who live in the upper midwest.   Purchased at a lily growers special season sale at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, they come in beautiful colors and many, like the Star Gazer, have scents that beguile.  A bit later the hemerocallis, day lilies, will begin to bloom. They will take us into September along with the Liguria, the bug bane and the bush Clematis.

    It is a clear night.  Stars light the sky, ancient messengers of events and objects of long past. They are deep history, a counterpoint to the now.  Insects chirp.  The occasional owl hoots.  Maybe the sound of some small animal scurrying through the grass in search of food.  A bats quick, furtive flight crosses the moon’s half lit face.

    These nights offer a softness and elegance found only in the natural world.  There is no need for fancy dress, cocktails or dance music.  All you have to do is walk outside and share the company.  Your clothing or lack of it will not matter. Some of the party may find you irrestible, of course.  Yes, unwanted attention sometimes mars a quiet night.  It does show, though, that you have a niche. You are the canape.

    Kate and I spoke to Mary on Skype today.   Arranging a physical connection with Singapore has its modest challenges.  She called us, for example, at 11:00 PM today, though it was 10:00 AM here.  Today has long since turned into tomorrow there.  She’s off this week finishing the revisions to her dissertation.  Then it heads out to her supervisor for one last check, then onto external readers.  More revisions likely.  Finally, the oral defense sometime from now.  Later, awarding of the doctorate.  Pretty cool.

    She may visit the temperate latitudes building at the Botanical Gardens as a treat for finishing.  That’s where they have trees and plants adapted to cold weather, a mirror to our conservatories with their palms and philodendrons and other tropical vegetation.  A strange notion from the perspective of Minnesota.

  • A Sisyphean Task

    68  bar steady 29.78 0mpn SSW dewpoint 22  Beltane

                            New Moon (Hare Moon)

    The day has passed as we both tried to get our arms around this notion of Gabe as hemophiliac.  As a dedicated user of the internet, I have looked up and printed out several different articles, brochures, information handouts.  Canada Health Services had some good stuff; so did the CDC; and, the World Hemophiliac Federation.  The amount of data, good data, available quickly astounds me every time I reach out for it.  I have not had a disappointing search, ever.

    The emotional problem is this:  lifelong.  This tiny guy, still in the hospital from birth at 35 weeks, now has a mountain to climb every day, every hour for the rest of his life.  This is a Sisyphean task because every time he rolls the ball up the mountain, it will come right back down.  There is no cure.  There is only amelioration.  After looking at the various treatments, I became even more convinced Gabe has the right Dad.  It will require fortitude to climb this mountain,  go to sleep, get up and climb it again.

    So, life will proceed.  We will all come to some terms with this and develop ways we can support Jon and Jen, Ruth and Gabe.  We all need to learn a lot more right now.

    Daffodils have begun to pop open everywhere, so yellow and white is a dominant accent to green here now.  Tulips should come into bloom any day now and the magnolia is out in all its snowy fineness.  Working in the garden, even for a bit, literally grounds me, draws anxiety out and replaces it with the strength of life’s eternal cycle.

  • Morning Glories in the Lead with Cucumber Right Behind

    52  bar rises 30.13 0mph S dewpoint 39  Spring

                 Waning Gibbous Moon of Growing

    The moon of growing has fulfilled its role.  Daylilies have popped up everywhere.  A few magnolia buds have popped open.  I found a couple of daffodil’s with flowers still furled around the stalk, but visible now, where they were still hidden a day ago.  No tulip flowers visible yet but the plants themselves are in full leaf.  A few aconites bloom in the front, hidden by the asters of last fall.  I have to cut them down so we can see the blooms.  Leaves to rake.  Last year’s perennials to cut down.  The growing season outside is slowly getting underway.

    Kate’s getting ready for her Gabe trip.  She’ll probably head straight to the hospital to see the little guy.  I’ll feel better when she’s there.  She’s got a lot of experience with infants.  A lot.

    I’ll take her to the airport, then return here and probably work in the garden for a bit.

    The morning glories have begun to rocket up.  I only planted them four days ago and they’re already an inch and a half above the plug.  The cucumbers race right along behind them with, for now, the cylindria beets.  I can see evidence of seedling’s emerging from most of the other plugs, too.  The vegetable garden has begun to grow, right here in our house.  Meanwhile, the lettuce and tomato up top with the halide bulb and the hydroponics continue upwards as well.