Friday, June 24, 2016

"I Love This Place!"

I had the nicest interaction this morning! I walked the greenbelt to Portland's East End beach. As I was standing at the fence overlooking the water, a young Ethiopian man stopped beside me. 
"Is this the ocean?" he asked.
"Yes," I said, "that's the Atlantic Ocean."
"Is it cold?"
"Yeah, it's pretty cold. "
"Too cold to swim?"
"Probably right now."
"But you can swim? It is safe? If I swim, I won't get sick?" 
"It's clean. People swim in it all the time."
He broke out in a huge grin: "I love this place!"

So do I, friend. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

This Is Why We Live In Maine

I want to hold this moment in my mind, so I can call it up next January when the sun is setting at 4 pm, the snow is falling AGAIN, and the temp never gets about 20 degrees. This is what makes that worth the wait. Sitting on the deck, with my feet up, drinking my (iced!) coffee, watching the garden grow...

...aaaand, here comes my neighbor with his weed whacker. I swear that man has more noise-making devices than anyone else alive. Weed whacker, lawn mower, leaf blower, snow thrower. A motorized whine for every season! Ah, well. It's meant to be 90 degrees today. He'll have to sit down eventually, right?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Then Leaf Subsides to Leaf

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay
. -

Robert Frost

I've been meaning to take photos for this post for over a week, and I almost missed the window: the brief hour of gold. 

I took a walk today on Macworth Island, just north of Portland. A causeway leads to the island, which houses the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf. It's an easy hike, about 2.2 miles, with lovely views. It's good to go early in the season - Macworth has a very small parking lot, and when that lot is full, no more visitors are allowed. Even today, only one spot was open when I arrived, although there were more by the time I left. 

Must Eden always sink to grief? Maybe. But Macworth abides. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Late Winter Ritual: The Fedco Order

Though we've had an amazingly warm and hopefully brief winter, I am a bit late with my Fedco tomato seed order this year; or perhaps I am late with it because of our unseasonsable season. It's usually a late January event, that reminds me in the deepest part of winter that warmth will come again, and things will grow.

My husband and I have tried many different hybrid and heirloom tomatoes over the years in our raised beds. Due to our relatively short growing season, some varieties - easpecially those which make very large tomatoes - just don't work out. Regular tomatoes - as opposed to cherry or grape - can have a germination-to-havest time of about 60 - 90 days. I aim for the low end of that range, but I do try to spread the harvest out, so I don't have pounds and pounds of tomatoes all in a two-week window. This year I am going with three tried-and-true varieties, and test-driving one that looked too appealing to resist. Making return appearances this year are:

  • Sungolds! Bright yellow-orange cherry tomatoes, on the small side; impossibly sweet, early, prolific: even people who don't like tomatoes like Sungolds. They'll make fruit from the first week in August right up until the frost. Fruit 57 days from germination.
  • Oregon Spring. Has one of the briefest growing periods of any full-sized tomato, at 57 days. Good-sized fruit, smooth, and sort of classically tomato-looking. These are nice and flavorful but nothing special; I mostly choose them because if we get a crap summer, as sometimes happens, they will fruit anyway. A pretty good workhorse tomato, they are good sliced or in salsa or sauce. They are my hedge bet. 
  • Garden Peach - These are on the small side, pale yellow and slightly fuzzy. Sweet and very juicy. Great to eat sliced or in salsa. They struggle during cold or rainy summers, but produce prolifically if the weather cooperates. 

Oregon Spring
Garden Peach
And my gamble this year :
  • Jubilee - an 80-day tomato, orange with 8 oz fruit. If you can't tell, I favor the yellow & orange varieties! I like to have some red, orange, and yellow in my salsa, so pretty with the dark green bits of jalepeno. 80 days...if I plant on Memorial Day, 80 days is...mid-August? Sounds doable, even if it runs late, because September is often our biggest tomato month. 
We alwasy use Fedco, because they are right up the road in Waterville, so they know what will do well in a Maine garden. Time to start saving egg cartons to plant in! And eggshells, which provide calcium for tomato-growing soil.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ice Dam, Downtown Augusta

The Kennebec River has overspilled its banks into a downtown Augusta parking lot. The rapid temperature change, combined with teo days of precipitation has caused ice dams n the river, backing water up over the banks.

Over the weekend we had temperatures in the double digits below; then a few inches of snow on Monday, then heavy rain and weirdly warm temperatures yesterday. The river narrow right at downtown, so when the ice breaks up, it sometimes gets clogged up at the bottleneck. This isn't the first time that lot has flooded.
Here's downtown today from the opposite bank.

Back home, though, things look considerably springier! Since we've had such a warm season overall, I thought I'd check to see if we've got any crocus shoots up yet; and YES! we do! This is the earliest the crocuses have come up since I started paying attention back in 2005.