Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fall light and temperatures

It's delightful to be home now, to the wonderful shift of fall light, as the sun dips to the south, bringing light in our front windows in late afternoon.

In summer, the sun moves directly over the house; in fall and winter, the sun's light is angled, so we have light throughout the day in the kitchen and main room and in the front of the house.

And this week, temperatures are actually going to be fall-like, and perhaps help me adjust to what time of the year this really is --  having traveling to Kauai and Vancouver in late September and early October has just added to my internal seasonal confusion, preceded by a cool August and September in Western North Carolina.

Of course, in the hurry to get dinner cooked, after a wonderful loop walking through downtown, I don't have a photo, and can't find one from previous posts (what could I have labelled a fall sunset view out the front window?)

Here's a beautiful winter sunset in the mountains instead.  Something to look forward to.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Writing is art

I've returned to thinking about writing as my primary creative activity. Perhaps I'll get back to watercolor. Maybe.  I'll be probably sticking with gardening and writing.

I have a natural dye-printing class on Thursday, inspired by a wonderful scarf that I acquired at one of our tailgate markets --the creator of the one I bought will be the instructor.

But I keep coming back to writing as a primary medium (as I tap this on my iPad keyboard) in a curious way of thinking.

Gardening has been a significant expression of creativity over the years - that's been a interesting evolution in its own right, but perhaps more narrative writing is yet to come.

This small snippet from the (much longer) Emily Carr University's Writing Manifesto (in Vancouver) says it right.

Friday, October 6, 2017

A lovely community garden

On our last day in Vancouver, we ventured into the 4th St. corridor, towards UBC and the Anthropology Museum.

Bumbling off 4th St., I came upon a delightful community garden, largely flowers, built along an old railway line, now turning into greenway.

It's so refreshing in a massive urban environment, to come upon gardened spaces, even in a city like Vancouver that has incredible seawall walkways/bikeways along most every inch of their shoreline.

A wonderful urban park

Stanley Park, at the edge of central Vancouver, is a venerable space, designated in the late 1800's on space that was home to First Nations people. (There were still people living in the park through the 1950's, I think I'm remembering right, but the park lands now include second-growth temperate rain forest, gardens, and a spectacular perimeter seawall around the entire peninsula).

We walked around the seawall a couple of days ago, but returned to visit some of the interior trails. A destination amid the wonderful forest was Beaver Lake.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

View from Cambie Bridge

Even though the full moon isn't until Saturday, it's luminous right now in the Vancouver sky.

Views from the Cambie Bridge this evening were spectacular.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A sponsored median strip garden

Around our "borrowed" neighborhood in Vancouver, there are a number of sponsored median strips and traffic island plantings. I've already posted about a couple of sidewalk plantings, but these, as part of a community program, are worth showing, too.

This one, in early fall exuberance (and senscence) was charming, at least to me.
There were others available, presumably due to someone moving. This one had been well-tended.
I totally love this concept -- it transforms our towns and cities as we help create gardens where there was only a scruffy patch of lawn before!

Community gardens and neighborhoods

An excursion down to Richmond, BC, for a (inaguaral) harvest festival, found lots of interesting non-profit booths, promoting agricultural preservation in what was a traditional agricultural area, now being overrun by high-rise condo developments.

The city has set aside 136 acres as part of a Garden City Parklands development, so the festival was marking the development of this area for farm/community garden space as well as wetland restoration.

A lovely community-building event.
There were excellent initiatives around developing and replacing urban forest and "rewilding" areas represented, although it was interesting that most of Richmond was originally bog and shrubland, with a margin of Western red cedar and alder forest.

I especially appreciated the local food/seed saving intiatives.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Streetside plantings

Many communities have spaces between the sidewalk and road. Sometime we describe them as hell-strips, sometimes just as sidewalk median plantings.

Some places have wide planting areas, others narrow ones -- all are lucky to have sidewalks to start with!

In the Vancouver neighborhood where we're currently staying (through HomeExchange), most of these strips are mowed grass, with the houses surrounded by rather formidable and lush hedges as a privacy screen.

These two, just down the road from our temporary house, stood out.

The first was rather extraordinary. Pruned, topiary-ish evergreens, both in the median and next to their fence.
The other was more to my liking: a mixed grass and wildflower border between the sidewalk and the street. Their neighbor, an absent investor, had nothing but river rock below and grasses above, in contrast. At least, they'd added a landscape of some sort.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Proactive big city initiatives

Those of us who live in small cities, suburbs, or elsewhere, are fortunate, I suppose, not to be worrying about what happens to food waste, etc. I already compost everything that we produce from our garden and kitchen as far as "food scraps" go, and we recycle (through curbside) mixed paper, plastic, and glass, so it's been easy for us.

In Vancouver, where we're currently staying in a lovely town home (thanks to Home Exchange), they have yard waste/food waste bins, recycling bins, and garbage pickup. All good, although I think folks are paying quite a bit for their pickup, just like we do at home.

But I was so glad to see at Granville Island (the location of a lovely and historic public market), the goal of a zero waste island. So instead of tipping our lunch boxes into the trash, they went in the compost.

How lovely is that?

I love the message, even if it's not entirely successful!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Vegetable gardening thoughts

I've been away from my vegetable garden for almost two weeks, but had access to veggies with our Home Exchange partners and their neighbors' garden. The red kale was remarkably good -- apparently it's an almost perennial veggie for them in Kauai; I was surprised at how delicious it was, even with temperatures in the low to mid 80's in September. There were lots of tomatillos to enjoy, along with peppers, and herbs.

At home in Western NC, kale gets decidedly tough through summer, and more bitter with heat; chard does well if it has enough moisture, and is still quite decent.

I sowed spinach, mesclun, mustard, and kale in my beds at home before I left; perhaps I'll return to flourishing cut-and-come-again plantings, or maybe not. Ditto for the kale, lettuce, and broccoli starts! They may have just been woodchuck food. We'll see.

We've just arrived in Vancouver for a couple of weeks, again in a lovely Home Exchange house, but one that's surrounded by a small garden space, with just a few herbs in pots.

It's so interesting to be in our Home Exchange partners house -- while they're in ours. Such different experiences, I think, on a day to day basis.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Kauai sunset

A final sunset from our Home Exchange cottage -- we'll be leaving tomorrow evening. Kauai is a magical place, with beautiful mountains and beaches.

Little native vegetation is left, except for very remote areas in Waimea, but that's the case throughout Hawaii. The National Tropical Botanical Garden is doing a great job rescuing endangered plant species, restoring their gardens on Kauai with native plants, and promoting planting natives in landscapes. A good thing.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Na Pali Coast boat ride

A ridicuously expensive 4-hr boat trip turned out to be well worth it, at least at Kauai prices.

Wonderful views of what is truly a spectacular coastline.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

On the trail towards Alakai Swamp, Kauai

I didn't take my iPhone on this hike, as it looked like rain was threatening, but all was well until our return ascent.
This is the only photo that I seem to be able to get my iPad to download, from the ones my gardening companion took.
A wonderful hike.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Waimea Canyon

A truly spectacular spot on Kauai, Waimea Canyon was breathtaking.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

More Kauai views

We're so fortunate that our small house in Asheville is walkable to downtown, looks into a restored forest (thanks to my gardening companion), and is surrounded by other gardens, vegetable and pollinator-friendly, native-rich, etc. It's a good place to be.

It makes for a good home exchange. Our home exchange partners here in Kauai will be in our house next April. We're enjoying their wonderful setting now.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Kauai views

From Eastern hardwood forest views to Kauai slopes.
The first two are from our home exchange cottage; the third is looking towards the Na Pali coast.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Coming into Kauai


This afternoon's view was impressive, as we approached Kauai, where we'll be for awhile on a Home Exchange. My gardening companion was here 40+ years ago and remembers it fondly; I've never been to Hawaii.

Hiking, botanizing, snorkeling, and poking around in our Home Exchange partners' garden -- it'll be a wonderful time. It's warm and humid, but hey, we're from the Southeastern US, after all. It's not unfamiliar, even though our summer has been cool this year.

A brief stopover to visit relatives in LA reminded me of why I wouldn't want to live in Southern CA. They live in a wonderful house surrounded by gardens, but, the traffic to and from the airport, even at 6 am this morning was remarkable (not in a good way!)

Now, I'm off to see what the garden might have, while we wait for AAA to charge the battery on the car! There are lots of robust looking tomato plants, recently planted, I think, along with lots of papaya and mango trees.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Gardening is about hope

Isn't gardening really about hope?  Hope for what we've planted, whether it's short-term or long.

I've sowed seeds of greens just before leaving for several weeks and created all the change-outs with kale and collards; my gardening companion has planted new native trees and perennials.  It IS about hope.

Our home exchange folks aren't going to be watering. The daughter of our very nice neighbor will be keeping an eye on whether it needs to be watered, but.., the footsteps of the resident gardeners will be absent for awhile.

All will be well, I think, as Irma will bring plenty of rain over the next week to our garden.  And, September is sometimes a cool month (and has certainly started out like that). Hmm, I wore my fleece jacket on our evening walk -- strange for Sept. 10.

We had a wonderful red sunset looping around the Grove Park Inn this evening. But I didn't have my phone (or camera).

So here's another wonderful one, from Beaver Lake, another favorite walk.

Beaver Lake sunset

Monday, September 4, 2017

A vegetable garden change-out

It's a bit early to dispatch most of the final tomatoes and beans, but with home exchange folks coming, and departure within the week, it's time.  When your vegetable garden is largely in the front of the house, attractiveness standards are high.

So, out came the front beans and the last of the cherry tomatoes, in came transplants of collards, kale, and broccoli, and I've seeded spinach, arugula, beets, mache, creasy greens, and a bit of lettuce (I need more lettuce seeds!)  Now I'll just hope for rain while we're gone, or perhaps the daughter of our neighbor will want to water again.

I've protected most of the cole crops with wire cloches -- they help deter (a bit) the cabbage white butterflies laying eggs (and the following caterpillars) and the errant woodchuck nibbling. Ha!

Sept. 4, 2017
Gardening is always an act of hope and belief in possibilities. It's always a new season.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Evening at Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake in North Asheville is always a source of wonderful views, at whatever time of day. In the evening, the light was lovely today.

And the almost full moon, rising above the lake, was a bonus.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

A walk at Biltmore Estate


There's a lot to like about Biltmore Estate, even it's a for-profit, family-owned enterprise. Yes, it's ca-ching, ca-ching - but they're doing stewardship well.

As passholders, we enjoy the landscape along the French Broad River, the gardens around the house, and even the Wine Club -- Woody is welcome, so after a nice walk, perfect.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Coming home to a nocturnal symphony

I've appreciated many times (via blog posts) in the past how our SE US forests and other natural landscapes support crickets, cicadas, tree frogs, etc. that make our nocturnal symphonies so compelling.

It's in full swing tonight in the forest below our urban house this evening. Whether it's the native trees that were in the canopy, or the native understory trees and herbaceous plants that we've added, or both, I don't know.  The insects and tree frogs are happy.

It's lovely to hear tonight. We didn't hear night insects or frogs in Quebec over the last week, while traveling.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A farewell bonfire

We're heading home tomorrow , so this is a farewell bonfire. Lovely to be with my Dad and his wife this evening.l

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Gaspesie National Park (Mont Albert loop)

Ten years ago, we'd had a great hike on this loop, reprised again, albeit with a late start. It's a wonderful (and long - almost 11 mile) hike, through coniferous forests, alpine tundra, serpentine endemics, boggy habitats, and riverside areas, with wonderful views at the top.


It was a lovely way to mark our 33th wedding anniversary, even though a bit strenous!
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