Sunday, November 29, 2015

Golden sugar maples

The sugar maples down in the ravine forest below the house keep on bringing fall color in golden yellows. Sheltered from frost, they've been late to turn color (and definitely late to lose their leaves).

Sugar maples, in late afternoon light

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Late fall color and dog treats

A last blast of fall color with Japanese maples and native maples has been lovely. 
Across the street
 An odd confluence of minimal fall frosts & freezes, combined with warm weather has extended leaf season for natives and non-natives alike. 

I'd never had thought I'd have the door open to cool off the house on November 28, as I'm simmering turkey broth from an "echo" turkey this evening, post-Thanksgiving spent with relatives. (My gardening companion likes "left-over" turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, etc. and this is his birthday week, so....)

 A favorite walk of mine is to loop up and around the historic Grove Park Inn. 

The downward side of the loop comes along Kimberly Avenue.  A dog-lover (I'm imagining in memory of one) has kindly put this up, as a stop along the way, for those of us who have furry friends along on our walks.
Dog treats

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Writing, connecting, and other thoughts

Spending a day in talks related to writing (at the NC Writers Network Fall Conference) has been interesting.

Considering myself a writer (narrative non-fiction? creative non-fiction?) has been a bit of a leap, but with a lot of professional writing and over 1650 posts on this blog, I suppose I qualify.

There are so many different "genres" of writing represented in participants, from fiction, to creative non-fiction, to memoir, to non-fiction, and poetry.

And it seems like most of us write simply for the experience, pleasure, and joy of expressive writing.

Some of the participants make a living from writing, but my sense is that most of us there simply love to write, in whatever format.

In writing about nature, I enjoy feeling grounded in the natural world, in everyday reflections about gardening and what I've observed.

Writing blog posts focused on something that I did, observed, or experienced -- that's been magic to me over the 8-plus years that I've been writing posts.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A first freeze

We finally had our first "real" freeze of fall last weekend. 

I was distracted by watercolor classes, an art walk through the River Arts District, and planning various upcoming activities, travel, etc. so hadn't done too much aside from running out and harvesting the last tender bok choi leaves, from plants which turned out not to be so tender after all.

Thankfully, I'd already harvested all the peppers, so just needed to clean up the droopy carcasses this week.  The greens, herbs, sugar snap peas, parsley, etc. all look just fine, of course.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Trees and mountains

I was in a watercolor class today, with a favorite teacher, Elizabeth Ellison, in a class that's about really about learning watercolor techniques and "tools to use." 

I was so delighted to somehow produce a couple of pleasing studies, one of mountains, channeling (again) the Rockies of my childhood, not the smooth mountains of the Southern Appalachians where I live now, and feel at home, and the other, following Elizabeth's mention of a beech, turned into a remembrance of a sycamore.


tree study

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Ugly vegetables...

My generous and good friend gave me a box of sweet potatoes last week.  They didn't look like sanitized supermarket sweet potatoes, to be sure.  And they supposedly needed more curing to store well.

Some of them were VERY large, and warty-looking.  Some had been nibbled on, she thought, by field mice.  And there were oddities on their skins, too, perhaps caused by "wireworms."
The glass bowl is a full quart, just to provide some perspective. The half sweet potato is 5" wide X 4" high.
I've never grown sweet potatoes successfully myself (woodchucks ate the shoots as quickly as I could plant them), but I was interested, too, of course.

A participant in a class later in the week, spotting the box in the back of my car (curing in the warm weather), asked "Are they still edible?" 

I said, yes, of course, they're just not cleaned up like our supermarket sweet potatoes (and clearly all of the large and unusually shaped ones must go somewhere else than our human food stream, as I've never seen any that looked quite like these before).

However, I've now roasted, peeled, and eaten some -- they're delicious.

It reminds me of how important gleaning work is, and the importance, too, of recognizing what's good food, even when not "beautiful."

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Another magical view

The historic Grove Park Inn is a wonderful place for sunsets, and at least so far, they're happy to be open to the public for gazing, walk-throughs on early morning walks, and views, in general.

And they're delightfully tolerant of Woody, although he's clearly over the 25 lb. limit for dogs at the hotel, nor is he staying there.

view from the President's lounge- Grove Park Inn
Guests and employees alike enjoy him as as we cruise through the lobby towards the Sunset Terrace, or around to have a glass of wine and a beer in the enclosed space towards the east.  Magical.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Evening light

Fall color and evening light have stretched out magically; the unexpected warm weather has extended fall color...and the clouds this week -- both in the morning and the evening, have been wonderful.

All of this has made pre-dinner walks (even after daylight savings time and early darkness) quite lovely.

This evening's loop around Beaver Lake in North Asheville (a favorite walking place) -- special, indeed.

Walking at Beaver Lake

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

The magic of ginkgos

We've had ginkgos at the three houses that we've lived in over the years we've been homeowners.

The first came with the house.  It was magical.  It was a lovely shape, probably induced by early pruning, and released all of its leaves in a carpet of yellow.

I have a lovely snapshot from long ago of my gardening companion, Tim, with our first Golden, Chessie, playing with the fallen leaves -- I don't think that I've digitized it, but it's vividly in memory.

Ginkgo in front of house
We planted at least 5 ginkgos in our Piedmont garden, grown from seeds collected from female trees on campus.  They had gotten very large and were spectacular by the time we left that garden last spring, but hadn't revealed their sex!

Here in the mountains, we planted a known male, with excellent color, from a favorite local nursery in the Piedmont. It replaced an unremarkable red maple in front of the house.

It's lovely right now.

Fall gingko
We had a pair of luminous ginkgos at the South Carolina Botanical Garden, my workplace for over 2 decades.

This was one of them.

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