Thursday, January 26, 2017

Travel as pilgrimage

Traveling with a spirit of curiosity and interest in the people and places visited has always seemed to me to be the point. We haven't traveled to all of the places that we've been to for "vacation," although even the harder traveling destinations have been enjoyable, as well as illuminating, and the "hard" parts fade as the trip memories crystallize.

Traveling as pilgrimage is another way I approach different destinations, whether there's a personal connection or not.

But always I return with an invigorated sense of my place and purpose in the world. In Cuba, we'll be visiting natural area, gardens, organic farms, and centuries-old cities on this trip, as well as staying with people in their homes in most cases (in casa particulares.) No hotels on this trip. Probably most photos will wait as internet access is quite limited.

We've visited other communist countries before (Laos and Vietnam) in transitional times, and will be mindful of the impact that we, as travelers, have, especially in economic conditions where disparity of income is so high.

I'm interested, when traveling,  in what families are growing for themselves, the kinds of fresh foods that are available, the ecological conditions in the biological reserves and parks, abundance (or not) of recessed foods, and simply food security, too.

So travel is not a vacation for me, but more is a way to learn more and appreciate the diverse ways people live on our planet. I always return changed, I hope, for the better, with a renewed sense of purpose, wherever that takes me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Winter greens

Even though my spinach continues to be fabulous, I can't possibly do another post about spinach.

But, the unseasonably warm winter weather has seen nice growth in collards and kale, which are looking great. Chard and beet greens, although a bit affected, still look good and are delicious.

A harvest tonight of mixed greens was tasty!

collard plant in late January --looking good
Amazingly, even with short dips into the teens, kale, collards, leeks, etc. are doing fine.  The key was the dips have been short, I think - no prolonged extreme temperatures.
Rosemary with collards and kale
Rosemary and lavendars are still OK, although my thyme (on the left) looks wan.

red cabbage, kale, parsley, and chard
 I'm going to cover the spinach with remay while we're away, but I think everything else will be just fine.  It's lovely to have a winter vegetable garden for a change.

The last two winters had prolonged cold spells that took everything out -- and I didn't have the remay covers, either.

Signs of spring are starting, too. The Ozark witch hazel in front is in full flower -- lovely -- and post-pruning is a nice small size. Crocuses have popped up in the Mormon church house lawn, and dandelions have already gone to flower.  And the winter annuals are well-along in their growth, too!

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Monday, January 23, 2017


I'm mindful this evening of traveling, as we're heading off to Cuba, for an independent educational excursion later this week. Home and pet secured, check. Traveling details, check.

It'll be a contrast to the celebration of democracy that I experienced with my friend Meg at the Women's March in Washington last weekend, I'm sure.  I posted on FB some of my thoughts and images from that.  A remarkable experience.  My letters to my Senators will be sent tomorrow.

And a contrast, too, to our conversation with a lovely young women many years ago, on our first trip to South America, who declared herself a citizen of the world.

We're in such a challenging time in our country (the US), and I was going to write interesting, too; that's the hopeful part.

We'll be traveling quite a bit in the coming year.

It's the right time for us in our early-mid 60's.  Is it escape?  Or continuing to connect as Americans of good will and friendship?  I, for one, will continue to be active speaking out, standing up, and keeping our Congress folks aware that I'm out here. I vote, I have a voice, and we ALL matter.

Here's a favorite image of the Hoi An Full Moon festival, a memory that I cherish.

a luminary ready to float down the river

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Remembering our ginkgo in fall!

I was trying to repost my Bass Pond photo, but Google and Apple don't play well together.

So here's another memorable image-- our ginkgo in fall, last year.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

City lights

Our ravine forest view is increasingly one of sparkling night views.

A new hotel, more street lights, and distant lights combine to create it.

The day view is urban nature, partially restored to natural forest (my gardening companion spent hours yesterday and today moving around native plants (shrubs and trees) to places he'd thought they'd do better.

A woodland forest in the old "coal" road is taking shape, with sassafras, tulip poplar, striped maple, spice bush, and more.  He's moved around many other natives, too, trying to get them in the optimal spots. He's created lovely native vignettes - he wouldn't call himself a gardener,  even yet, but he's a great one.

We're thinking about taking out the Ozark witch hazel to give us a more balanced view to the created natural landscape beyond.   It's probably a good thing and will give me more space for the pocket meadow.

There are already signs of spring to come (dandelions, winter jasmine in flower, etc.) -- way early, but welcome.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Spinach harvest

I'm just tickled at how well the spinach has done through temperatures in the teens.  Admittedly, they were covered with remay (and then a thick layer of snow).

What fun to uncover the beds and harvest fresh spinach!  I knew spinach was hardy, but haven't had the covers available before.

fresh spinach in mid-January

P.S.  I was also tickled at being selected as one of the Top 10 Gardening Bloggers on Toolversed.  A nice compliment and fun that the editor found my blog out of so many great ones out there.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kale and collards are tough

I haven't looked at the greens under remay, yet, in my raised beds, even though the snow has now almost disappeared (as of today).

But what has impressed me so far is how robust the kale, collards, and cabbage look after the thaw -- this after temperatures in the teens.

Just a quick "distance" look at the Southside Community Garden (prior to going to a meeting), too, revealed perpetual spinach looking great.  And a fellow volunteer reported harvested great spinach underneath the remay.

If we can corral the woodchuck(s) over there, we'll be in business for early winter spinach harvests!

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snow thoughts and other conundrums

Among other things, I teach classes about 3 (and 4) season vegetable gardening, now as a volunteer, but have done so for a least a decade prior to this.

The last three years, my raised bed gardens in Western NC have been blasted by REALLY cold temperatures, thanks to the polar vortex, which took most winter hardy veggies out. So I was able to start fresh in late winter/spring -- not a bad thing.

Hmm, this year, I've got spinach and kale tucked under Remay, but temperatures in the teens, again?  Covered with snow.  I'm not hopeful, but we'll see.

Raised bed covered in December
This was my last spinach harvest, before covering the beds up again with Remay.

Quite tasty!

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Winter at Beaver Lake

A favorite walk is around Beaver Lake, in North Asheville.  It's a community-owned lake, open to walkers and dogs (by permit) -- Woody's up to date!

This morning, the clouds were clearing, and the view were lovely.

Beaver Lake, Jan. 3, 2017
My friend and I enjoyed our walk around the lake.

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