Snowshoes and Chickens

IMG_3756

Finished one I started a while back, inspired by a trip to Donner Lake near Tahoe. The area has a gruesome history, but it sure is beautiful. And scary, too–my daughter did not want to go on the trails behind the cabin we stayed at. Just a little too close to complete remoteness for her, I think.

I just finished reading an essay in Wendell Berry’s collection Home Economics about this very subject: it’s natural to feel wary and apprehensive about pristine nature, even while being in rapturous awe of it at the same time.

He believes we feel most comfortable living with nature, not in it, and I have to agree. He mentions the ecological phenomenon of  “edge effect.” I live on those special margins that seem to bring out and nourish the health of the wildlife in the area–my garden and little orchard and “developed” land abut a big track of oak forest that covers the side of the canyon we live atop. I’ve seen more birds, animals, insects, etc. than I ever have immersed deep in the woods (fox, moles, squirrels, red-shouldered hawks, turkey vultures, crows, wild pigs, deer, swallowtails, western jays, finches, doves, owls, praying mantises, skinks, fence lizards, garter snakes, to name some).

That being said, Berry also talks about how we “need” wilderness, as much as a physical reality as an idea in our collective mind. I, for one, definitely feel that necessity to know that there are still wild, scary places out there, with creatures that could, in fact, kill us.

feedingchicks1

Also finished another drawing, inspired by my girls feeding the chickens. They love to dig for worms in the compost pile and feed them to the chicks!

And I’ve been featured on the Doodlewash watercolor blog and community…thank you so much!

Seasonal Gardening

img_2444

Mena and I have been putting in the winter garden. I love this time of year, even though the days are shorter and the sunlight arcs lower in the sky and everything grows a bit slower. All living things are entering a dormant period, a much needed time of rest. Still, it’s incredibly beautiful here in California, and I am getting some garden surprises.

img_2438

I knew I would be harvesting a lot of radishes…so that’s not surprising. The “Easter Egg” variety is beautiful! I will be roasting these for dinner the night my mom flies in from Pennsylvania.

img_2454

Collards are still going strong and are so beautiful after light rains. Their leaves hold the water in pools, and the plant looks to be speckled with jewels. The mullein in the background is humongous now! I cannot wait until it grows the long stalk and blooms!

img_2455

Here is the surprise: my pattypan and yellow summer squash are still growing and producing fruit! I can’t believe it 🙂

img_2456

And the lovely Musque de Provence is positively taking over the lower terrace by the beautiful meandering live oaks. Two more pumpkins on the vine, and I’ll be pureeing like crazy come time they turn that nutty orange color. I am very curious as to how they taste; we’ve never grown this variety before!

Ending with a quote, post-election:

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”

― Wendell Berry

A Time for Every Purpose

Nearly finished with the studio. Anthony has only to put the window trim in (the baseboard is actually in, just not in the pic), and it’s finished! I’ve moved most of my supplies in, including the computer and printer. So excited to have a room of my own, in the words of one of my favorite writers 🙂

img_2318

Got a bunch of dirt and some manure to prepare the garden next to the keyhole bed…have to come up with a good name for that one, instead of always referring to it as “the garden next to the keyhole bed.” I love planning a garden…and it’s so satisfying to see it growing in, maturing, becoming what you imagined it to be, and more.

In the veggie garden, summer squash is still chugging along, radishes will soon be harvested, another batch to be seeded now. Mesclun has sprouted, to be picked when young and put into my daily juice!

img_2323

img_2322

img_2324

Rosemary is blooming and lovely, and the bees are in heaven. Going to take some cuttings. I’m planning on planting a hedge just below the last tier of the terrace and above the live oak, one of blackberry and currant and rosemary. I’m going to do a bit of guerrilla gardening and stop on the side of the road next to a local park where I noticed the blackberries growing wild and take a few snips!

img_2310

Looking forward to October and cooler days and nights and keeping busy inside with painting and baking and reading. And going to the parks on off-season when we don’t have to pay for parking! I really do miss truly delineated seasons, especially fall: the sweeping mass of color in all the foliage, the smell of wet leaves and the cold, everything in a golden haze at sunset, when the air is so crisp and clear it makes everything seem hyper-real.

img_2311

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.

–Henry David Thoreau

Keeping Sane

“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

img_2288

My husband Anthony has been away for a week, and the girls and I have been spending the days outside. I am excited for fall and have started sprouting the season’s vegetables: cauliflower, cabbage, pak choi, kale, broccoli raab, lettuce, and onions.

img_2290

Being out in the garden always gives me great drawing/painting ideas. Way too many to keep up with, actually. But a few have stayed in my mind, waiting to be transmuted onto paper…like Grandpa Ott with his morning glories and foxes wearing gloves and other lovely cottage garden scenes.

img_2228

I really hope when my girls are grown that they will garden, too. It is truly an incredible source of happiness. One that also happens to have delicious by-products without all the extra nonsense they usually come with in grocery store form!