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Rhode Island “Spring”

It’s been a busy year as we learn to be Rhode Islanders! Sorry y’all for the delay in posts, but you can see what you missed by checking on Facebook. I’ll copy some of those posts here so you can follow our transmogrification from North Carolinians to Rhode Islanders.

March 14  It’s Pi day, my engineer tells me, so I mixed crust, he opened cans, I added brandy for flavor.

Dirk w pies 3:17 Nice treat after shoveling—4 in of VERY heavy Slush! If this had stayed snow we’d be having more to move… It’s been raining the past 3 hrs., making mush. I was wet through after 40″ out there. Crocuses & snowdrops had somewhat recovered yesterday, now under snow again. Inside the house, under a grow light, vegetables for our future garden are thriving–such a lovely contrast!

Snow back yard 3:17

Seedlings 3:17

Snow again, sticky, perfect for a snow man, & school’s out.
Here are two of five little cape/shawls I’ve made from Dirk’s mother’s left-behind sock yarn left-overs. Some have gone to friends, the rest to church for their prayer shawl program.

Interfaith Vigil at Holocaust Memorial in Providence on March 5. All our Rhode Island elected senators, representatives and Governor Raimondo as well as rabbis, immans & pastors and 300 or more people from our state were there. It was a large crowd, in spite of the temperature about 10 degrees by wind chill, which had already started to thin by the time we made a united circle around the central stone, Rabbi Aaron played and sang some rousing songs, and we placed  our own small stones there to say, “Never again–we remember.” What a strange world this is, for there to be bomb threats at Jewish temples and community center/schools in Rhode Island, where Roger Williams came specifically to form a colony with religious freedom. RW is on top of this tower.

Feb. 23– Our first crocuses are in bloom six weeks later than we saw them in NC. Such a treat to see an actual sign of spring. Dirk is wearing his new argyle sweater from our own wool. This project took about 5 months, including spinning the yarn. Only the orange is commercial. I’ve started cleaning up flower beds, including stems of last year’s flower heads, now completely empty of seed. Just hung up another bird house. I need to find seed for veggies that mature in a short season. So disappointing last year that bell peppers & Cherokee red tomatoes had to be picked green and small the day the killing frost was due. Suggestions?

Maeve and Emily enjoy the daily walks Dirk takes with them. Sometimes I go (when I’m not updating my blog!) or vacuuming up pet fur. He recently met a neighbor around the corner with chickens and more eggs than she needs. He dropped off the empty egg box with some of my Almost Lost dish cloths (thanks, Katie Verna) for which she was thankful and gave him another dozen eggs! Finally I’ve found someone with chickens to whom I can give egg boxes to recycle them.

Dirk's argyle; walking dogs 2:17

Emily is slowing down, and at 12, for a Great Pyrenees, I guess it’s time. She was barking at about 1 a.m. last night, so I let her out. She slipped on the icy deck and did a belly flop, and no foot found anything to grip. She looked at me so mournfully, those sad eyes, so embarrassed… as though I had made this situation happen. I brought out a throw rug and rolled her back and forth to get it under her for traction, and she popped up and took off. She loves to patrol all around the fenced  half-acre back yard at night, just like she did in our sheep pastures in her early years. I know we have a fox–my nature camera took his picture. I’ve seen deer, turkeys, smelled skunk, and my neighbor has muskrats, mink in her wetland back yard garden area–and then the perpetual vermin, coyotes, are everywhere. No one in this neighborhood has seen fisher cats yet, thank goodness. Those cousins to hyenas or badgers are a real threat. My hosta is never eaten by deer, in contrast to my friends’ gardes–I guess the dogs keep them away, which is great!

This is an afghan I made for a friend we left behind in NC, mostly from yarn Dirk’s mother left-behind. She died in Oct., and his father boxed up all her yarn and patterns and sent them along. I used her pattern in his argyle sweater. Both the “dog patch,” and the “sheep patch” are from my homespun yarn.  There’s a pocket in the center of the yellow square the right size for a cell phone or anything else that’s small that might fall out of her recliner or wheel chair. (She was delighted with that feature 🙂 These socks are from commercial superwash wool, cozy in winter, and I’ll wear them for St. Patrick’s Day. And last but not least, this is a picture of our church in Wickford, from the side, the First Baptist Church of Wickford. It’s lovely inside also, the glass still the wavy old 200-year old windows. I wish we could fill it up Sundays… We’ve made lots of friends there.

Narragansett wavesDirk & Judy, trop storm, Pt. Judy

This is one of the special things about living in this area. Narragansett Pier is right here, with the large beach and sea wall. Here you see a snow bank pushed up after one of the storms, and the lovely breakers rolling in toward the breakwater. I can be there in ten minutes, any time I want to watch the water roll in at high tide, which is invigorating! People walk their dogs on the beach all winter, parking is free until May or so. This was one of the big reasons why we moved north, to be this close to the salt water. The lower picture was taken during a tropical storm which turned out to be only lots of wind, at Point Judith Light, where the Narragansett Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. My pulmonary Doc was right–my asthma does like the salt air!


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Summer Solstice in NC

Warm steam envelopes my air-conditioned skin. Humidified air needs no machine to provide air-borne water. Peep-toads whistle over the wetlands to fireflies floating around the tomato plants. Perfumed gardenia surrounds the beauty of blooming double pink and bright purple petunias, white pansies, red snapdragons and sage, pink and white verbena with a pink and green sweet potato vine curling toward the deck over the edge. Lantana matches marigolds, but fragrances compete. Red petunia and dusty miller’s yellow blooms tower over salmon-pink verbena peeking through from behind. Lily stalks are tall and heavy with flagrant pink perfumed blossoms, sunflowers stretch for the sky bobbing under bumblebees. A chastened rose bush is half its May size, trimmed of the spent vines, blooms and hips, loved by sheep. Lush new dark red and green leaves on soft vines watered daily with dishwater, shoot out to catch hair and clothing. Neighbors’ dogs are sleeping. In full dark the whip-or-will begins to sing, its voice echoing around huge pine trunks, making location impossible. A shhhh indicates water trickling on gardens, soaker hoses making tiny sprays of water up under leaves of tomatoes, peppers, acorn squash, kale, butternut squash, chard, beets, string beans, and cucumbers. Gone are the sugar peas and spring onions of the cool spring, and the massed pansies in all my pots, thriving through a mild winter.

White smudge of magnolia bloom peers at me through the near-dark, holding its fragrance for me to get near to wrap myself in the heady perfume, sweet and musty. One bloom fills a large bowl and scents a large room.

The sundial  is completely in shadow, and points to no time passing at all. Time is suspended in this silent peep-toad stillness. Trees have lost their color, moving from green to a shadow outline against a pale blue sky, empty of planes, even the birds are asleep.

Possums and rabbits silently roam the woods. Shining my lantern toward the wetland, I see hundreds of shining eyes peering back at me.

Birds’ nests peep from forks in holly and in a bag of pine cones not used for kindling last winter. Friendly wrens keep close company, nestling on little brown splotched white eggs in a cozy bundle of leaves, like the wind blew them there, shaped the small tunnel of pine needles, twigs, leaves and bits of soft grass and left-over wool. Soon the nest will arrive in a classroom to teach and charm children.

A yellow warbler clings to a butterfly bush branch working at a bit of partly-felted wool too short to spin, dangling there just for nests. I waited and watched as she struggled with the stubborn fibers, finally tugging a mouthful free and taking off in a flash. She was back in no time, lining her nest with our soft Romney wool.

The whip-poor-will is in a tree very near me. He doesn’t know I’m here. In winter they come to search the yard for bugs, ignoring bird seed. Summer is bug-time, birds are overjoyed: blue birds, fly catchers, cardinals, chipping sparrows, titmouses, chickadees, nuthatches, orioles, grosbeaks, gold finches, robins, catbirds, even the cow birds; especially the woodpeckers, tap, tapping on the pine bark.

Night things will be out in the barn, mice, an occasional rat, and the large snakes who hide well, and thrive on the rodents. In the yard our snakes eat moles, voles. Black racers, garter snakes, rat snakes, and ordinary black snakes need to dodge my Aussie, who hasn’t learned which are poisonous. She has yet to meet a copperhead. My Great Pyrenees, Emily, is wise to the difference– knows a corn snake from a copperhead, a prudent and sophisticated analysis. Emily ignores snakes unless its aggressive and could hurt us, her, or the sheep she protects.

Coyotes are in someone else’s fields and woods tonight–no yipping pack of predators and barking neighborhood dogs, lead by my Great Pyrenees, tonight. The danger is real: my friend’s Aussie was killed by coyotes last summer. Our fences are a mere impediment–if coyotes want in, they’ll get in. Sheep pasture has sturdy fence as well as a fierce 4-footed very loud protector.

Mosquitoes are waking up and finding warm blood to feast on (mine) while I revel in the solstice evening, clear and quiet.  One mosquito bite too many and I glide toward the house. Standing by the door, I hesitate to leave this magical dusk . Rain barrel is nearly empty, flowers gulp water in 90-degree summer. No respite at night when “cool” is 79 and humid.  Rain barrel and buckets of saved rain water breed flying bird-, toad- and peep-toad meals. Flowers have the benefit of extra compost in the squirming black noodles swimming in their water.  Highest-priority watering bucket is dark with embryos, air is thick around it with freshly hatched flying blood-suckers. Fewer of them to bite and breed, after I pour the bucket along rows of vegetables.

In dry summers, a dozen empty buckets and the rain barrel sit and wait for rain.  Kitchen gray water and compost coax gardens to thrive. Hot summers yield a pale-blue twilight, as the summer sun fades in the shadows of the yellow pine and oak, revealing a carpet of stars, by its absence. Dark arrives and “too-hoo” echoes off invisible woodpecker-drilled trunks of 90-foot yellow pines.


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