Their Love Can Weather Any Storm

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This afternoon we had some severe thunderstorms hit our area. The rain came down in buckets, thunder and lightning filled the sky, and the streets quickly filled with water.

As I sat listening to the storm in our great room, I suddenly heard the distinct cooing of a morning dove. I carefully opened the shade on the window overlooking the A-frame in the cucumber garden and there on top of the structure were two soaking wet morning doves.

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This couple must have gotten stuck in the storm.  I am not sure if it’s true, but I heard that birds will not fly in a storm. Seeing this pair of birds patiently sitting in the rain, not daring to fly, makes me think this may be so.

For more than an hour the rain pounded them, but neither made any move to leave.

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Not until the rain stopped and they had fluffed themselves somewhat dry, did they take flight.

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The most wonderful part of watching this scene was that when this couple did take flight, they did it together. First they flew to a fence just beyond the A-frame, then to a fence at the end of my neighbors property,

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and then finally into the safety of a pine tree.  All the while, they were together, never faltering, as one.

Love can be found everywhere, but today it was right outside my window and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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Swallowing My Pride In The Name Of Swallowtails

A few weeks ago the dill I planted for canning pickles this year began to sprout and quickly took over the pot I had given it. Last week, however, I began to notice that the pot seemed to be shrinking, or at least the thriving dill inside it.

Upon closer inspection I discovered tiny caterpillars crawling among the dill. At first I thought they were Monarch butterfly caterpillars.  We had raised Monarch’s several years ago, so I was familiar with them.  These caterpillars looked nearly identical to the Monarch’s, but seeing as these little guys were eating dill and not milkweed, I knew better.  Monarch’s only eat milkweed.

After I told Grace about them, she did a little research and informed me that what we had were swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. These caterpillars eat fennel, dill, carrot tops, and a few other greens that I have planted throughout the yard. The only place I found the caterpillars however was on the dill.

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Grace, knowing that I am a sucker for all things nature, asked if she could keep the caterpillars. We read up on them and found that although these caterpillars were nearly ready to form their chrysalis’, they could stay in them for up to a year.  This would not work in our house.

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Monarch butterflies emerge from their chrysalis 10 to 14 days after they are formed. Waiting an entire year and maintaining a healthy environment for a swallowtail chrysalis was not something I believed we could do. Still, Grace pleaded for me not to remove the caterpillars from their happy temporary home in the dill.

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Even though leaving the caterpillars in the dill to continue eating before the long sleep in their chrysalis might mean no dill for canning this year (at least home-grown), I agreed.  What’s a little dill in the scheme of things?

Most of the dill has been eaten right to the roots. Oh well, better luck next year.

Most of the dill has been eaten right to the roots. Oh well, better luck next year.

So, for the past week we have watched as the tiny caterpillars ate and grew and today I can report that all but one has moved on to find a comfortable, safe place to form its chrysalis. It is amazing how they just seem to disappear from the pot with no sign of them anywhere.

Next year I will be sure to plant at least two pots of dill and perhaps some fennel too. This way maybe I’ll have enough to feed the swallowtail caterpillars and save some dill for canning. So begins my gardening to do list for 2016!

The dill is all but eaten to the roots, but at least there is comfort in knowing we might have had a hand in a few more swallowtail butterflies gracing the world with their presence, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

Garden Update – June 20, 2015

Things are proceeding quite nicely in the gardens. While we were on vacation the weather cooperated perfectly and upon our return we were greeted with flourishing green plants, spreading like wildfire.

Bush and Pole Beans two days before we left on vacation.

Bush and pole beans the day before we left. Hubby and I put the poles up the night we left.

Bush and pole beans the day before we left. Hubby and I put the poles up the night we left.

Beans one week later.

Notice how the pole beans climbed almost to the top of the poles in the week we were gone.

Notice how the pole beans climbed almost to the top of the poles in the week we were gone.

Cucumbers before we left on vacation.

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Cucumbers after I had to tie them to the A-frame one week later.

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Corn and pumpkins before we left.

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Corn and pumpkin vines that had grown beyond the garden and had to be flipped back towards the corn, one week later.

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I hope this pace keeps up.  Already there are tiny cucumbers on the cucumber vines and lots more flowers. The pumpkins have flowers as well.

It’s amazing how quickly things change in the garden.  Looking at it day in and day out I don’t always notice the changes. What a difference a week makes.  I’ll definitely have to start paying better attention, otherwise I might not witness all the wonders nature has to offer in the garden.

My garden is growing, growing, growing, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Tiny Bee Visitors

The past four days have been spent picking, cleaning, prepping, and canning strawberries, pineapple, rhubarb, lemons, limes, mangos and apricots.  It has been exhausting, but satisfying.

So far I have canned ten different concoctions and still have a fresh flat of strawberries and some rhubarb that Grace and I picked this morning, six pineapples, a case of apples, and a few kiwi left to work with.  Tomorrow the strawberries will be finished along with the rhubarb and pineapple, I hope.  Then I’ll finally have some time to sit down and share some of the recipes with you.

For now, I took a break from the hot kitchen this afternoon to check out my garden and other plants and found some tiny bees on the flowers of my own strawberry plants.  I might not get many strawberries this year, but the flowers are certainly giving these tiny bees a workout.

First there was one!

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 Then there were two! 

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Finally, there were three!

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I love canning and everything that it brings me, but even with the urgency I feel to get all the fruit we’ve picked canned it was nice to take a short break and witness one of nature’s finer moments, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

A Nature Walk With My Eyes Open

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. – Albert Einstein

I took a break from the hustle and bustle of my daily demands and decided to take some time to appreciate my surroundings today.  Here is what I saw:

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Sometimes it’s necessary to pause and indulge in the moment.  Today I remembered to not just walk down the path, but to see it, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.