Paths forward through the pandemic

Christmas is but a few days away. The hustle and bustle of previous years is dissipated, gratefully so. I for one do not miss the frenzy. Record snowfalls in some parts of the U.S. and cold temperatures everywhere encourage Christmas bakers to practice their art. Snowball cookies, or nut butter balls, pressed sugar cookies, chocolate turtles and Christmas buckeyes, are all waiting to be devoured. Gifts of orange and walnut sweet breads are baked and delivered to friends. (The oranges are shared offerings from our neighbor’s citrus trees!)

My New Mexico family will be missed, as will my New York family. Joyfully, Connecticut arrives tonight.

In recent days, walking on our beautiful Island has brought a calm and peaceful feeling. Somehow knowing our New Mexico family is enjoying the great outdoors and walking their own path makes me happy.

Not together, but part of the same and taking time from the business of life to move forward on paths to happiness.

Merry Christmas. Let the sparkle fill your hearts!

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Pandemic Ponderings

When a lockdown occurred in March, did we think that those two weeks would extend to 9 months? The first Pandemic progeny are being born. So what have you been doing? It is obvious to anyone who subscribes to my Blog, that I haven’t found more time for more posting!

November sunset, Skidaway Island

End of the day sunsets still manage to draw me to the water. A golf cart ride away in the summer, and with a jacket and hat, still an appealing before dinner ride on clear nights in Autumn.

There is so much more time spent in the kitchen as we try to make the most necessary activity, also entertaining. The NYT Sunday edition has a new page, suggesting 5 recipes to try cooking at home. Sparking a little more creativity, I have tried many of them.

Endless new series on tv to start and finish. The Queen’s Gambit is enthralling! Maybe it’s a touch of ADHD, but I can’t sit still through all that viewing, so there is a lot of stitching to accompany all the movies and series in the evening. One project completed, another one started.

Whale canvas finished as pillow
Staffordshire dog to be finished as door stop

It is still perfect weather to be working in the garden, both at our farm plot and around our home in Savannah.

Camellia Mine-No-Yuki, propagated 2 years ago

Thanksgiving will be sad this year, with our family staying put in New Mexico, Connecticut, and New York. We plan to have our dinner with a couple in our neighborhood . It will be outdoors, weather permitting. To bring some early cheer into our lives, the Christmas decorating has started.

It begins at the front door, changing the cushion covers, remove the pumpkins, start to add pine cones and pillows. More to come. Those light fixtures need a swag or bow…

I really did feel joy as I pulled out all of past years’ decorations and the memories they hold. It will be a different holiday time this year but one thing that remains… the glory of a sunset at the end of the day.

Sunset Park, Skidaway Island

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Time for Taos

Have you started to travel? Instead of getting in a car or on a plane or boat, are you visiting with friends and family afar through a Zoom call, Skype or FaceTime call? We made a 14 hour car trip in June/July to NY/CT because those virtual visits did not measure up to the REAL thing. That was bliss.

Old Greenwich CT

When our Taos NM family asked us if we wanted to visit them in September, our airline tickets were purchased pronto. Notice I haven’t mentioned the reason everyone has halted non-essential travel? I will attempt to write this post without mentioning the name of the scourge.

I am afraid of flying. And I am as afraid of dying as is normal. But I was more afraid of going another year without BEING with our son and DIL. The love of family and the Land Of Enchantment is a strong pull. The moment I walked out of the Albuquerque terminal, I felt it. A visceral emotion that overtook me as I inhaled the light air; the landscape enfolded me.

The landscape. The Rio Grande.

Sangre de Christo Mountains. The road past hay fields and horses,

the apple trees, Our son’s life. We had been missing all of this. And ….there were puppies to hold, puppies to feed, puppies to clean up after, and puppies to love. It’s hard to start the day without a smile, if there are puppies!

My Own puppies

I hope no one on our 4 flights was sick. I hope that no one on our 4 flights gets sick. Eleven days have passed, since our return, so I think I can say, it was, for us, a safe trip. Who knows when I will follow my heart out West again, but this thing I won’t speak of, can’t stop me from trying.

The road home
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Summer Slides By

Looking back at this blog over the years, you might not know a pandemic swept the world in 2020. This blog doesn’t reflect the life altering event of which no one is immune. Before summer slides by, as three seasons before have done….let me tell you what the quarantine and isolation have been like for a gardener on Skidaway Island.

Actually, we have been among the fortunate ones. So far only 100 or so cases have been reported on our little Island of about 14,000, and for the first few months we didn’t hear of any but two. My Photos file is filled with the usual groups of sunsets, flowers, plants and landscapes. Despite Covid 19, the natural world started to come to life in March, even as the humans retreated and stayed at home. Guess what, the natural world doesn’t need humans!

The stark contrast to pandemic life on Skidaway Island, came when we ventured forth to New York City in July. On the island of Manhattan, humans are needed. Except for a few pockets of green and a good sized pocket called Central Park, the concrete, stone and steel world would take a long time to revert back to a natural place. We parked by our first home together, a condo on the Upper East side. When the street tree died right in front of our ground floor garden apartment, I spent a lot of time getting the City to replace it. I must be old, because that tree has grown so tall!

The only thing similar about our first home and our current home, is a leaning tree and the iron fencing.

Downtown areas in New York were just opening up at the start of July, but the Upper East side was eerily quiet. The boarded up store fronts were so depressing but by now, I hope things are getting back to normal, whatever that will be….

July in New York was anything but normal.

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On The Street Where You Live

On the street where you live, anyone can tell who the gardeners are among the residents. They will have a killer container, one that wasn’t purchased at the local box store, leading to the front door. Or if it is mass produced, that container will be filled with an array of beautifully assembled plants. And if the plants are not an unusual assortment, but maybe just red geraniums, then they are always perfectly groomed, no dead leaves, and predictably blooming with gusto and always the most vibrant you have seen.

On my street, you can find me year round. Not just one container, but 93 (no, not all at the front door.) This month, look for me where the Crinum asiaticum (giant crinum lily) is blooming at the mail box!

What is at your front door or mail box?

Crinum asiaticum
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Drive By

What do you think about drive by garden hopping? I am bereft that there are no organized garden tours in 2020. I have a need to stroll some gardens! Here I am, so close to NYBG, and they are closed! It is sad!

Is it wrong to snap photos of gardens and beautiful yards from the street? After all, you can look at any property in the world, almost, from Street View or from the air, on Google maps.

Old Greenwich CT

I am sure you aren’t allowed to sell or make money on those photos taken of private property. But I feel sure that any gardener or proud property owner would be flattered that you thought they were worthy to share on your blog.

Driving around the Old Greenwich area, near where I am staying, has been a delight! The hydrangea are spectacular this year! Yesterday, this homeowner (below) got my blue ribbon. The abundance of plant material! Some I did not recognize….stump the horticulture judge! Can you name every plant? What do you think of the living fence being grown? I would like to try that! Do you think those posts are set in cement? I really need a garden partner on these drive bys! I have so much garden conversation bottled up! What about you?

Old Greenwich garden

With the Covid virus raging in the world, I thank God for Nature’s offering. There is so much calm to be found in the garden…a natural relief from stress. There is evidence all around us that people are spending more time outdoors in their gardens and allowing themselves to breath deeply….and let the worry over the virus blow away with the soft breeze. It is a way to take care of your emotional health until we get this behind us. Take care!

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Tomato Time

Hey y’all in the North! Bet your veggies are just taking hold, and the bugs and diseases are about to creep in! Here on coastal Georgia, we are already harvesting! Already dealt with caterpillars and worms and whitefly! Captain Jacks dead bug spray was my organic go to, along with trusty Neem Oil. Before any critter can even think about taking a bite, here is what I brought home yesterday for a little window ripening time. Yum!

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So Easy to Get Lost

It is so easy to get lost in the tumble of days produced when a Pandemic seizes the world. Saturday? Thursday? The usual timetable gets thrown aside and the rhythms of your life are upended. The day ends, you watch the glow of sun recede and you’re embarrassed that you have little to show in terms of productivity.

But then #something very ordinary happens, and you remember what it is like to have a method and a madness to your day. Our garage door broke, irretrievably broken, the steel facing of the door ripped away as the bolts no longer held…what a mess.

So now, you are pressed into action. make the calls, get the estimates, examine the options!

Pick a window, any window

Taking breaks from the garden play and chores, we hopped aboard the golf cart to see what our neighbors had chosen for garage doors.

Carriage door design
Carriage door with windows
Not a carriage door and different windows
Similar and stately
What about a black garage door?
Or three black garage doors?
Dark doors with cascading vines?
Carriage door again, but with extreme hardware
Carriage door with a happy moustache feel
Speaking of happy!
Carriage garage door, plain and simple
Love the doors, but not suitable for our house

Apparently a broken garage door requires an essential service, so we now have been stirred from our stupor of days. Try not to lose your way forward. We will don our masks, and stand at a distance, and try to get this done. Slowly, ever so slowly, the world will try to defeat this virus and get back to some sense of normalcy. We can hope we have all learned something…how to be quiet, how to be still, and yet we will continue to have to deal with broken doors….

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Walking through your Neighborhood

Weather permitting, we try to walk at least once a day, and that does not include the short walks with the dogs. We are fortunate to live in a beautiful place.

Skidaway Island

There are walking paths along both the Eastern and Western Marsh. Our walk along the Western Marsh was lovely, quiet and breezy, with warm sunshine. With a view like that, creating a garden is almost superfluous.

Western Marsh along Skidaway River

The architecture on this Island is regulated, but there are still many different styles to be seen. There aren’t many blue homes, but this one was handsome.

We passed along the side of a tabby house, that we had viewed when we were searching for a home here. Glad we didn’t choose it because a new home was built on the side, and seems to block the former view of a particularly appealing lagoon.

Fountains and water features are often part of Island gardens here. On this particular walk, I discovered a fountain I had not seen before.

This is a very difficult time to be living through, and I know so many people are suffering without being able to see and be with their families and friends. A simple walk does a lot to clear the mind, though it doesn’t change the reality. Another thing I look forward to, is a visit by the fox family in my back yard. The two kits have been coming out in the evenings. I am insisting they keep a wide social distance from my two beloved dogs! So far, we are coexisting nicely.

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The Basics

In the midst of a world wide pandemic, we get back to basics. Forgoing pre-made meals and restaurant food, we head to the kitchen pantry. We think about the food pyramid and plan meals accordingly.

The pantry holds many food groups, but not the most important …fresh fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, gardening in Coastal Georgia, the fresh greens are still producing.

Swiss Chard

Pesto, made from last summer’s basil bounty, was pulled from the freezer for a favorite ravioli dish. Is anyone else baking bread? This one is from The Craftsman’s Cook Book. My first job out of college was with the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York. The crafts movement was at its peak, and young people were toting peace, love, and back to the basics. Here we are again, and this bread fits my mood.

Ravioli with pesto sauce

Dilly Casserole Bread

If I am not isolated in our home, you will find me exploring the yard. Spring has arrived, oblivious to Covid19. There is much beauty to be found. Just remember to keep washing your hands, stay close to the natural world but far from humans…at least 6 feet apart.

What are you doing in isolation?

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