Late to the party

I’m getting a late start today.

My frantic mind had settled enough to let the sun come up without my help,
which gave the overnight coating of sleet enough time to begin to melt,
and sorting the box of newly arrived garden seeds was a most pleasurable task to begin with, then a walk to the compost pile turned into a bike ride in the greenhouse,
which lead me to Ruth…

(photo credit Mother Earth News)

Ruth Stout.
The other party to which I am late in coming today.

Arriving at this sixtieth decade I seem to be only just now stumbling across the paths of quite a few amazing humans. This week it is Ruth.
Or was, as she left the planet after 96 years of living here, back in 1980.

I’ll bet that most of my hard core gardening friends are smirking as they read this having known of Ruth and her simple ways well before my stumble…Ruth Herself didn’t throw away her tillers and pesticides until she was 60…so there ya go.

The evolution of my own gardening life saw me give away a brand new tiller a few years ago after learning about building better soil by letting the critters do the work..and I know many of you followed along as I adopted Joel Karsten’s Strawbale method which I have been experimenting with for about 5 years now… and that has morphed more recently into my latest guru Charles Dowding’s No Dig compost only beds which Kory has been helping me build and tend.

Well move on over and pass the hay…
it’s time to quit working so hard and strip down to the essentials.

I’ll let you enjoy this introductory video… for those who are not smirking,
and you can google down this rabbit hole to your hearts’ content…
because it’s time for me to lift some brushes…
but before I go…
here’s a little teaser of a nod to my favorite part…
she gardens in the buff.
Yes.
Yes.


Solstice Gardening

A little dirt on your hands…in December ???

You bet.

I’ve been watching the forecast like a hawk and we’ve got a slight warming trend for the next week or so…averages above 40 and near 50 degrees. And coupled with the sunshine Finn and I headed out this morning to soak up some of that vitamin D, and I thought you’d like to join us.

In the photo above you can see those beds which Kory and I tucked in for the winter. The two in the foreground have some plantings and a cold frame. Let’s take a peak…

Under that tunnel on the right is an earlier fall planting of carrots. I invested in those tunnels for the first time this year and they are terrific. The manufacturer is Haxnicks. I went just now to Amazon to find a link but they only have the fleece version. The one shown here has a poly netting. Very sturdy and allows a lot of light in as well as terrific insect protection. They also make a heavier shade version which I’ve used with great success in deep summer heat. I’m using this one to cover the carrots and provide a structure over which I can drape a heavier plastic sheeting for insulation. We’ve had weeks of sub-freezing temps and so far they are not dead…so that’s a win.

The mini greenhouses, one shown on the left, are new this year. They fit the bed perfectly and I anchored them to the wooden frames for extra security. I did find that link…click here. (Actually I just checked the link and it is not the exact one shown above but it is the same manufacturer. Might need to do more surfing than I have time for right now to find the right one.)

So far I love them. I had a larger version of them years ago and, in the warmer winters, it gave me a full extra season of growth for kale and chard and even some pop up spinach volunteers.

You can see this swiss chard, planted last march, is still going strong and is my go to smoothy ingredient.

Today it was time to experiment with the second one I bought, and so the flat of seedlings which have been keeping me company inside the studio were ready to rock and roll…

I popped out a few of the kale and Hakuri turnips and out we went…

My theory is that this one may be warmer than the other as it is sheltered from some of the winds by the greenhouse which may also throw back some warmth from the south facing sun.

Here you can also see the easy access from the zippered panels.

Boy did it feel great to sit on my garden bench and hold the Hori Hori knife, and just like that they were planted. I have zero expectations that newly planted seedlings will make it planted this late but I live in hope these days.

It wasn’t in the original plans, but I thought adding one of those tunnels here might give an extra layer of warmth, and it worked out perfectly as a support for…

Yep…the christmas lights.

Somewhere I read of a  gardener putting a string of lights inside a cold frame to add a tiny bit of heat during the night. Why the hell not. I can never get enough of christmas lights.

I’ve put the compost thermometer in there so I’ll have some idea of the comparison between the two covered beds.

As you can see, a solid 43 degrees before I covered was promising.

And here we are all bundled up and ready to grow…maybe.

 

It’s a sea of mud out there now, and shortly after I wrote last week’s post those pesky Muses actually did show up and have made up for my basket of angst by hurling half a dozen new and sparkling challenges my way.

So…as Finn conquers…it’s time for me to get back to the easel…

But Oh My Goddesses did it ever feel good to be out working in the garden on this almost Solstice day.

 

 

 


My summer vacation…

This summer we enjoyed a staycation. We had a blast at the Granary Gallery Show at the end of July… here’s a few pics from that week of fun

Then we returned to this little corner of the world wherein we toil and play…here are just a dozen or so pics out of the hundreds I took this year of the studio garden…note I had a helper this year, Kory, who did most of the heavy lifting…yeah !

There was a wonderful visit from Alex, who is probably banging on some drum at a band concert about now…

Kory and I built a new walkway, and he cleared us a beautiful view of our creek…

Zoe spent a week at Camp Gran and Mima, and was a terrific helper…

We taught her to play Clue…

Then we taught Arthur to play Clue…

We celebrated Andrew Wyeth’s 100th birthday with stamps and a trip to see his retrospective at the Brandywine River Museum…

We took in an O’s game with Doug and Scott…

I pretty much parked myself on the studio porch for weeks, and carved spoon after spoon and then got out the spinning wheel and spun my way through the last of the long locked lincoln fleece…

And we kept up the tradition…of opening and closing the season at Reeser’s…

I did a bit of commission painting somewhere in there, and a lot of wool gathering, in addition to the spinning…

Delayed by a hurricane or two, we have just finished packing the car…Finnegan’s followers will be just about as pleased as she was to know that her bed and bowls have been included… and tomorrow we head back to the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

An extended autumn stay to allow the muses to take me down some new roads, and listen to new stories, and refresh my soul.

So this is just to say,
that we are well,
we are grateful,
and we want you all to stay safe out there.

I catch you on the other side of the leaves…

 


Fiddly Dee

Fiddlehead-Primavera

It’s almost, almost that time of year again…

This morning my favorite mystery writer, Laurie R King had a post on her facebook page about the fiddleheads that she scored at a market in San Francisco and tried for the first time. It reminded me, among other things that I wanted to let readers know that her latest Mary Russell novel,

image

is a fantastic read. I usually save her novels to listen to when I paint especially complicated paintings because she is similarly in love with detail and I get swept away with her thoughtful prose. Makes the time fly at the easel and I always learn something new.

So run to your local bookstore and add this to that pile by your favorite chair. And then go take a walk in this fine spring air and hunt for fiddleheads. Warning, not all ferns are edible so do the research, or trust your local farmers market.

I am working too hard with the brushes to walk amongst the woods, but I am yours…

Dreaming of Fiddleheads


Disappearing Purple

green bean tea

The other day I was talking with my friend Katie and we got to comparing our gardens this year. She was excited to be growing purple beans but disappointed to discover that they turned green after being cooked….hmmmmm ?

At the time, my beans were just beginning to grow…

beans beginning

so I had to wait…and wait…

beans 1

This week they are ready to pick !
And Zoe is here to help,

zoe and beans

funny zoe and beans

So we filled up the blue box,
with purple and green beans,

picked beans

and threw them in the boiling water with the pasta…
(which I forgot to take a picture of …)
and YES, the purple ones DID turn green.
But not to worry, Zoe reports that they both taste the same and she should know because the entire box went into her belly.

It’s been wonderful to have an assistant in the garden and we have lots more to do before she leaves so I’ll sign off now…

Yours in red wagons and gummy bears…

wagon

 

 

 


Fiddle Dee Dee

Ah the rights of Spring !fiddlehead-primavera

And the time honored traditions of the favorite meal of my “salad days” back in Watertown…Mussels and Fiddlehead Ferns…celebrated now in my dotage…

fiddle

I’m still lifting a glass of the bottom shelf chardonnay in toast to the delicacy…
But nowadays I am using my organically home grown onions and garlic from the studio gardens…

Progress


Deep Spring

island-souls-eve

 

It’s this kind of a morning here in the studio yard…although this is a painting of the bluff in Chilmark and those spider webs are over a decade old.

Our spider webs, here in the hollers of Strinestown, are brand new and based on the jungle of gossamer threads that I am pulling out of my face and hair…I have yet to learn this spring’s prime locations.

The experts keep saying our flora are three or more weeks behind this growing season but that is based on the last few years of climate change which has now become the new norm. These long weeks of cool days and cool nights are what I remember as being the springtime of my youth. Slowly warming temperatures and gentle rains gave the gardeners time to ease into the toolshed and let the winter weak muscles wake up gradually.

We did have an early zap of three or four days of 90 degree days and my thriving spinach began to bolt…but almost a month later in which temps stayed 20-30 degrees cooler…it has settled back down and I have been able to test several spinach artichoke dip recipes.

Neighbor Sue and I have noted that this is the craziest grass growing season ever. She can’t keep up with it and she is one who lives to mow.

The peas, radishes, beets and carrots I planted back on St. Patrick’s day are sooooooooo slow to climb up outta the dirt. But the lilacs…oh the lilacs…they are loving this weather and,  when I leave the studio late in the evening, their fragrance fills the valley and soothes my tired soul.

So, while the world outside might be three weeks behind and dragging its arboreal heels…inside the studio this artist is racing the clock and hopping.

The countdown is on for the Granary Gallery show this summer…July 21 is the opening date…and I’ve taken on a major challenge which I’ll be telling you about soon. For now I can tell you that the brushes, mostly the tiny ones, are flying from early morning until late and later… and later… each night.

There’s a very large panel on the easel right now and and it makes a hilarious contrast to the tiny brushes that I am using. The detail is electric and the concentration required keeps me so focused that only the thing which has been able to break it is the nuclear bolt of lightening that lifted me off the chair last night.

So…here’s to a real old fashioned spring…
and a face full of spider webs…
and a rich green carpet of grass…
and a studio full of flying brushes.

Enjoy !


Passages…

It’s a beautiful day for a birthday.

Friends have been checking in and the cake is out of the oven. A nice morning sitting in the sun in the garden looking for signs of spring and catching up with an old pal. Might even get a little painting done before the day is out but mostly I’m just enjoying the peace and love the this stage of life is bringing and the great fortunes of good friends.

Another passage of sorts is being played out on the island and our long loved refuge and retreat, Camp Sunrise, is finally facing the ravages of mother nature.

the-shell-seeker

Here’s a painting of the bluff in front of camp from about 2003… and here is a photo of it now…

camp

We’ve all known this day was coming. And I am forever grateful for the decades of opportunities to sit on this very porch and ponder the sea. As well as the gift of being able to chronicle some of its corners and quirks and patina in the paintings over the years.

But now it is time to say goodbye. As you can read in the article in the MV Gazette, http://www.mvgazette.com/news/2013/04/04/second-stonewall-beach-home-teetering-cliff-must-be-moved
the house is now done. The main Camp house will be demolished…I can barely stand to write that…but the garage,

the-temple-of-my-familiar

and bunkhouse,

Retreat

will be moved in tact out to the back of the property…

Sophie's-Passage

way out to where that stone wall stands.

So I will take the lessons from this sunny spring day and look forward and ahead to many more years of walking this earth, and what’s left of this bluff and be grateful for each one of the flowers along the way.


Winter Watering

Yes, when the winter hibernation is in full swing, production inside the studio soars. But, at least in my case, this is primarily due to the fact that my garden is sleeping. When the sun shines…I would rather be digging in the dirt.

This morning the sun is brilliant. Air cleared out by last nights storm. Creek roaring at full throttle. And my watering buckets are full …

  

So I lifted the flap on my little greenhouse and gave the tenders a drink.

It does an artist’s heart good to see these beautiful greens in the month of January and, with the seed catalogues piling up, the big greenhouse will soon be ready for action… 

 

OK, enough of that garden talk. Time to get back to the easel. But…there will be a tiny salad on my lunch table.