Each year, after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I so very much enjoy the January pace of life. This year was no exception. There were enough weather-related cancellations to allow for some margins in our weeks. During those margins, games were played, puzzles were put together, and long-neglected toys were brought out to use in new and creative ways. Time was spent crafting, reading, cracking and picking out black walnuts, listening to Beethoven and Chopin, and collecting maple sap. There were more consistent times of family Bible reading, singing, and playing piano. I took a yoga class, planned the vegetable gardens, ordered seeds, and researched relaxed home school styles and methods. On more than one occasion, we enjoyed a visit with friends. For me, this January was a much-needed time of refreshment. I deliberately wanted to press into the moments, to take in nourishment for the soul and spirit so that I might have energy to give of myself in the coming months of many interactions and busy moments.
As February has commenced, our days have become fuller; but the anticipation of spring is upon us. During this week of temperatures in the 70s, the children have played outside, trees have begun to push out buds, and daffodils and crocuses have burst into bloom. After checking the long range weather forecast for March and April, it appears that spring may be here to stay; so I tucked a few seeds in the ground including spinach, kale, chard, lettuce, parsley, and radishes. If I can find a clear day with some time, the peas, carrots, and beets will be next.
After the cold and hibernation of winter, spring sunshine and warmth enliven the spirit. Each season has its value and joys.
I am grateful to report that our gardens produced well this year. The green beans and tomatoes have been especially plentiful resulting in a level full deep freeze. We were also able to enjoy lots of fresh lettuce and greens and some carrots. There were enough peas to put some in the freezer and a decent crop of potatoes and onions. Herbs included mint, parsley, oregano, cilantro, and dill. A variety of squash and a few cucumbers were harvested. Peppers are still waiting to be picked. I am hoping they will turn from green to yellow before the first frost. Lima beans are still flowering and filling out in the pods.
At one point in September, when I had run out of room in the freezer and felt we had enough for our purposes, I decided to join our farmer’s market for the day. Farmer’s markets are something I enjoy visiting, but I really love setting up a table. There is a joy in providing a product that other people desire and in sharing knowledge of produce and cooking ideas. People seem to want to share their stories: both customers and vendors talked of life’s sorrows, tough times, and joys. Our daughter came with me, and we had a great day. We had small amounts of beans, herbs, squash, tomatoes, and flowers. We sold some of everything, but the real surprise was the hydrangeas I had cut on a whim. They sold out quickly. Next year, I hope to participate more often in the market.
A few days ago, I noticed the beauty and variety on our cupboard counter. The vegetables came from our gardens, most of the canned goods were a gift, and the nuts, we picked up on the trail. Gracious provision from our Creator!
The weather has begun to feel like fall the last few days, and I love it! I have always had a fondness for autumn. I find the cooler temperatures invigorating. There is a different kind of beauty to the season.
Driving up the mountain today, I noticed the great variety of wildflowers blooming: the intense purple of the iron weed, the brilliant yellow of the goldenrod, and the pale pink of the queen of the meadow. There were other kinds I couldn’t identify: two different varieties of delicate violet blossoms, some tiny white ones, and one that looked like a miniature black-eyed Susan.
At camp, the hydrangea bush is blushing pink as its blossoms dry.
While harvesting tomatoes, beans, and carrots, I noticed the sky has begun to look like autumn as well: baby blue with puffy white clouds lying low over the tops of the mountains.
What a beautiful day on the mountain!
After full weeks of hosting summer volunteer groups, I was feeling spent; so having a time of relaxation and renewal was a blessing. As a family, we experienced spiritual refreshment at Roxbury Holiness Camp, relaxed as we experienced Chincoteague and Assateague, and reconnected with family in a variety of settings.
At the ocean, the children frolicked in the waves both with and without boogie boards and created sandcastles on the beach.
My husband and I enjoyed the water and sitting under an umbrella. There is something quite soothing about the sound of the waves on the seashore.
One morning, we climbed the winding stairs to the top of a lighthouse. The view was amazing. I felt dizzy as we peered over the railing.
After a time away, it feels good to be home. I was so glad to see that the gardens are still producing. We picked green beans, corn, tomatoes, carrots, beets, squash, a cucumber, parsley, and various greens. Fourteen quarts of beans were added to the freezer.
Tonight we enjoyed a crock pot meal made of many ingredients from our garden including potatoes, onions, squash, tomatoes, parsley, and oregano.
Praise the Lord for His gracious provision!
The garden is yielding its bounty. After several harvests, there are twenty-eight quarts of beans in the freezer.
The red beets should have been harvested sooner. Even though they are pretty large, I plan to make some fermented pickled beets with them.
I was going to wait to harvest the carrots, but I decided to pull the ones that were poking up through the wood chips. In the four places we have gardened, I have never grown carrots this long. I am thinking the wood chips really helped to amend the soil.
Thank the Lord for His good gifts!
Beautiful blossoms are attracting the butterflies and bees.
The other day, I noticed this tree blooming. The blossom is like a bristly feather fan.
We have got quite a stand of mullein growing out of an old pile of coal at camp.
The string beans are bearing: both Roma and wax. The second picture, which I think has interesting perspective, was taken by our youngest.
A friend dropped off a solar dehydrator for us, so I am experimenting with herbs and greens.
Interesting mushrooms are growing under the oak tree beside our garden. I think they might be edible, but I am too cautious to try them!
An afternoon at Martin’s Fork Lake was a welcome break from the heat we have been experiencing. I had forgotten how beautiful the view is there.
The gladiolus have burst into bloom this week.
On July 4, we were invited to a celebration at a fellow church member’s home. After hours of fun including swimming, water sliding, trampoline jumping, music, and socializing, the fireworks show began. It was a fabulous show complete with music, lighted balloons, laser lights, and the longest grande finale I have ever seen.
This time of year, blossoms, both wild and domesticated, can be seen declaring the glory of God. Every week, there seems to be a different type of flower in its peak. In the woods, the wild azaleas are displaying their brilliant orange blooms; and by the lodge, the delicate purple flowers of the hostas have pushed up above the leaves.
I am always struck by the flow of plants through the spring and summer. In the vegetable garden, the peas are nearly finished producing; but this week, the beans and tomatoes began to blossom, promising more produce in the weeks to come.
What is in the box that has captured the attention of these children? It’s a box turtle rescued from the trail. The creature provided wholesome entertainment on a rainy day. The next day, a ring neck snake in a box caused quite a stir among the kids.
One evening, the sun was a bright fire ball slowly sinking behind the mountains. A camera cannot fully capture its beauty.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” -Psalm 19:1
Before our summer season of volunteers begins, we grabbed the chance to have a bit of family vacation. Since we have lived in Kentucky for ten years, we figured we should take in the world heritage site of Mammoth Cave. To quote Stephen Bishop, an early guide, the cave is “grand, gloomy, and peculiar.” The tour guide shared interesting tidbits of information, and it was an adventure squeezing through narrow passages and climbing and descending hundreds of steps.
Being part of the National Park System, there is more to Mammoth Cave than what is underground. There are also trails to hike and beautiful sights to see above ground.
After our time away, we returned home to welcome my husband’s parents for a visit. Our youngest celebrated his ninth birthday with presents, lasagna, and ice cream cake. Since school is out, there has been lots of time for play including match box car races, marble track, and trampoline.
The garden has yielded some beautiful produce. The bountiful rains have filled out the radishes and strawberries and caused the greens and herbs to produce large leaves.
Our last home school group meeting was a field trip to Pine Mountain Settlement School where we toured their agricultural initiatives including gardens, chickens, honey bees, and hoop houses. A gorgeous, sunny day after several rainy days was a welcome treat.