The plants have no idea of the virus that looms over us. They are simply carrying on, pushing onward and upward. Their presence, the delight they bring, is helping to calm our souls, give us something other than hand washing and mask wearing ( we are doing both!) and ‘mission accomplished’ trips to the store from being, always, in the very forefront of our minds. The woodland landscape here at the nursery is filled with bird chatter and bee activity and new blooms and texture. A feast. A bounty. A world enchanted. Here are a few quick snaps of plants catching our eye at the moment…be well and safe dear friends!
We have had many good dogs here at the nursery. There was this one: Boreal who amazed us with his intelligence and his loyalty. There was good old Miller dog This Old Dog…. who was like a Buddha in blond fur. Really, really great dogs. We loved them dearly and miss their personalities and presence in our every day.
And, then, well, there’s Lucky. Lucky was the tiny little pup our daughter brought home curled up in a blanket. “Mom, we HAVE to keep him, he’s so cute and he needs us and I promise, promise, promise, you won’t have to do a thing, I’ll do everything!” When a kid tells you that, it’s never really the truth. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog or a goldfish, as a parent, you end up buying the food or scraping the algae off the side of the fish bowl.
Lucky is pretty much my dog now and has been for over 6 years. The daughter still adores him but doesn’t live at home anymore and I have to admit that I fell so head over heals in love with this dog that I thought of every reason why it would be best if he stayed here at the nursery…stability, room to roam ( which he does little of!), the move too traumatic ( this was embellished a bit by me), on and on I went. Lucky is silly and very affectionate and quite frankly sees himself as sort of “The Prince of Fernwood”. He does very little to scare off deer or even chipmunks and prefers comfort over combat. He has an internal clock inside his head that keeps him devoted to his routine. The routine encompasses meal times, finding the warmest coziest spot to lounge, and bedtime. He does love his walks in the woods and car rides and helping us as we move the sheep fence at the farm…as long as it’s not too cold, not too windy, not too wet, or the sheep get too close ( he’s embarrassed to admit that sheep intimidate him). He is goofy and snuggly and adores his family. He loves to be pampered and that is why I cart his ‘day bed’ out to the hoop house everyday where it gets super toasty and he can enjoy basking in warmth while he snoozes. Pathetic. Comfort is number one for this dog, he loves people, will follow children anywhere, and truly appreciates the life he lives.
I am lucky for Lucky. I am. I am.
So, if you visit the nursery, you may meet Lucky. You may meet him if the day does not involve inclement weather and if he is not stretched out catching the sun. If the variables of comfort are aligned and he is inspired to make the trek from hoop house to sales area, he may saunter ( and I do mean saunter) up to the nursery to say hello.
Now, this poem, by Kate Barnes…which Lucky approves of.
Why Do You Ask?
I can’t make
about my life
tonight. The house
is like an overturned
is predicting more snow.
I ask my dog
to tell me
a story, and he
a time,” he says,
“a woman lived
with a simply
wonderful dog…” and
he stops talking.
Is that all?”
I ask him.
“yes,” he says,
“Why do you ask?
Isn’t it enough?”
Be well friends and please be safe and kind to yourselves and to others and to our big green world. See you soon!
As if the virus is not enough, here in Maine ( particullarly Waldo County) we experienced an epic late season snow storm. As of last Thursday, 15 inches of very wet snow took down trees and power lines ( and chicken coops) and we are still without power. This means running two generators to keep the greenhouse warm and all of our food freezers from thawing. At night, the alarm is set to ring every two hours so we can get up to ‘make the rounds’ checking the heater in the big greenhouse and looking for new downed limbs. Friday morning we woke to find a giant Ash tree had uprooted and fallen directly onto the chicken coop, smashing it to the ground. Yes, there was a coop full of unsuspecting chickens inside and by some miracle they all lived through the collapse. I crawled under the debris and plucked each one out from underneath the fallen timbers and handed them to Rick. They now have a new residence in the building we use for brooding new chicks, and, by the next day, they were back to laying eggs and enjoying the ‘more than usual’ extra treats we are offering them as a way of soothing their nerves.. I love my chickens, I really do.
Today is Monday and we are hoping, hoping, we may see some progress being made in our town. Here at Fernwood, though the extra work and rounds are tiring, we are fairly self sufficient and we are doing ok. We worry about some of our neighbors who are going without heat or water and we desperately want the power to be restored quickly so that they don’t have this extra burden placed on them.
Here at Fernwood we will keep plodding along, doing our work, looking toward brighter days. Be well and be safe, friends. We have very weird and uncertain times on our hands all over the world. On a lighter and positive note, we look forward to seeing gardeners soon, perhaps from a 6 ft. distance, but are hoping that the nursery will bring comfort and relief in the days to come.
The staying home here at the nursery has a silver lining. We are getting so much done! Plants are being potted up and sales ready. New exciting introductions are being nurtured and set out. The greenhouse and hoop house is filling with the tender shoots of green promise. The display gardens are surprising us with spring treasures on a daily basis… delight, delight! The mud is annoying ( did I say that?). I am creating a new display garden just for Epimediums and alpine plants. We are finishing up a new summer kitchen for classes ( so excited about this !). The wood fired bread and pizza oven is ready and has a newly built wooden structure over it. We are puttering along on the new food wagon we bought. What? New food wagon? Yes, the details are saved for another post but somehow I could not resist this little cute wagon we are calling ‘Local-Motion’. Well, we are humming along here at Fernwood Nursery and keeping our sights on promise and better days. We do hope all of you are staying safe and healthy and finding ways to keep your souls and hearts occupied with all good and helpful tasks. We look forward to seeing everyone when we are in the clear and can tend that great urge to get out and dig in our gardens. Be well and blessings to all of you!
P.S. If you need it, here is our email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As you can see, sometimes we may need a little prompt and some descriptive words to indicate that we have found the right place to build our home. I came across this wasp nest while walking through the woods on Christmas morning. The queen, who selects and begins construction on the swarm’s dwelling, could apparently read and found a “super spot’ for her home and nest. Was it the colors on the can? Was it the in-place tin roof? Was she just looking for something different? Who knows?
No doubt the can was left years ago by a woodsman who was out marking trees to be harvested. Evidence of human activity in the forest merging with the creatures who make their home there. That old oil can lent structure to the intricate and time consuming (and wondrous) construction efforts of the wasps. Yes, wondrous it is.
Growing up, as soon as the Christmas cards started showing up in the mailbox, my Mom, after opening them, would tape each and every one along the door trim of our dining area. For the next month, and possibly well into January, there would be a mural on the wall of angels and Christmas trees and giant snowflakes and scenes of snow covered landscapes. And, let us not forget, the cards with flying reindeer, and Santa, and the well dressed snowman with a corncob pipe and a button nose. As a child, I remember peering into the cards as they stuck half-open on the wall and reading (over and over again) the verses and greetings in each one. My sister and brother and I could stand across the room, point to a card and without looking, tell you who the sender was. There were cards from family, friends, my Dad’s work buddies, distant relatives, and even a ‘Christmas Appreciation and Thank You’ card from our little local grocery store, G & J Market.
My Mom sent cards as well and often during the month of December our kitchen table was a sea of envelopes, card boxes, stamps, and address lists. She always bought the assortment box of cards with the clear lid so you could see one example of what you were getting. She shopped at Woolworths for her greeting cards (remember Woolworths?) and if we were lucky and being that we were in the midst of cheery Christmas spirit and all, chances were good that we would have a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup ( Campbell’s) at the Woolworth lunch counter. The best! Of course, after Christmas all the boxed cards went on sale and my frugal mom would buy up several boxes. Often, however, they would get stored away and forgotten and we’d end up buying a new assortment just before the holiday the following year. Don’t worry Mom, this is happening to me now! Oh well.
Christmas cards and connecting with folks far and near is a way we can all send a small acknowledgement, a gift of words and a gift of graphics, from our homes and hearts. I truly swoon over Christmas cards and I send many, but I also keep some and simply place them around the house to enjoy the artwork. A small price to pay for art, heh? The growing season here at Fernwood is a busy time that doesn’t leave much opportunity for card sending. Right now, just like the maple dining set in my childhood home, my table is scattered with cards awaiting a few sentences, a wish for holiday cheer and blessings into the New Year.
Tis, the season for such things and it is a Christmas tradition that I can happily partake in! Well, off I go with pen, cards, envelopes, and stamps before the post office closes! Happy Holidays Friends!
So very true! We have never been what some may consider “shoppers”.
In fact, I personally dread going into town. During the holidays, it would be very much out of our character to gear up and take part in ‘Black Friday’ or to cruise the internet for ‘Cyber Tuesday’. December is a month for slowing down, for taking long hikes into the woods, for enjoying lengthy chats over tea, for a nightly game of cribbage. It is also, in fairness, the month we will actually send out a few gifts to our family…books for the grandchildren, some nice flannel sheets to the grown up kids, a requested kitchen tool for our daughter in-law. The other parcels will be hand-made…wool socks, baked goodies, linen napkins, hand-crafted tea blends and spice rubs, ointments and salves to keep dry wintry hands and lips soft and moisturized. Every year, because my kids are good and thoughtful kiddos, they ask me what I would like for Christmas. I never have a ‘thing’ I want. More importantly, I want time. I want an experience. I would like memories with them and our grand children to place lovingly on the timeline that seems to be collecting behind me. So, Noah, if you are reading this, here is what I would like from you for Christmas. I would like a whole day with just the two of us ice fishing on some far-reaching pond or lake. I want to make a fire out on the ice so we can cook up a stew and some biscuits and the fish we catch and then linger over it warming our hands and just being so happy to be in one another’s company. O.K? And, Daughter, from you I would like a day in the kitchen with a collection of good chocolate and heavy cream and fresh herbs and spices and any other yummy ingredients we can collect and then throw in to making a scrumptious meal. We’ll whip up some fantastic food and try new recipes and do a lot of taste testing and wear our favorite aprons and we’ll linger over conversation and we’ll laugh and laugh and laugh and take turns putting on our favorite music C.D.’s (which will mostly be your c.d.’s because that is how it rolls with you and music, but I won’t care and will be content listening to your selections). That’s what I want for Christmas from you Zoe, O.K.? And, Daughter in-law, just keep sending me pictures of those two amazing grandchildren and keep calling me to tell me of what new development has occurred or what funny thing Violet has said, or how Zeb continues to look out at the world with a perpetual smile on his face. And call me just to chat and catch up and count on me when you want to have an adult conversation about politics, or velvet furniture, or travel, or any other topic that doesn’t include laundry and sippy cups and lost 2T footwear. You are important and dear to me and I love how our relationship is growing and finding meaning all on its own. And, just so you know, your natural ability to being an absolutely fantastic mother and me bearing witness to this, is a gift every day.
True words, the older I get, the less I want or need in the way of ‘things’. However, for the record, if a bicycle powered washing machine showed up under our Christmas tree , I wouldn’t turn my my nose up at it. ( Noah, my faithful fabricator of all things?).
A small gathering of family and friends today. Quite possibly the smallest number of guests we have ever had. That’s OK, once I got over the shock and readjustment of not feeding a village, I settled into the idea of a more casual affair. It still meant 4 different kinds of pie ( it would be wrong not to have pumpkin, pecan, apple, and chocolate creme all represented, right?). It still meant heaping, though perhaps slightly less heaping, bowls of steamed turnip, mashed potatoes, and carrots. One can’t get by without roasting brussel sprouts (with a little pancetta and shallots and garlic, of course) and winter squash and beets from the garden. If I wasn’t bullied into making ( my own healthy version) of green bean casserole I am certain the numbers at the table next year would decline even more. And then there is the turkey. A smaller fowl this year but the traditional meat option won out. But, seeing that I am cruising through the lighter dinner menu with time on my hands ( for knitting, for reading, for relaxing…imagine that! Brilliant, I say!) I decided to bone out the turkey this year, cook all the parts separately, and stuff the breast with some yummy morsels…mushrooms, sausage, shallots, garlic, and Swiss chard. I’ll wrap the entire breast (I left the skin on) with some of our maple cured bacon and then place it in the oven for roasting. Ta-da! Here is the real kicker, we don’t have T.V but we do have an old screen and DVD player upstairs, so guess how we plan to spend our afternoon after stuffing ourselves with turkey, stuffing, and pie? We’re going to watch a movie! All of us lined up on the couch and in comfy chairs, perhaps a glass of cider or wine in hand, and indulge in a flick! So what did we choose? Our neighbor Jack ( who has no screen or DVD player) made the request based on his admiration for Meryl Streep.
So the Thanksgiving film is: The Laundromat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuBRcfe4bSo
How about that for a Thanksgiving change? Less but also more!
Hope you all enjoy the day, find thanks in the bounty and delight of life, family, friends, and apple pie! Happy Thanksgiving!
Here at home, the firewood is all in, the hay is put away in the loft, the freezers are full, and the nursery rows are tucked in for their winter slumber. Whew! A list of off season projects await our attention, some repairs around the house, a new outdoor summer kitchen (we built an outdoor wood fired bread oven!), and, of course, some crafting.
Thank you for checking in and continuing to read news and stories from Fernwood. I suppose there are just times we have to step away from the screen and give our cyper input a rest. Because the nursery and farm world at Fernwood so often involves physical engagement, I think switching my brain over to work on the computer can be challenging. I have had my rest, now back to it!
Stay tuned and it’s nice to be back! Happy fall, all!