Gifted

These are the remains of a sewing basket that belonged to a dear and special friend of mine. Her name was Alva. She hemmed all of her own pants and fixed the holes in all of her older brothers work clothes. The last brother was Charles but everyone called him Peanut. She never married and she outlived them all. She sat on Saturday evenings in an old rocker who’s cushion was pieced together with collected remnants of cloth and she watched (religiously) the re-runs of the Lawrence Welk Show. She had also outlived her teeth, but her smile was the best most honest grin of anyone I knew. Her favorite foods were 35 cent ice cream sandwiches, fresh strawberries, and cream of wheat. She was kind, undemanding, and enjoyed life. She carried a huge old fashion pocketbook that was filled with essential things, like safety pins, and matches, and small notebooks for recording important information. She tucked a small wad of Kleenex up her sleeve just like my grandmother did. She remembered the dates of birthdays and deaths and weddings but never learned to drive, didn’t own a microwave, had never traveled out of the state of Maine, and didn’t own a cell phone. She wore two headscarves, one on top of the other…I don’t know why. When I sort through her little sewing basket, carefully and tenderly examining each little trinket, each little needle case, each little prize, I smile and feel glad and sad and privileged. Perhaps the thread will be used to make baby Violet a new pair of leggings. The fabric pieces will patch a pair of holey jeans. I’ll sharpen the scissors and line up her collection of thimbles on the sewing table. Maybe I’ll sit quietly in the evening, hand sewing and eat ice cream sandwiches.

As The Weather Turns…

The heat seems to have subsided. I think we are all thankful. I know the gardens are thankful. I am not convinced that New Englanders, particularly northern New Englanders, are built for hot and humid weather. After a winter of 20 below and a snow that lasts until mid-April, we are often heard making reference to the ‘hot and hazy days of summer’. We make these comments as if we can’t wait for the near 100 degree days, as if we’ll all lie bare and prostrate into the beating sun and love it. This isn’t quite the reality or our response to the baking sun. Once those brutally hot days appear, once the thermometer readings travel into the nineties, we start moaning. We whine and then comment on places like Texas and Arizona, “how do they stand it”, we say. It scares us. It is way out of our comfort. We complain. Most people in Maine don’t have air conditioning. Most will still roll their windows down while driving to capture a breeze before they would ever consider turning on the AC. I’m not sure if our Subaru even has air conditioning. I know the old 1-ton dump truck we drive doesn’t, it has windows you actually have to roll up or down. Very old fashion.
Since the humidity has passed, Maine people are smiling more now. We have resumed the spring in our step. We’re back to our old selves.
So, yes, the days are shortening and the temperatures are cooling. The weather is tolerable. We still may get some Indian summer days when the temps rise, but they probably won’t be so oppressive. We’ll welcome the continuation of sunshine and gentle warmth. The worst of the heat is probably over so we’ll stop being babies and get back to facing our days without complaint. Afterall, we still have tomatoes to ripen and the eggplants wait for the deep heat to grow plump and turn that amazing hue of purple. The winter squash is relying on a long growing season to mature before harvest. The second cut of hay still needs cutting and days of good drying. And, we don’t have all of our firewood split and stacked into the woodshed yet. Yesterday, after collecting seed and working on propagation in the greenhouse, we did manage to haul some firewood as well. Cooler days will soon turn to colder days!
Certainly, everyone is familiar with the quote from Mark Twain, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”
Luckily, this ‘wait a few minutes’ for the scorching heat to pass us by has come and we are feeling relief here in the northeast. Thank goodness!!

Lakes And Ponds And Little Swimmers

We have two adoptive grandchildren here visiting for a month. They are 6 and 7 and live in Jacksonville, North Carolina, a place undoubtedly hot and way more congested than our little town here in Maine boasting a mere 1000 residents. What a joy to have these two little spirits around! They are lovely and chatty and interested in all the goings on here at the farm and nursery. What a gift to be able to leave the pavement and noise and busyness of their neighborhood back home to enjoy the quiet woods, the lush gardens, and the lakes and ponds. Oh, the lakes and ponds! Not quite accomplished swimmers when they came, but, oh, so wanting to be little fish confident and frolicking in the cool waters of Maine! Both had never swum in a natural body of water (can you imagine?), so Rick and I have made it our business to take them swimming as often as possible. Of course, the weather has been quite conducive to swimming! They have both gone from carefully wading into the water up to their skinny little knees to launching off of Rick’s back to perform the ‘all kid’s abandoned delight” of cannonballs. Again, and again, and again. How proud they both are! They emerge from the shallows,”We can swim underwater”! Hooray!
We are so very, very lucky to have such water abundance here in Maine. A true blessing. A resource we must honor and protect. Where would one be if we didn’t have a natural pool of water to cannonball into?
Kate Barnes wrote a fun poem about (a few) of the lakes and ponds here in Maine, I’ll share it with you now…

Lakes And Ponds: Some Blue Spots On The Maine Highway Map

There’s Blunder Pond and Bluffer Pond,
Molasses Pond and Bean;
There’s Scraggly Lake and Ragged Lake; there’s Silver,
Clear, and Green;
Bear Pond, Caribou, Beaver, Mink; Moose Pond and
Eagle Lake,
White Horse Lake and Spider Lake, Panther Pond, and Snake;
Hound and Otter, Togue and Salmon, Loon, and
Swan, and Duck.
There’s Hot Brook Lake and Cold Stream Pond;
There’s White Pond and there’s Black;
Lobster Lake and Bean Pot Lake; Shin Pond for a stew;
( Toddy Pond will make you cheerful, Brandy Pond will too,)
Hay Lake, Harrow Lake, Chain Of Ponds; Buttermilk and Mud;
White Oak, Cedar, Seven Tree, Elm, Mill Pond,
Meadow, Flood;
Meddybemps and Pocomoonshine; Simsquish, Skitacook,
Syslododsis, Nahinakanta, UghLake and Ticook;
Indian Pond and Soldier Pond, Polly Pond and Jim;
Round Pond, Square Lake, Corner Pond;
Cut Lake and Old Stream;
Endless Lake and Desolation, St. Froid in the snow;
Flying Pond and The Enchanted, it’s haunted stream below;
Blue spots on the road map with their blue names printed by,
Many words for “water,” many eyes that see the sky.

Poem by Kate Barnes

There was Spinning And There Was Knitting

A week ago we had an open studio day where many showed up to practice their craft. What fun! It had rained the night before, a long generous rain which we desperately needed, but it cleared by mid-day to allow for the studio deck be a place for spinning, knitting, and drawing. I think there were at least 8 spinning wheels whirring, several knitters clicking away, and a new friend ( Hello, Boots!) working on her postcard-a-day drawings. Of course, there were snacks to keep us all well fed and hydrated!
It is often so hard for me to take a moment away from the gardens and the nursery to sit and spin wool or knit during the summer season. The studio takes a back burner during these precious growing months. Having an event like this allows for those wonderful opportunities to visit with friends and makers, share ideas and projects, and to be inspired by all the fabulous and creative talent that surrounds us here in Maine. I did not know that the little town of Jackson has a healthy band of spinners who are willing to pack up their wheels, their fiber and needles, to make their way over to Montville for an afternoon of spinning and knitting. Such a fun bunch! Two blogging friends came from miles away…loved spending time with you both, Sarah and Brenda!
So, now I know that I need to schedule another day of ‘spinning and making’! I’m thinking August. A day when the summer begs to sit on the porch with friends and share in the spirit of making.

An Afternoon Of Spinning And Making!

I am inviting any and all to join me here at Fernwood on Sunday, June 24th from 1:00 to 4:00 for a day of spinning and making. If you have a spinning wheel and want to try out some lovely Bluefaced Leicester roving, come along! ( I’ll provide the wool!) If you are a knitter, a spoon carver, a crocheter, a rug hooker, a felter, a stilt maker, bring along your craft and join us! Pack up your needles and thread, your embroidery floss, and some choice fabric and come sit out on the studio deck for an afternoon of making and sharing. I’ll provide the crackers and cheese and goodies!
I don’t want these lovely summer days to slip by without finding a moment or two to sit among the gardens and make things with friends…so come along! Sound fun? I’ll even have an extra spinning wheel avaiable if you’d like to try your hand at learning to spin. Why not?
Between now and June 24th, give a call (207)589-4726 or email fernwoodnursery@fairpoint.net if you would like to join us. Rain or shine, we’ll set up outside or inside the studio. See you then!