Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Solstice

Happy Solstice! Its great to have so much light around isn't it? Wake up early and stay up late, at least that seems to be whats been happening around our house. Seems like we are constantly eating dinner at 8:30 or 9 at night, just can't seem to stop and come inside before then.

Ah well. We celebrated today by getting up early and heading out to Jordan Lake for some time in the kayaks, I knew it had been way too long since we had paddled when I had to dust off the boat before I could get in.

It was lovely as always, we saw red-headed woodpeckers, prothonotary warblers, eastern kingbirds, bald eagles, osprey, a yellow-billed cuckoo and cliff swallows under the bridge- though not nearly as many as there were last year. As always dozens of great blue herons fished along the shores and croaked and honked as we scared them up into the air, flapping their wide gray wings to fly off to the next cove.

We saw tracks in the sand on the shore when we stopped to stretch our legs that David was sure were bear, but checking the book when I got home I think they were a big dog or maybe a coyote. We got excited about them anyway. Button Bush; cephalanthus occidentalis, was blooming all along the shore line. It is a small shrub with flowers that are the size of a golf ball, perfectly round and covered with white spiky flowers sticking out. The wildflower books' crazy description is "globose inflorescence...made up of many small flowers with exserted anthers" you can see a picture if you click above, I think they are really cool.

The lake was pretty skanky up towards the Morgan Creek arm as it often is, as soon as we pass back under the bridge it seems to clear up a bit, I guess the Fearrington Road bridge forms a bottle neck through which the waters are slow to pass. After all the horror stories I've heard about the water quality at Jordan Lake I've gotten to where I 'm afraid to go swimming which is too bad- it would have felt petty good about the time we got back to the boat ramp to jump in there, but we didn't.

What a marvelous break we've had from the terrible heat these past few days with cool nights in the 50's and low, low humidity. Summer's coming back now though and I feel that we might have to turn the AC back on. My latest Chapel Hill News column June Comes Blazing In is all about the bad heat we had early in the month and heading to the creek for comfort.

Last week we were in Kentucky up in the coal mining section of the mountains between Harlan and Hazard in a little town called Hindman at the forks of Troublesome Creek. We spent 6 days at the Hindman Settlement Schools'-Appalachian Family Folk Week; singing, dancing and playing traditional Appalachian music with old acquaintances and family and new friends too. It's an action packed week that fills me up with spirit in a way that I can't explain or describe, but the way I feel when I'm there is the closest thing to a religious experience I've probably ever had. It doesn't hurt that my brother Jon and his wife Candy, who are very near and dear to me, are there as well and we get to spend lots of quality time together at meals, walking the steep hillsides that surround the school, on the dance floor and at the after party that happens nightly at the wood shop.

Getting back home was made easier by the break in the hot weather. The garden is perking along despite the hot and dry, been watering the veggies and fruits regularly, the flowers just have to manage. If I'm thinking about it I capture gray water as I'm working in the kitchen and carry that around to things that look particularly parched. There is rain in the forecast for tomorrow so we've got our fingers crossed. I hope we aren't heading for another hot dry summer like what we had last year, it's too depressing to consider.

I've started picking squash and expect cukes and beans in another week or so, chard continues unfazed, dug a few taters the other day but they still need more time I think. The onions are filling out nicely and starting to fall over so we'll be harvesting them soon and I pulled about 50 heads of garlic and have those drying in the shed. I guess I'll braid them and the onions and hang them in the kitchen and hope they keep.

I've still got a ton of leeks in the fridge but planning a leek and carrot soup for this weekend to use a bunch of them up as they are not looking as good as they were three weeks ago when I harvested them! It will be a good thing to cook as I pulled 5 pounds of carrots the other day because they were starting to split under ground from being in too long, so everything needs to be cooked up into something yummy- as usual.

It's a good problem to have-too many veggies-as everyone is complaining about the price of gas and food as a result, I'm glad I planted a big garden this year and we are enjoying the fruits.

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