Ever the optimist I just planted my canna lily bulbs for this summer. Looking out the window I can see layers of ice pellets that have fallen for the last two days. I tried to shovel the front step and it was like lifting chunks of cement with my shovel. Now there is a heavy downpour making the ice slick but the temperature is rising and hopefully combined with the rain, the ice will soon be gone. My gardens are sealed in the ice cover so as you may have already guessed I planted the bulbs in buckets of dirt in my basement. With any luck they will be well on their way to maturity when the weather decides to match the calendar.

I have visions of these canna standing high above a copper boiler; rescued from a flea market years ago, surrounded by white million dollar bells draped over the side of the boiler.

Last week we purchased a lovely outdoor sectional to spend the summer reading and resting, during the all too short summer months we are allotted. We left the cushions covered with the plastic to protect them from the forecast weather. Yesterday I had to go out and retrieve one of the cushions from the other side of the deck. Oh yes, freezing rain, ice pellets and plain old rain were not enough; wind had to show up too with this weather mix. To not be left out, the weather network is showing snow to arrive in the wee hours of the morning. Mother Nature has a wonderful sense of humour.

Saturday I attended a fitness conference in Kingston and the MC noted that only Canadians would show up during this spring-winter storm. Some of the attendees travelled from Peterborough, Ottawa and Montreal. Kudos to true Canadians who are not intimidated by Mother Nature.

I am itching to get outside for a walk but will content myself; as I did yesterday; to stay dry and safe inside. This is a day to enjoy the extra cup of coffee and binge watch television. There is a batch of soup in the freezer to round out a comfort day. Don’t fret, I am sure that spring will arrive…sometime.


The Sweet Spot

At the end of a hot summer day there is a time I call ‘the sweet spot’. It is short and should not be missed. Recently I had the pleasure of experiencing it with a friend in a small, hospital garden. This inspired me to write the following poem. Now, for those of you who know the rules for writing poetry, you will say, “she broke all the rules”. I don’t care. I am simply putting words to my experience.

At the end of a hot summer day there is a sweet spot

The air becomes soft and gentle

The breeze caresses your face

Despite this breeze the garden is still

A raised garden sports food for future dishes

Tangy dill, pungent cilantro, tiny green tomatoes

Perhaps a salsa in the making

Puffy, white hydrangea gleam in the shade

Tiny, red roses climb with abandon, yellow day lilies in constant bloom

All ignoring the tall weeds that crowd into the garden

Wasps flit under the wooden table to build a nest

A sidewalk winds its way around the small space

Quiet relaxation to soothe the soul

Dampness creeps in to chase the sweet spot away

Scant minutes and it is gone

The sweet spot is not a time to pull weeds, or take on other gardening duties. It is a time to savour a glass of wine, a cup of tea or coffee and best of all to spend time with a friend and engage in quiet conversation. Don’t miss ‘the sweet spot of summer’.

A Tale of Many Peter Rabbits

There must have been some very frisky bunnies around the neighbourhood as we are now overrun with baby bunnies, teenage bunnies and big, fat adult bunnies. They are fat due to chowing down on the neighbourhood gardens. Apparently they like daisies, tulips, Echinacea, heuchera, Rudbeckia and coleus to mention a few of the plants nibbled on in my garden. My neighbours are all experiencing loss of plants to the little rascals. One aggressive adult rabbit pulled down on a branch of a lilac and broke it off.

Having so many rabbits in the yard triggered several memories; one in particular, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter. I went searching the book shelves and sure enough I still have a copy of the story, so I settled down to read the story once again. It is a short read as it is designed for young minds. Potter originally created Peter to cheer up a sick child. She wrote him a story letter with accompanying illustrations. Peter first appeared in 1902 in “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”. He was a mischievous little bunny who disobeyed his mother’s warnings and entered the garden of Mr. McGregor. When I read of Mr. McGregor chasing Peter I chuckled as it reminded me of the days when my two oldest grandsons would chase the rabbits out of my garden, with the promise that they could keep any rabbits they captured. Needless to say no rabbits were injured or caught. A few years later one of my granddaughters asked if they caught two could they keep both, of course.

Fast forward to a new neighbourhood and I looked out the window to see the grandson of a neighbour chasing a rabbit across our lawn. I guess chasing rabbits never gets old. He too was unable to capture a rabbit.

Desperate to deter all these “Peter Rabbits” from destroying our gardens I tried yelling at them, chasing them myself with a broom and even telling them that I know how to cook rabbit and they are quite tasty. They ignored it all. After more research on how to stop these gregarious, plant-eating mammals from raiding the garden I found a safe, friendly method. I planted marigolds among my other plants. Apparently the smell of this flower is repugnant to rabbits. What a great solution; safe and cheap and as a bonus the bright colours look cheery in the garden. My plants have been stunted and may not achieve their true potential this summer but will live to bloom another day.

The Evolution of the Long Week-end

Now retired I see long week-ends through different eyes. No longer do I anticipate the beginning of three glorious days off. Each long week-end was to be enjoyed as a time to turn off the alarm clock, relax with perhaps a special event or planned trip. Not once did I think ahead to Tuesday morning and facing a four-day week that would hold five days of work to complete. At the end of the four-day week I was exhausted; and ready for the two-day week-end. How ironic.

As a youngster growing up on a farm long week-ends were marked by tasks. The May long week-end found us in the garden. Any farmer will tell you that it is unwise to plant before the May long week-end to avoid frost destroying your garden. Dad would use the tiller to create rows for the potatoes to be dropped. We followed him, always being careful to not plant the cuttings too close and have overcrowd plants grow or to space too far apart and waste valuable garden space.

This would not be the last time we would see these potatoes. Hoeing, weeding and checking for pests was a constant for the summer. When the Thanksgiving long week-end arrived we would be out in the garden once again following Dad as he used the digger to unearth the new potatoes. We would pick the potatoes in pails and load up a wagon. Next the pails would be emptied onto a slatted ramp placed in a basement window. The potatoes would dance along the ramp, shedding dirt through the slats and into the large basement bin. Over the winter this Irish family would enjoy potatoes cooked several different ways.

Post retirement a long week-end can arrive without my noticing. I am surprised when I find banks, post offices and certain stores closed.

The point was driven home on this past Monday when talking with my son. I asked him if he was home from work early. His response, “Mom, it’s a stat holiday, you retired people”.

Long week-ends have evolved from a time for hard, dirty work in the garden to time off from the work place and now to a non-event in retirement.

I love it.