I stepped into my slippers and padded outdoors to pick the fresh peach that was near perfection. Waiting for me was something much more magical than anything I'd expected, but then, that is what a garden gives IF you take the time to look.
I sat on the steps next to this fence lizard, and after a few minutes reached over and ran my fingers down his (or her) back a few times. I've never given a back rub to a lizard before.
Being ill can slow you until you feel like an insect trapped in amber. That is how I felt this past week as I tried to draw, write, and work. I ended up just crawling back into bed. Sleep is such a powerful healer, and I finally caught up on the hours I've missed the past few months.
The great thing about not being able to do much is that you open like a flower to the tiny changes and life surrounding you.
Whenever I could pull myself out of my cocoon, I would wander the garden for a few minutes with my camera in hand. The most exciting shot was of the dragonfly who remained there in a perfect pose, perched on the ripest peach in my tree. I felt so lucky to catch the shot.
One morning after spending a long night coughing, I could barely make it down the steps, but when I walked out to my herb courtyard, a Monarch was sipping at a verbena. Look closely and you can see the long proboscis probing the bloom.
Below the Monarch, a flighty skipper danced through the flowers. See the clubbed antennae? This is a great way to identify skippers, but once you know them, you know them; the way they hold their wings, their shape, and their flight patterns are simply skipper.
This ragged Mourning Cloak butterfly is an inspiration to me. She has been in my garden for months. She over-wintered somewhere in the tree bark or behind a planter. She is tattered and torn, but she continues to be a butterfly, albeit WALKING from low flower to low flower. Mourning Cloaks (named for their dark wings, which looked like mourning clothes) abounded in my Grandmother Lovejoy's garden. I would catch them, and they would crawl out of my hand and sip at the salt and minerals on my arms.
You're looking at what was once a blank canvas. Now hollyhocks jostle with grapes, the apricot stretches its arms, figs nestle against the back wall, and the guava hedge is the center of activity for the mockingbirds who love the flower petals.
We are not able to leave for Maine until later in the summer. We live here; the cove is Little Harbor, our cottage sits on the edge of a huge ledge. My heart is here, but my job and responsibilities keep me in California for awhile. Sigh.
I must finish my book and go on a whirlwind book tour in Austin, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Wichita from July 25-30. Although I am so sad to be arriving in Maine later than usual, I'll be able to attend my sweet granddaughter Sara's birthday earlier in July and also harvest and eat some of the many tree fruits and berries we planted in the past four years. Grapes started from single twigs are now taller than the eight foot arbor and bearing heavily. Figs are bending under the weight of ripening fruits, apples are loaded and just did another flush of bloom so I am hoping for lots of apples. Apricots, nectarines, peaches...ahh, the cobblers I'll make.
Sweet little Pink Ladies bloomed again last week.
I spent lots of time in the apricot trees in my Grandmother's garden. I loved these so much that my best pal Ricky and I ate them green and hard as golf balls, and NO, we never got stomach aches. Isn't that the most glorious color?
And speaking of glorious color and shape and taste, this fresh chard looks like a tree! We're having friends over tomorrow night, and I am going to bake wild Alaskan salmon on a bed of chard. Oh, I don't like cutting this up so I think I'll save some of it and...
...make a kitchen bouquet
I think that the chard is as beautiful as the sweet peas I picked today; they just don't smell quite as good. The artichokes are for tomorrow night's dinner. I trimmed their tips, cut them in half, and added chopped fresh garlic, squeezed fresh picked lime inside them, and drizzled them with Tiber Canyon lemon olive oil topped with sea salt. I covered them with a wet paper towel, squeezed lime on the towel, and microwaved them for ten minutes (which was tooooooo long) try this for a shorter time and test doneness by gently tugging off a leaf. Next batch was 7 minutes...much better. My friend Susie Bassetti does these this way and at the end she tosses them onto a grill....yum. Removed them from the microwave, scooped out the "choke" bristles, squeezed more lime inside them, filled the hollow halves with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and slipped them into a 400 degree oven for a few minutes. Tomorrow night, just before we sit down to dinner, I will slip them under the broiler for a minute. Yummy.
Today was my first day of feeling like myself. Is that good? I'm not sure, but I've got energy again and I am thrilled with the ever changing, bountiful garden so filled with life. Oh yes, and I must go out and visit the Mourning Cloak butterfly again. She humbles me.
All joys to you. Now back to work!
P.S. Please be sure to leave a comment on this blog posting to be entered in the fabulous house number give-away provided by the Danish company Ramsign. The numbers are hand-crafted of porcelain enamel. They'll outlast me. These are going to be shipped to you at no charge-no matter where you live. Your comments must be posted by Saturday, June 18th, and the drawing will be on Sunday.
P.P. S. Thanks for all your wonderful e-mails and letters. Four of you mentioned Teri's request to see my work space in Mockingbird Studio. Uh, let me tidy it up a bit and next week I will share it with you. Right now there are over a hundred bird paintings strewn across every flat surface. Until next week!