Saturday, August 27, 2022

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 83: Passiflora lutea, or eastern yellow passionflower

 I’ve been seeing these around the farm for years and only last year realized they are a native plant, and actually a passionflower. They die back each winter so it’s perfectly fine to let them climb onto other plants. This year I have let them go, and this is the lovely result! This one is climbing along a branch of the button bush. 

Here’s more info from NC State’s plant database:


Eastern yellow passion flower is a native herbaceous vine in the Passifloraceae family.  The hardiest of the passion flower vine, it maintains its foilage in mild winters through zone 8b.  Fing it statewide in woodlands, forests, thickets, and maritime forests.  Tendrils along the stem allow the vine to climb to 20 feet in height without damaging any trellises or structures.

Plant this vine in fertile, moist, well-drained soils in full sun to partial shade.  To encourage robust root growth and ensure its return the following spring plants should be added to the ground as early in the growing season as possible.  

The bright green leaves are wider than they are long and softly lobed in three parts. The flowers are small, about 1 inch or less across, pale greenish-yellow to off-white, blooming in late summer to fall. The flowers are followed by small black berries that that are eaten by birds and mammals.

This vine is an important wildlife plant, attracting bees, butterflies, birds, and mammals while being resistant to damage by deer. It is happy in a container, will grow on a trellis or fence or sprawl on the ground, and is at home in a butterfly or pollinator garden.  In cold areas, containers may need to be brought indoors over the winter.  This plant is much better behaved in the garden than P. incarnata.

Louise Erdrich’s Advice To Myself

 Leave the dishes.

Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in through the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

“Advice to Myself” by Louise Erdrich from Original Fire. © Harper Collins Publishers, 2003.

I’m drawn to this today, and letting its message sift in to my consciousness as I woke up thinking of how many things there are To Be Done and how I might Get Them Done.  

The poem came to my attention in a newsletter I signed up for this week, by the author Sharon Blackie, who my old friend Kathleen put onto my radar and whose book she recommended, If Women Rose Rooted, is now on my side table book stack. Thank you, Kathleen! I am certain this author is going to enrich my life and what a treat to have her work waiting for me as we move from summer to fall and on into winter. The very best time for this kind of deep work. 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Good Thoughts For Clementine

Update: Clem sailed through her surgery and came home yesterday afternoon. She had a restful night and I woke up to her nose touching my face and her tail wagging, as I always do. She has some healing to do but this is her enjoying her morning today:

 Our sweetheart golden retriever Clementine is having surgery today to remove the local lymph node to the previous mast cell tumor she had. We are hoping this is it for surgery for her, and that with diet, supplementation, homeopathic protocol, and any recommended treatment by her oncology team once they get the pathology report on this lymph node, she will have many more happy and healthy years with us.

Clem is a brilliant and loving dog. After living with Corgis for so many years, it’s been fascinating to learn the behaviors of a whole different breed. Retrievers are so much different than herding dogs! Clem comes from many generations of service dogs and along with her retriever characteristics, she is totally tuned in to her people. More so than any dog I’ve ever known, Clem does something I call soul gazing, where she comes and stands so she can gaze deeply into my eyes. It feels like she is sending healing eyebeams of love into my total being.

Send some good thoughts her way today for a successful surgery. 

Here’s a recent video of her harvesting a fig. She is almost too good at harvesting things and after 20-some years with Corgis we have had to curtail our habits of leaving various and sundry things on counter tops and kitchen island!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Happy to report…

 That my flash nonfiction piece titled To The Grassy Bald We Named Sweet Bay has been accepted for publication by The Hopper literary journal. I’ll share a link when it’s live. 


Sunday, August 21, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 163

 Wonderful writing weekend here that started on Thursday evening with my virtual writing workshop (this one started in March 2020 in response to the pandemic and has continued in six-week sessions ever since) and moving on to the monthly virtual writing weekends I have with two old and dear writer friends. We have gone on writing retreats several times a year together for many years, so when Covid hit, we started the monthly weekends via Zoom to keep our work and our friendship growing. It’s always a huge boost to my work to write with these two women, and this one has been no exception. 

I’ve been coughing a lot the past few days, still testing negative for Covid, and assuming at this point that this is a regular cold, probably exacerbated by allergies. I’m scheduled for allergy testing this week and if I end up with positive results, will try an immunotherapy treatment that is customized to my allergens. I’m  ready to be done with whatever this is!

I’m getting little parts of things done - mucking the larger areas to spread along the front where I’m creating a new and very long bed for planting more natives, keeping the barn tidy - but procrastinating on some of the bigger parts - deep cleaning the feed/tack room in the barn, weed-eating several areas, bigger housekeeping chores. I am trying to keep to my summer plan to do a couple of outside things and a couple of inside things in a day. And it’s okay if the things are little. But my to do list brain keeps chugging along. 

Keil Bay had chiro last weekend and his chiro vet says she really thinks he can go 8 weeks between adjustments instead of 4. We’re splitting the difference and making it 6. I’m happy he’s staying so clear between adjustments. But he loves getting them! So we’ll see how he does with the increased interval and I’ll call her if he needs her sooner.

Clem has her lymph node surgery this Thursday and we’re hoping for the very best outcome. If we’re lucky this will be the end of mast cell tumors for her. But either way, she’s happy and loving her life right now and that’s the most important thing. She is very busy harvesting figs for herself from our loaded fig tree in the back yard. It is pretty hilarious!

This week every time I’ve been outside I see goldfinches flying about, which is such a delight, and the spotted horse mint is beginning to bloom. I haven’t been taking my phone out with me as much and so have zero photos to share, but will hope to remedy that this coming week. 

This morning we had a thunderstorm to wake us up. The horses and pony and donkeys were waiting to come in, and we have had a very nice rainfall to water everything on the farm. We weren’t exactly dry, but have had a break from the more frequent waterings, so this was needed and means I do not need to water the hollies this week. 

A couple of weeks ago I went with my children and my grandson to the museum of life and science in the neighboring town we lived in when my son was born. We had a membership that allowed free visits for the year and there were times we went with him every day because he loved it so much, and if we ended our visit with the meandering train ride they have, he would fall asleep and nap until we got home. It was such a pleasure to be there with my grandson, his dad and mom, and my daughter all together. Such a layering of memory and the present to be walking up the path from the indoor part of the museum to the outdoor exhibits and turn to see my son, now taller than me, carrying his own son. There is such pleasure in these reflections and while it’s hard to describe the way they feel in words, the best I can manage is to say it’s visceral memory - the sensation of back then blended with now, in my body’s muscle memory. I persist in calling this time travel because for me that’s exactly what it feels like. 

From the window I’m seeing goldfinches darting across the front pasture from one tree to another, and then darting down like a bright yellow missile from high in the dogwood tree by the front porch down to the coneflowers in the garden beds. The sun is trying to come out and they’re back to their busy days out there. Time for me to do the same.