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Archive for the ‘fields and woods’ Category

Winter is reluctant to give up her icy crown…

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Hauntingly Beaytiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween www.paulawalton.com

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Today was one of those perfect days that should be layered in tissue paper, packed carefully away and saved, to be unwrapped and savored again and again…

small delights... gathered and gleaned during a morning walk... an enchanting glass bottle from the midden heap, a handful of violets, a hawk's feather, a single mushroom and a sprig of lily of the valley

small delights… gathered and gleaned during a morning walk… an enchanting glass bottle from the midden heap filled with lily of the valley, a handful of violets, a hawk’s feather, a single mushroom

the pleasure of wearing crisp layers of antique white clothing on a warm spring morning...

the pleasure of wearing crisp layers of antique white clothing on a warm spring morning…

Searching for wild violets among the blades of grass.

Searching for wild violets among the blades of grass.

Listening to water rush and tumble over rocks and pebbles in the brook that runs behind our barns.

Listening to water rush and tumble over rocks and pebbles in the tiny brook that runs behind our barns.

Picking the first asparagus of the season from my garden.

Picking the first asparagus of the season from my garden.

Filling the house with tiny bouquets.

Filling the house with tiny bouquets.

violets www.paulawalton.com

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I woke up to find snow covering the pansies I planted on Sunday.

I woke up to find snow covering the pansies I planted on Sunday.

Remember my post from yesterday?  Something along the lines of “spring is here to stay”…  Well just about the time I finished posting it last night, the rain that had been falling all day turned to snow!  So we went from 65 degrees in the morning to snow at night!!!  Apparently the Snow Queen marshelled  her forces for one last sally before her long retreat.

Warm weather over the weekend encouraged my rhubarb to emerge from it's winters nap, which turned out to be a very rude awakening!

Warm weather over the weekend encouraged my rhubarb to emerge from it’s winters nap, which turned out to be a very rude awakening!

www.paulawalton.com

The snow came along with blustery winds, which caused us to loose power several times today.  Fortunately electricity is somewhat optional around our house.  I was snug and warm in the studio, with a cheery fire blazing in my wood stove, while I caught up on some of my hand sewing.

The first of my daffodils opened yesterday, just a few hours before the snow started coming down.

The first of my daffodils opened yesterday, just a few hours before the snow started coming down.

www.paulawalton.com

By early evening most of the snow had melted.  We are in for one or two more cold nights, then the weather is supposed to improve.  Hopefully all of my plants will hang on.

By early evening most of the snow had melted. We are in for one or two more cold nights, then the weather is supposed to improve. Hopefully all of my plants will hang on.

 

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Tobacco barn in the mist www.paulawalton.com

During the past few weeks I have been walking straight into a fairy tale each morning, as I make the short journey between my kitchen and studio doors.  The weather has been changing the story, from a tale about a misty elven forest to one about the ice queen’s glittering domain, but one thing remains the same… they have all been mornings when anything can happen, because there is magic in the air!

www.paulawalton.com

www.paulawalton.com

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www.paulawalton.com

                                  The End…

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One of my favorite fall scents is the clean, somewhat citrus scent of the Osage Orange.   I’m also quite fond of their appearance and whenever I have any available, I place them around my home in large bowls and cluster them in groups with pumpkins and gourds.

I’m forced to import the large, eerie green globes from Nebraska, on fall trips to the Midwest to visit my family.  On one memorable occasion, my sister and I climbed on top of the roof of a minivan and tried jumping high enough to pick the fruits from a mature tree.  It was not an entirely successful maneuver, as the tree was  huge and we were taking turns juggling her infant son at the same time.

The following are some of the things I’ve learned in my 20 year quest to bring Osage Oranges to Connecticut.

1. It is much easier to pick the fruits up off the ground than it is to pick them off of the tree. 🙂

2. Even if you spend enough to mail them by Priority Mail, Osage Oranges will grow moldy when shut up in a box and shipped from the Midwest to the East Coast.

3. Osage Oranges are very dense and heavy.  An important fact to remember when stuffing as many as possible into your carry on luggage!

4. When you order Osage Orange trees from a nursery, the only ones you can buy are the size of a #2 pencil.

5. Osage Orange trees also have thorns!!!

6. Be really, really careful when zipping past an Osage Orange tree while riding on a lawn tractor!!!  (reread point #5)

7.  When waiting for your Osage Oranges to be really ripe, prior to harvesting the seeds, beware of fruit flies.

8.  Tossing ripe Osage Oranges onto the ground in likely looking locations and waiting for nature to take it’s course, does not result in an Osage forest…

Originally Osage Orange trees were found in the Red River valley in southern Oklahoma and northern Texas, also the home of the Osage tribe (and the source of one of the many common names for this tree).  Coincidentally this is also the area where my family lived for several generations.

Before the invention of barbed wire, many thousands of miles of hedges were created  in the plains states, by planting young Osage trees closely together.  After barbed wire made hedge fences outmoded, the wood from the Osage trees was used for fence posts.  The wood will last for decades in the ground without rotting or suffering from insect damage. Bow makers have long prized the wood for crafting superior weapons.  Osage trees also make effective windbreaks.  And last, but not least, my personal favorite is that the sawdust from these trees can be used to dye fabrics!

Part of a row of Osage trees.

I currently have a rather long row of Osage trees planted parallel to one of my property lines.    Some of the trees have been  in the ground for about fifteen years, and the rest are a bit younger (due to several re-plantings to replace trees that died during the winters or wound up being deer snacks).  I’ve read that the only trees you can purchase, are the thorned variety.  I’ve also read that Osage trees come in male and female and that both have thorns, while only the females bear fruit.  Apparently it is impossible to tell the sex of the trees until they reach the fruiting age of ten.

THORNS!

So far all I’ve got are thorns.  In fact I have enough thorns to ring Sleeping Beauty’s castle with an impenetrable hedge of thorns!

The inside of an Osage Orange, look closely to see the seeds.

This year, I’ve decided to try growing some Osage trees from seed to add to my thorn garden.  I’ve harvested the seeds and planted them in pots, now we’ll just have to wait and see.  I’ve also got a back up stash of seeds, just in case worse comes to worse.

Osage seeds.

I know you’ll be happy to hear that Osage Oranges aren’t my only tree obsession.  I also have a long running love affair with quince trees, but that is a story for another time…

A bowl of ripe quince.

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Does it bode well or ill if instead of seeing a groundhog on Groundhog’s Day, you see a possum?  Does it change the weather prognostication if you see the possum after dark, so there is no shadow involved? Was the possum just filling in for an over worked groundhog with scheduling problems???

None of our resident family of groundhogs bothered to stir themselves from their barrow inside of our tobacco barn, but the littlest of the possum brood that also makes its home in our barns, did wander out tonight through all of the mountains of snow for a cat food dinner.   We religiously keep food and water outside our back door for the feral cats that roam our property.

I suppose that it would be too much to hope that our groundhogs have all decided to relocate to Florida!  In case you can’t tell, I am not a groundhog fan, even when they are going by their woodchuck alias.  During gardening season I hate the woodchuck/groundhogs more than deer and that’s saying something.

Should anyone need them, I do have a small collection of woodchuck recipes that I would be happy to share. 🙂

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