Counting On Nature

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in tune once more.” ~ John Burroughs

It had been a day of constantly wiping a runny nose, rocking and comforting my 15 month grand daughter who was feeling miserable and irritable from her first cold. I bundled her up in a warm blanket and we stepped out the front door and onto the porch. “Let’s go see what’s happening outside.”

The rain from earlier in the day had let up, clouds were still heavy and low. A hint of woodsmoke filled the air and mixed with the fresh chill that November air brings. Quails were calling to each other in the brush beyond the creek bed. A squirrel scampered up an oak, chirping as he moved jerkily. Baby girl calmed and quieted, looked around. I wiped away her tears. Bright red Toyon berries hung low and glistened from the recent soaking. Autumn leaves that were still clinging on trees and shrubs danced in the gentle breeze, as a new brilliant layer of leaves carpeted the ground. Off the porch I stepped with this sweet one cradled in my arms. “Let’s go for a walk around the yard, love.”

We moved slowly just taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the late afternoon. Listening, looking, soaking up all the gifts that this November day offered. Mother Nature enveloping us and working her peace and magic.

It was no more than ten minutes that we were outdoors but our spirits were  lifted and our moods were refreshed, just as I knew they would be. Soothed and healed once again, all courtesy of nature.

 

Celebrating Fall

“Autumn, the year’s last loveliest smile.” ~William Cullen Bryantimg_6534“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all” ~Stanley Horowitzimg_6443“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~Albert Camusimg_1905“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” ~Lauren DeStefano, Witherimg_1902“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.” ~John Donne
img_1811“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.” ~Humbert Wolfe
img_1799“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.”~Joe L. Wheelerimg_1750“And I rose in rainy autumn and walked abroad in a shower of all my days…” ~Dylan Thomasimg_1731“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” ~Anonymousimg_1727“I am rich today with autumn’s gold.” ~Gladys Harpimg_1657“I loved autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.” ~Lee Maynardimg_1718“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.” ~Samuel Butlerimg_1721“Or maybe spring is the season of love and fall the season of mad lust. Spring for flirting but fall for the untamed delicious wild thing.”~Elizabeth Cohenimg_1796“There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood- Such of manner, hint of mood; And my heart is like a rhyme, With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.” ~Bliss Carmen
img_1803“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” ~Jim Bishopimg_1903Wishes to all for a lovely autumn season.

Sunflower Cottage

“…But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye. For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall, you’ll find the tool and potting sheds which are the heart of all…”~Rudyard Kiplingimg_1827Here it is!img_1472Remember a few weeks ago I promised a post about my new garden shed? Welcome to Sunflower Cottage!

Wanting the paint and the style to match our home, but also wanting a bright pop of color for the door, I really don’t think it could have turned out any more perfectly.

Last fall I began looking in books, magazines and on pinterest for ideas for potting sheds. It was a bit overwhelming, but when our friend who built the structure for us started asking questions about how it would be used and what was most important to me, why then it all came together easily. Inside is a roomy potting bench, lots of shelving, and a pole to hang baskets and dry herbs from, and with the light from the two windows (three counting the window in the door) and a water source right outside the shed, I didn’t feel a need to have electricity or plumbing installed.

Here’s a bit of a peek inside.img_1526 img_1410I’m still organizing and finding the best places for everything, but I’m already so happy to be working in this charming and cozy little storybook cottage, just as I knew I would! A gardener’s dream come true, for certain!

Porch Sweet Porch

“I return to my front porch to find the place where the air smells sweeter and the sun feels warmer than at any other bend in life’s long road.”~John Sarris

Hello good friend! Welcome to the porch. It’s just ahead.IMG_9240Take one step up.IMG_9243Here we are!IMG_9113Come sit with me in the comfiest rocking chairs around. Here’s an iced tea.IMG_9114Let’s catch up on everything and try and make sense of life’s ups and downs. We’ll laugh and maybe cry, smile and listen, share and nod. Just being with you brings me comfort and joy! IMG_9244IMG_9121Amidst our conversations we’ll hear the songs of the birds, the whispers of the leaves, and the whirr of the hummingbirds.

I’m so grateful that in this big wide world we found each other. Aren’t we lucky? Come back soon!

Glorious Hills of Poppies

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wildflowers in our hair. ~Susan Polis Shutz
IMG_8607IMG_8620IMG_8622IMG_8649IMG_8610IMG_8612IMG_8643IMG_8635A week and a half ago we had the pleasure of going on a poppy hike facilitated by the American River Conservancy. The hike was on private property in Coloma which had spectacular views of the American River below us and hills of happy poppies everywhere we looked. Bill and Robin Center were so generous, leading groups of us on their trails, sharing their wisdom, and providing a delicious spread of appetizers and desserts afterwards under the shady oaks. Being surrounded by nature’s beauty in Coloma is something we won’t forget. We are so grateful for the experience!

Nearly Spring!

 

IMG_7773“The year’s at the spring

And day’s at the morn;

Morning’s at seven;

The hillside’s dew-pearled;

The lark’s on the wing;

The snail’s on the thorn;

God’s in His heaven-

All’s right with the world!”

~Robert BrowningIMG_7958“A wizard must have passed this way

Since – was it only yesterday?

Then all was bare, and now behold,

A hundred cups of living gold!”

~Emma C. DowdIMG_7720“A little madness in the spring is wholesome even for the king.”

~Emily DickensonIMG_7933“Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.”

~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

IMG_8116IMG_7971“Spring is nature’s way of saying Let’s Party!”

~ Robin WilliamsIMG_7920Everything is blooming recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. ~Ranier Maria RilkeIMG_8077IMG_8067Wishing you all a week of blooms. Go out and take in all the beauty surrounding you!

 

The Fever

“She turned to the sunlight

And shook her yellow head,

And whispered to her neighbor:

Winter is dead.”

~A.A. Milne, When We Were Very YoungIMG_7776IMG_7848IMG_7980Trips to four different nurseries within a week. Vases filled with Daffodils and Daphne throughout the house. Checking on each and every plant and tree to see how it fared during the winter. Soil under my nails. Yep, I’ve definitely got it. Spring Fever!

It’s only late February but the high temperatures have been hovering in the high 60s and even 70s for a couple weeks now. I’m really hoping March brings much more rain, but right now, well, right now I’m loving all these bursts of color. Right now, it feels like spring is bustin’ out all over!

Here, the Weigelias are just beginning to leaf out. IMG_8083I’m filling pots with colorful Primroses, Pansies and Violas.IMG_7702IMG_7969The air is scented with the heavenly fragrance of winter Daphne. Is there a sweeter smell in February? Not in my book!IMG_7977A row of blooming flowering plum trees heralds our arrival along our driveway.IMG_8081And a hedge of tall Photonia brightens up the yard with shiny new red leaves.IMG_8082Flowering Quince and Forsythia are putting on their shows,IMG_7830IMG_7968while graceful Hellebores nod hello.
IMG_7846Oh, I know it’s still early, but I can’t get enough of these happy harbingers of spring. What’s blooming in your gardens right now in late February?

“Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.” ~Gustav Mahler

Effie Yeaw Nature Center

We recently shared a delightful morning exploring nature trails with our grandchildren at the wonderful Effie Yeaw Nature Center, located along the American River Parkway. Inside the nature shop were many hands-on activities that the children were engrossed in. Push a button and hear the call of a red shouldered hawk. See a display of natural habitats. That sort of thing. Also, living in the nature shop are a number of non-releasable (due to injuries, becoming orphaned, or having grown too accustomed to people) animals.

Resident birds include :

  • a Northern Saw-whet Owl, Sophia (this was a highlight for the children!)
  • a Great Horned Owl, Echo
  • a Red-tailed Hawk, Tanner
  • a Red-shouldered Hawk, Skye, and
  • an American Kestrel, Rocky

In addition to the birds, there are reptiles, and amphibians on display.

Outdoors, well-marked trails meander through 100 acres of this nature preserve.

IMG_7630IMG_7645We had just gotten started walking on a trail when we came upon the deer. They’re obviously used to being photographed and gawked at!IMG_7633I must share that I have a love/hate relationship with these guys. To see them here was such a joy, but that’s not the case when I see them in my gardens at home, or the aftermath of all the damage they have done. I know they’re hungry and need to eat too; I just don’t want to encourage the chomping on my favorite flowers and foliage! Late last summer while shopping at the feed store, I noticed blocks of deer food. Standing there in front of the display, I contemplated buying a few blocks and placing them on some undeveloped acreage in our neighborhood. I didn’t, but I may in the future. I do use some deer deterrent products in our yard, that work well most of the year, but come late summer those pesky deer are eating everything.IMG_7646We followed a trail that led right down to the American River.
IMG_7658IMG_7710This crew must have been the official welcoming committee!IMG_7662IMG_7661IMG_7666There was so much to discover and admire as we walked along the trails, turned over rocks, climbed on some old tree stumps, and listened to birdsong. A great place to explore, learn and appreciate Mother Nature, for people of all ages.
IMG_7676“If you truly love nature you will find beauty everywhere.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Crystal Hermitage Garden

IMG_4085IMG_4146IMG_4134IMG_4127IMG_4135 I’m not one to rush seasons. There’s so much I do love about winter, but spring will be here before we know it, and, if you’re in the area, I don’t want you to miss this display that shouts SPRINGTIME! These photos were taken last April when my husband and I visited this jewel of a garden during their Springtime at Ananda weekends. Ananda Village is a spiritual community and retreat center outside of Nevada City in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California. Within the Ananda Village is Crystal Hermitage Gardens, usually a peaceful sanctuary with paths to meander, graceful trees, stunning views, and terraced gardens. During two consecutive weekends in spring, when the gardens reach their peak of glory, Ananda Village hosts an event called Tulip Days. Last year over 6,000 visitors came to behold all of this beauty, hear music, and have a picnic lunch or tea and scones in Crystal Hermitage Gardens. It’s not a large garden, but every inch is planted with approximately 15,000 Dutch tulip bulbs annually. The weekend dates this year will be April 2-3, and April 9-10. Cost is $5. and children 12 and younger are free.

IMG_4119IMG_4101IMG_4094IMG_4138Last year was when we discovered this special place. It was a highlight of springtime for us, and we plan to make it back each year. Might you be there too?

“A garden is evidence of faith. It links us with all the misty figures of the past who also planted and were nourished by the fruits of their planting.” ~ Gladys Taber

Empire Mine State Park

“Let’s take our hearts for a walk in the woods and listen to the magic whispers of old trees.”  ~Author UnknownIMG_6719If these old trees could talk they’d have many a tale to whisper about. They’d tell stories of life in the mid 1800s, and mining in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Grass Valley during the gold rush and the years following.

Empire Mine is one of the oldest, largest and most prosperous gold mines in North American history. Mining started here in 1850 and continued until 1956. On the grounds are the various mines, machine shop, refinery room, warehouses, offices and blacksmith shop. A distance away from all the mining structures sits the stately English manor cottage that the Bourne family lived in during the summer months (their main residence was a mansion in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights) and the formal gardens. A clubhouse for entertaining and for housing visiting guests is also nearby, as is the gardener’s house and greenhouse. All of this sits on 856 acres of beautifully forested foothills. Woodland hiking trails wind through much of the property.IMG_6734Last Friday, on a beautiful autumn day we visited the park for their Christmas event. We enjoyed the old fashioned decorations, live music, and festive atmosphere as we toured the cottage and wandered the lovely grounds and trails. Costumed docents greeted us and shared park history, and Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand for the little ones.IMG_6741IMG_6726IMG_6730Special arrangements were made to have the cottage (which is currently closed while roof repairs are being made) open for tours on this weekend. Yes indeed, they call this a cottage!IMG_6727Inside the cottage is quite dark, but have a look at the lovely old fashioned holiday decorations and the gorgeous windows in each room! Just charming!IMG_6723IMG_6721IMG_6720It was in 1975 that the state of California purchased the property and it became the Empire Mine State Historic Park. Check the website for tours, hours, and a wealth of information about the history of this impressive park.