The red alders on Bow Hill are slowly dying. My first encounters with these beautiful trees were more than three decades ago on hiking trips into the Cascades. They line the riverbeds and streams flowing out of the mountains. You can’t go for a hike in the Cascades without walking through groves of these soothing trees.
Away from streams and wetlands, red alder don’t do well in long droughts. They drop their leaves like ours are doing in mid summer. And with our longer, dryer summers, they are slowly dying. When I go around the neighborhood, I see their bare, bleaching branches more and more.
This morning while checking the upcoming forecast, I let out a gasp when I saw how hot this coming week will be. So far this summer, we’ve had one 80ºF day, so to have five in a row with Thursday the 3rd predicted to be above 90ºF, is most unusual.
The young chicks are fascinated with grapes, the first they’ve ever seen. The one dashing off in the background is making off with a grape and looking for a quiet spot where it can feast on it without being disturbed.
Madrigal’s chicks hatched during the night. She was sitting on a clutch in the woods, and she’s brought them into the chicken yard. As attentive as she is, showing them what to eat, and breaking apart large seeds and grains for them, she’s a bit clumsy too, stepping on them at times when she’s chasing off the other chicks and hens. Tonight they are sleeping soundly underneath her, safe in the chicken yard.
Anemone flowers are a sign that it is high summer. Their swelling buds, covered with white soft felt, are as beautiful as their flowers.
In the vegetable garden, purple magentaspreen sprouts in a bed of tangy sorrel. Sorrel, do I take it to market? Will anyone enjoy its sour bite? There are a hundred ways to eat it, from raw, to soups, to deep fried, to marinated in olive oil, to mashing with potatoes.
Blooming mint, another sign of high summer. And a sure sign of high summer, a blushing tomato. These I can take to market no problem.
Onion blossoms are a favorite of bees. So many blossoms in one huge globe. A bee can gather a flight’s worth of pollen and nectar from just one stop. As sweet smelling as onion blossoms are, I imagine that honey made from the nectar of onion blossoms would be amazing. I’ve read that onion flowers are edible and have a sweet, strong onion taste. I’ll have to try one some day.
I searched for any place that might carry onion honey. I did find a folk band, Onion Honey, but no honey made from onion blossoms.
I listened to an interview with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel who said that once he turned 75, we was going to stop medications for prolonging his life, and let nature take his course. He said that doctors in Japan had discovered that by the time people are a hundred, nearly everyone has dementia, which means I have forty years left before I am batshit crazy, though there are some who probably think I already am.
This morning, I stumbled on a bush loaded with thimble berries. It took less than a minute to fill a palm full of berries. It doesn’t get any better than this, though I wonder how many more years we’ll enjoy such treats.
Or enjoy the delights of blooming Shirohana-mame, white flower beans in bloom.
Or contemplate the potatoes swelling in the soil under the tall potato plants.
Or be tickled by the humor of arugula blossoms.
Or laugh at the silly poppy seed pods, dancing in midair like so many UFOs, a mass invasion of green aliens. So many things we love, but for how much longer? I may not be batshit crazy yet, but it seems that much of humanity is. In just the last few years we’ve seen the utter calamity of huge portions of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia destroyed … by us, by us humans. Corals all around the world are dying, and we humans are the cause. If coral reefs dying all around the world won’t move us to change our way of life, what will?
Ripe thimbleberries, Rubus parviflorus, prove that summer is here. A berry you won’t find in stores, these berries are too fragile to pick and ship. Once ripe, they only last a day or so. To enjoy them, you need to grow them or find somewhere where they grow.
The Shasta daisies are another sign that summer is here. Summer in north Puget sound, cool, chilly nights and warm, sunny days. As close to heaven as you can get.
We will eat like kings tonight. While tending to the potato patch, my fingers touched fresh, firm potatoes. I can finally start selling potatoes at the Bow and Mt. Vernon farmers markets this week. This year, I’ll ration them out, picking just enough so that each week I can have fresh ones for sale.
Fresh potatoes and just picked greens, a meal doesn’t get better than that. Sitting at a table with a fragrant bouquet of sweet peas brought by a friend, life doesn’t get much better than this.
Claire realizes that something is up. She’s making a lot of noise this afternoon. Claire has a voice suitable for the opera. I can hear her calls from far away. Her voice would easily carry to the very last seat in the highest balcony.
The sky is a July blue this morning with mother of pearl clouds drifting by. A sea of poppy heads floats along the garden path. I shake them and listen. Can I hear the poppy seeds rattling inside? Not yet, but soon. It won’t be long before I’m spreading poppy seed jam on morning toast.
It’s the season when perennials rule. There’s no effort required. No spring planting. No weeding. The perennials take over and bloom. The bees are happy. We are happy.
The latest chicks are growing fast. It’s time to think of new names. What goes through the minds of chicks? It’s hard to fathom. Their senses are so different than ours. For one thing, as we go about our daily lives, we can’t see behind us. We hardly ever see our backs. Yet chicks, with their eyes on the sides of their heads, with their heads high above their bodies, always have a good view of their backs and what’s behind them. How different would our thinking be, if we had the peripheral vision of a chicken? We’d rarely be taken by surprise by something sneaking up behind us. Such vision would profoundly change all the mystery novels ever written. No lover would ever be able to sneak behind their loved one, cover their eyes, and say, “Guess who?” Cars wouldn’t need rear view mirrors because drivers could always see what’s behind them. There would probably be a whole category of accessories for our backs since we’d be aware of what they looked like. Hairstyles would be vastly different. “Do you want short bangs on the back of your head, or long bangs?” We wouldn’t have sayings like, “Forward and onward” because we’d be just as focused on backward as we would on forward.
Few things bring as much delight to the table as fresh onions. So sweet, so juicy, your knife crunches slicing through them. This is when they are at their best, before they harden, while they are still green and shiny. Onion green is a green of its own.
Let them go to flower and they put on a comedy, first with their silly caps which make you laugh. And then their charming flowers open, hundreds of little happy faces, tickling the air with sweet perfume. It’s an onion grower’s dilemma. Eat you or let you bloom, eat you or let you bloom?