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Bedtime

It is that time of year for the gathering of seeds, the raking of leaves, the cutting back of perennials and the discarding of annuals.

It is that time of year for “putting the garden to bed”.

DSCN5944. . . and so, we did at our Garden Club meeting on Monday.

We didn’t actually put any gardens to bed; we had an informative presentation about chores to do in the Autumn garden in preparation for winter.  No matter how long one gardens, there is always something new to learn. New tools. New techniques. Reminders of tried and true ways. Our presenter, a well known and respected owner of a local feed store, Pioneer Feed in Villa Park, showed us examples of diseased plants, explained soil additives, talked about plant treatments, and even explained how a Sawzall can be employed to rejuvenate Miscanthus grass.

This presentation followed refreshments and our business meeting.  Finger sandwiches and gelatins molded with fruits or vegetables was just what we needed on a cool Autumn afternoon, with cookies and brownies for desert.  A fulfilling meal, followed by the informative lecture, all centered around putting our gardens to bed.

These centerpieces were crafted and arranged by club member Nan. A smaller bed (above) was on each table.A larger one (below) brought out the Goldilocks in me. All were given out as door prizes, much to the pleasure of those who won them, and I think we all stepped a little lighter as we left, our gardening chores awaiting us in the weeks ahead – and the comfort of knowing we all had a place to rest our heads at day’s end.

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A Jarring Experience

DSCN5900I should have shown you what was IN the jar first, but, I was too busy playing Goldilocks and ate the whole thing up. 

Only fooling you. Here is what it looked like before I attacked my yogurt and granola with unfettered glee,

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while scoping out the Chicago Botanical Gardens for an outing the gardening group is taking later this week. 

Have you had any jarring experiences lately?

Come said the wind . . .

autumn-in-connecticut

Come said the wind to
the leaves one day,
Come o’re the meadows
and we will play.
Put on your dresses
scarlet and gold,
For summer is gone
and the days grow cold.  

 A children’s song of the 1880’s

The days are closing in now, here on the Cutoff. The air is crisp, the colors sharp. Leaves carpet the ground, stuff the eaves, and decorate the tops of cars as the trees bare their souls in anticipation for the winter to come.

We have days of heat and humidity still, but, more  and more days of refreshing, cooler temperatures. The night air carries brisk breezes as the crickets correspond in the moonlight and the frogs keep up their low, liquid stream of primal conversations.

The other day, late afternoon, as dinner warmed in the oven,  I spent an hour attending to potted plants that were spent of their summer splendor, sweeping leaves off the deck.The leaves, dear friend, filled a large trash can and end up in the compost pile. The deck looked neat and welcoming as we sat down to dinner inside. As we ate, we could hear the wind kick up. A pot was blown over, the trees scraped the air and anything else in their way. A few, caught in filaments of spider webs,  flitted like butterflies as the temperature fell a good 20 degrees in about as many minutes.

As to the deck, well, it looks like it did – before I cleaned it.

Lamps and overhead lights come on earlier as darkness creeps in sooner each day. It is a time for candles and hot cider, soups and corn bread. It is, after all, sweet Autumn.

I love the changes in colors and the mellowing of the landscape that evolves in this season. There is a heady fragrance that permeates the air.  Just yesterday, I kept telling my Tom that I was smelling maple syrup. I am wondering now if it isn’t the coverlet of sycamore leaves that are bunched up after their night of tossing and turning just outside of the back door. The leaves have a faint maple scent. Oh, dear; I now have a craving for waffles, made in my mother’s waffle maker; an even more aged antique than me.

Such it is with Autumn and me; we seem to have a relationship that conjures up memories and heightens senses as it kisses me with all her splendor.

Do you enjoy Autumn? Do you have a favorite season? For those of you where spring is coming, how are your days and nights?

Bending at the slant

DSCN5923Warm days,

cool nights,

misty mornings;

bending at the slant of the sun. 

White Fence Farm

The most pleasurable moments in my life are often consumed around a table, eating a good meal, talking, laughing, remembering “when”. Such pleasure was had on Saturday night, dining with family on several familial sides, from two East Coast states, as we met at one of the most venerable restaurants still operating on Route 66.

You might remember when I first wrote about the Mother Road, Route 66, a few years ago, citing its starting point on Chicago’s lakefront, which is but a few dozen miles from our house here on the Cutoff.  Several of you commented about time you spent on the “mother road”. Others of you realized, perhaps, that it was more than a television show or tall tale; it was a road often traveled, traversing the wide open spaces of another era. Route 66 was a route, now decommissioned, that connected small towns and bits of wonders across the wide expanse of USA country. I meant to write again about this iconic route, but, well, life took other turns in my writing road, until this weekend.

Along with brother-in-law Mike, in from the Sunshine State, and nephew Andrew’s brother and sister-in-law, from the Big Apple, eleven of us gathered at White Fence Farm in Romeoville, on old Route 66,  for a sinfully scrumptious meal, served family style, with corn fritters, slaw, pickled beets, cottage cheese, bean salad – and, the restaurant’s signature fried chicken.

It was heartwarming to not only catch-up on what was happening in our lives, but, to have our two grand-nephews participate in the lively art of family conversation as they laughed at grown-up’s stories, all entertaining, others downright hilarious (like grandpa Mike’s articulate rendition of his dog’s encounter with peacock droppings or late night stand offs with a gecko – uh oh).

Good memories were gathered to keep close to the heart along with a few photos of all that was consumed, including a few cute chickens among the antiques and memorabilia in White Fence Farm.

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Drifting Under Panes

DSCN5809I seem to be drifting under panels of panes lately; and so it was at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan last weekend.

As we toured this inspiring living gallery of plants and art, in and out of rooms of glass and paved paths of wonder whilst under a stormy sky, I could not help but wonder in awe at how art and horticulture articulate so well with each other.

The sculpture below changes as one walks around; first a man, then a woman, surrounded by shrubs and greenery.

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A queen bee rules from her throne, frogs guard benches, and conservatories house exotic plants that thrive in the upper midwest lakes region.

I’ll stop writing now, dear reader, and just show you a few photos of the delights of the Meijer gardens.

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DSCN5808It all began with hugs and apples.

Phyllis and Art’s bounty from their espelaried Asian pear tree; just harvested, they were nestled on the table, ready to be eaten. Eat them we did, their sweet juices a perfect nectar with which to begin a long, peaceful weekend at water’s edge.

I don’t think either Tom nor I realized how much we needed time to just relax. We’ve taken our walks visited beautiful settings and gardens, attended concerts, enjoyed family and friends – but, it has been a long, long while since we’ve had an opportunity to just be.

Our hosts immediately took us out on the water, where we were fed and floated to the peace of trees, the swiftness of a heron taking off from a pier, and the primal chorus of sandhill cranes, beginning their long migration south.

.We visited garden centers and botanical gardens, watched movies, ate simple and hearty meals – and we talked and laughed and reconnected. I marveled, still do, at the decades that have passed and in some ways really haven’t moved much at all.

There aren’t enough words to express the gratitude I have for the sense of renewal I feel.

It ended as it began; with hugs and apples, the simple abundance of harvest and hospitality to remember the last, sweet moments of summer.

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My Chicago Botanic Garden

A blog for visitors to the Chicago Botanic Garden.

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