Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Ducklings

YES, it was still raining at the time. Emma delights in telling me that my children are like ducks. They run outside to play in the rain when other people and animals go inside to hide. I do draw the line at drinking puddles like ducks.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Once Around The Sun

OUR beautiful baby has travelled the whole way around the sun and is not stopping there! Now firmly in the world of Upright Beings, his days are one exciting voyage of discovery after the next. How wonderful to observe and share! The exuberance as he runs with his sister and the dog, the silent wonder as he watches a bubble floating away, fascination at a butterfly, delight as he hears someone laughing, astonishment at a new texture on his fingers, determination as he tries to make something fit, mischief as he runs away when called, frustration when something does not work, relief when Mama or Papa are there. And then, he's off again...
Happy First Birthday, Alexander!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Three Weeks of Growth

WE got back to Atlanta after three and a half weeks away in the height of summer, eager to see what had changed in the back garden. Despite exhaustion from the long journey, Emma had to run outside to inspect the vegetable patch as soon as we got home. She delightedly forged a path in the (on her) knee-high meadow of grass and we followed. Alexander took one look at the jungle and abandoned his newly-walking feet for the safety of his knees. The most impressive was the purple hyacinth beans which had shot into flower. Green beans had a handful of beans, which we promptly collected along with a pepper and some tomatoes for lunch. Moving around the garden, the crape myrtle is now in full dark pink bloom, and our yellow lantana takes over half the rockery. It's beautiful! Some other things did not fare so well; I forgot to add the new butterfly bush to the watering list, and sadly it and several annuals didn't survive. But the dry season doesn't seem to have detered the crabgrass and other weeds, which are running rampant in the flower beds.

Several days later we set to work mowing and weeding, and rescuing plants as best we could. This may take a while...

Wild Jam

WE missed the picking seasons for strawberries and blueberries to make jam, but a cycle ride to pick blackberries was something worth waiting for. Emma found the brambles too prickly so was happy to be in charge of the basket. Back at Oma's house, we set to work washing, picking over, heating and juicing, simmering with sugar and gelatine and finally pouring the delicious hot syrup into jars. We had all kinds of fun ideas for decorating the jars once we got home to Atlanta, however sadly the jam had a different destiny and didn't make it onto the plane.

We came home to find muscadine grapes ripe in the garden. Four. Since four grapes do not a jam jar make, we were happy to find an abundance of muscadines and scuppernongs at the farmers market. Once again the house was filled with the sweet scent of cooked fruit and we had fun pressing the pulp through the sieve and watching the pink liquid drip down. These little grapes have a unique taste and make a wonderfully refreshing sorbet! Here's where I found the recipe (called Scuppernong Grape Ice).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Creatures

CYCLING along a wheat field I happened to spot a chubby bird leading her chicks on a trek. They were extremely well camouflaged in the golden-brown stubble - it was only their movement that made them visible. It started me on a quest to try and snag a photo, involving scrambling down a bank of brambles, but they were long gone before I finally landed on the field, panting and scratched. (Course, it wasn't the stealthiest approach I've ever made...). I knew the name of this bird, but only in German. Imagine my surprise when I looked it up and discovered it was a partridge! So, evidently partridges don't live in pear trees; the edges of cereal fields are in fact their natural habitat, and they nest right there in the ground.

We stumbled across another animal's natural habitat while playing cards in a field late at night on a camping trip. A shadow moved across the grass... a hedgehog! We followed it for a while, until we realised our sculking behaviour might appear odd to other campers, and let the little creature go about its search for worms, insects and other such delicacies. My brother did manage to get a photo, but this was a poor substitute for Emma. She was so mad we didn't wake her up, when we told her about the hedgehog the next morning.