Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Mulberry Bush

WHAT a surprise to discover that there is really such thing as a mulberry bush. And there was me thinking it was just a song! The discovery began at the farmer's market where we noticed a bag of strange looking dried fruits. They were indeed mulberries, and very tasty they were too.

Then, we found a mulberry tree! There are two species in the US - red mulberry and white mulberry. The red mulberry actually turns almost black when ripe and looks like a small, elongated blackberry. None were ripe when we found them, but we plan to go back soon.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Herbal Delights

WE expect great things from our garden this year! Our vegetable patch is way too full of baby plants: tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, lettuces, kale, summer squash, aubergine and yellow watermelon. I don't know what we'll do if they all grow well. Make a new veggie patch?

Dotted around the back garden we also have garlic and onions, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. All of them are very tiny plants - we are enjoying them more for the experience than the yield at this point.

Most of all we're excited about the new herbs, which we planted among the rockery. Added to the rosemary, marjoram, sage, mint and parsley which survived the winter, we now have cilantro, dill, chervil, sorrel, thyme, fennel and basil. Emma already knows all their names and insists on running out alone to pick a sprig every time I need some for cooking. Sometimes a humdrum plan for dinner turns into an inspiration when she presents me with a surprise crop!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Many Hands, Many Hearts

WHAT amazing things can happen when many people come together! For the school silent auction, Emma's class is providing a quilt made entirely of felted wool, with one square made by each family. The theme is "Flowers and Seeds" - other than that we were given free reign to allow our creativity to take us where it would.

The squares turned in showed families' national flowers, flowers with personal meanings, whimsical scenes or elements chosen for their individual interest. Ours is entitled "Carolina Chickadee on Spring Blossoms" (top left corner). So many different ideas, techniques and skill levels, and yet the combined result is so beautiful!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dandelion Straws

IT'S dandelion weather again! Alexander has been introduced to dandelion clocks and can no longer pass by one without stopping to say hello and send fairies flying off into the wind. Emma noticed the milky white sap inside the stems, so we drew a while on the pavement with that, then had peashooter races, blowing different kinds of rice and beans across the patio using dandelion stems as straws and discovering which went furthest. We ran out of time for dandelion flower crowns... maybe for May Day.

More on dandelions from two years ago

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What's Blooming Now?

OUR garden is exploding into colour and buzzing with flying creatures of every kind! The white dogwoods are at their peak; purple wisteria drapes from the tallest trees and an unidentified large shrub has the most beautiful and fragrant creamy white blossoms. A few rockery flowers are peeking out tentatively, the azaleas are budding and just waiting for a few more warm days to burst into bright pink and the aliums we planted in the autumn are getting ready to make their first appearance.

Alexander is very into smelling flowers right now. This photo is from the orchid house at the Botanical Gardens.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tree Butterflies

THEY came by the thousands, a swarm of fluttering creatures descending from the sky. They turned out to be seed pods from our next door neighbour's tree, spinning delightedly on their quest to start new life. We ran around trying to catch them, which actually turned out to be a little easier than catching autumn leaves thanks to the winged seeds' amazing design. Their flight was fascinating and beautiful to watch. These seeds have one wing only, paper thin on one end yet somewhat woody. They are scaled, also like butterfly wings. The other end is weighed down by the seed and leads the way to the earth. We collected a basketful and they became food for Emma's baby, currency in her shopping game, boats in a bucket of water, competitors to race down a homemade slide, fairy wings and so much more. They continued to drop in on us, seemingly intent on participating in our whole day. We obliged by making the winged seeds the subject of our art project. We never did get around to checking exactly what kind of a tree they come from, but we did enjoy their company.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

And In The East

And in the east, the dawn was breaking
And the world was waking
Any dream will do.
-Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat

BEING woken up in the middle of the night for a special girls' adventure is very exciting! Emma and I bundled up and set off to climb Stone Mountain with nothing but tiny torches lighting the way in the darkness. At the top, we gave thanks and welcomed the new day at the mountain's annual Easter sunrise service.

The sunrise was stunning, the view inspiring and the feeling of reverence for the world and its creator most humbling.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bird Walk

IT'S not often I'm on the road at 7:30 AM already on a Saturday, but today I finally got to attend a bird walk hosted by the Audubon Society. The group saw a grand total of 35 species! I didn't catch all of them, but I did discover many birds that I had not previously known or seen. Here are some of my new sightings:

Wood duck
Ruby-crowned kinglet
Blue-gray gnat catcher
Red-winged blackbird
Rough-winged swallow
Double-crested cormorant

We also saw a goose on its nest, plucking feathers for a super cosy lining, a robin sitting in its nest, and best of all, a wild river otter splashing around at the water's edge. Following such a beautiful start, it was a wonderful day!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hot Cross Buns

IT wouldn't be Easter without hot cross buns, and it's so much more fun to bake with a friend.