Summer 2018 Rainy. Grey. Humid. Rainy. Grey. Humid. Flooding. Scorching heat. Rainy. Grey. Humid. Flooding. Scorching heat. Bugs extraordinaire. Make me run inside for shelter. AC. A spurt of sun appears. Some tomatoes wear tough rain jackets, many others split on the vine while unlucky peppers turn soggy rather than red and basil’s aromatic gifts are non-existent this year. The grill waited to be fired up but the fire and enthusiasm in me drowned out.
What to make of this autistic summer? Although many people disagree on the “causes” of autism and of climate change, they both exhibit blatantly foreboding signs:
Climate change – an increase in the frequency and strength of extreme events (storms, floods, droughts) that threaten human health and safety.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) characteristics – social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges, and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors.
Six full days at best I could work in the yard this summer, and grill on two. Tall grass is as unkempt as the autistic’s personal hygiene. Weeds are poised to take over. They know I will not be tugging at them in the rain or with mosquitos biting my neck. Arms. Legs. Scratching for relief. Scratching. Scratching. Where is the relief? Summer use to be a break from the long, cold, stressful winter but Mother Nature’s fighting, hitting, kicking, biting, throwing objects from her autistic corner. Does she feel cornered?
Autistics struggle with severe anxiety, sensory dysfunction, and deficits in social communication. Half are considered aggressive toward others, and nearly one-third of autistic adults are unable to use spoken language to communicate.
I hear the thunderous banging and wailing. Her words trail behind the clouds…the rain, and tears of desperation. I see her utter frustration.
If you don’t start your own vegetable plants — like I usually forget to do in March, you’re probably like me and purchasing starter plants from a local greenhouse. The problem I always run in to — especially for cherry tomatoes and peppers, is they’re usually packaged four to six plants to a flat which is way more than I need. Luckily, another customer felt the same so I happily gave half of them away right at the checkout this year. Still, I ended up with too many, particularly when a few plants returned on their own. (I never have the heart to rip out and discard these orphans.)
But, I do toss tomatoes that split on the vine which turned out to be about a third of the crop this year. After giving plenty away, making some tasty bruschetta, salads, and popping into the juicer for some added Lycopene, I’ve frozen several bags for when I’m puttering in the kitchen on a cool autumn Sunday.
This week I added some of those fresh tomatoes and red bell peppers to a meatless version of a southwestern pie that I make this time of year:
cherry tomatoes, black beans, char-grilled sweetcorn off the cob, cilantro, onion, green chiles, red bell pepper, green onions…
grated Mexican cheese blend on top for last 15 minutes in oven
cooked southwestern pie
avocado/cilantro yogurt condiment
bite of southwestern pie tastes great with salsa too
Have fun with the ingredients. Try it for dinner tonight and let me know how you like it.
One of my favorite morning activities is walking through the garden discovering what’s bloomed then cutting a basket full of flowers to become a bouquet. Focusing solely on colors, textures and scents quiets my mind while the warming sun and cooling breeze brushing my skin soothes my HSP spirit.
Mother Nature offers this gentle good morning to anyone taking time to appreciate her splendid gifts. Try meditating while creating a morning bouquet and see how you feel. Refreshed? Focused? Rewarded? At peace? Grateful?
A bit overly ambitious this morning, I now have three bouquets to grace my kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. How I love this time of year!
I hadn’t realized pollinator week is upon us but am acutely (and sadly) aware that most of the honey — even “organic,” is being reported to be contaminated with the glyphosate of Monsanto’s Roundup.
It’s pleasing to see more people interested in honeybee production but we need to do more — via planting and becoming more vocal — to help these bees stay busy and thrive. I’ve reblogged this post “All the Buzz about Bees” to see what you can do at home to help them.
It’s a busy time of year for everyone: spring gardening, spring cleaning, graduations, end-of-year award ceremonies, holiday travel, and a whole lot of other happenings.
My photo of article in Midtown magazine. Photo of bee on flower by Matt Williams.
I’ve been busy working on several upcoming article assignments, and that’s the reason for my lack of writing a recent blog post. So, I thought I’d share an article I wrote for the current issue of Midtown magazine. It’s on a subject that’s near and dear to my heart, pollinators, specifically honeybees (Apis mellifera). Their numbers have been declining due to several reasons, most notably Varroa mite infestation. There is encouraging news, though. Some local beekeepers are starting to see an increase in their colonies. What can home gardeners do to help? Read more about it in my mostrecent articleappearing in the May/June issue of Midtown…
Dazzling greenand metallic blue dragonflies transformed my summer to autumn. Taking in the colorful, changing fall landscape yesterday amid September temps, I was mesmerized when a silvery golddragonfly as sparkly as Christmas ribbons landed on my garden chair. We both sat perfectly still for the next few minutes, its lipstick red mirrored dots on gossamer wings captivating me.
Surely, clothing and fabric designers must get their ideas from nature I thought. And then my view cast to the maple tree reflected in the pond, and the pathway illuminated from a myriad of golds, greens, browns, oranges and reds that painted the cherry, pear, oak, magnolia and unidentified trees.
I felt awestruck that nature could beso endlessly beautiful, even while dying.
But, then I decided to look at it another way. Just as the dragonfly transforms so does the tree. It may shed leaves until it stands stark and bare but there is a regenerative undercurrent; it is not approaching death, it is transforming, preparing for another season, for another time, for the vitality of Spring.
My view of the seasons reflecting life — birth (spring), prime of life (summer), mid-life (autumn) and end of life (winter) — has also transformed. No longer do I see only one life cycle. Nature is teaching me more about life and what I use to call death. More and more, I am convinced the end is not the end per se. Life, for us, for trees, for seeds has many cycles. I’d much prefer to think I’ll continue to grow and evolve than to die back and out. The roses return. Perennials too. Trees grow new leaves and bloom in the spring. Again and again and again.
There’s lots of talk about “staying in the moment,” but for me and my busyness, it’s more a matter of returning to the moment. I nearly missed this photo two weeks ago when a colorful mushroom caught my eye but I accidentally ran it over with the lawnmower before getting a photo. I was given a second chance this week.
Most of the photos I take are surprises from nature. Too often I’ve regretted not having my camera in these exact moments. Now, I always throw my camera in my bag before a drive. And when I see something that speaks to me, I stop, pull over, or turn around if necessary and return to that moment. The photo preserves the pleasure.
Driving home this evening with the moon roof open and windows down, I was still savoring a glorious day with an old friend. Kicking off the afternoon in her favorite gardening center and seeing new varieties of trees and plants made my spirits soar.
I learned that the tree I noticed on my walks this week is a Limelight Hydrangea — absolutelybeautiful! In the next row I discovered a Firelight Hydrangea sporting white to pomegranate colored flowers all on the same shrub — delightful! A Dappled Willow caught my eye then the frost white needles on the Korean Fir...and flowing heart-shaped leaves on the Alley Catand Ruby Falls Redbuds — heavenly! Kalmia Latifolia Minuet (Mountain Laurel) surprised me while the Tricolor Beech tree was deceptively interesting. Manhattan Euonymus and Pulminara Moonshine’s brillance drew me in and I’m already envisioning them gracing my entryway.
Thankfully, the humidity that stole Summer thus far was absent today. I drove home in laid back contentment, drinking in the beauty of the mountains and luxuriating in the 72 degree breeze kissing my skin while gently tousling my hair.
But, rounding the corner to a glowing sunset on the lake overwhelmed me with gratitude for the ability to see Nature’s exquisiteness.
I made a hearty bouquet last week of wild tiger dayliliesand spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis that I placed in a cobalt blue vase to greet me in the morning and accompany nighttime meals. This lively contrast of oranges and purples contained flowers in bloom and those in waiting.
On day 2, several of the lilies had closed and dried while others had bloomed.
On day 3, several other lilies closed and dried. New ones bloomed. The same held true for the spiderwort pods.
As this process continued throughout the week, I noticed that each bud seemed to be taking turns in its cycle of life. I wondered, “How do they know when to bloom and when to die?”