Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I am the portulaca

Summer is coming to a close.

Earth-shattering news, right? I'm suspecting those above the Mason-Dixon line are sorry to see the approach of fall, while those of us down South are praying for summer to end.

Yes, it's been that hot. Record-breaking temps in the 90s and over for weeks on end.

We did get some rain finally the last two days. Too late for my astilbe, which succumbed to some
kind of fungus. My friend the Master Gardener told me she had transplanted some  from Pennsylvania when she moved to North Carolina, but they only lasted two seasons. So I guess I will count that as a lesson learned.

I replaced them with some echibeckia, a cross between a cone flower and a brown-eyed Susan. So far they are doing well and look very cheerful down by the creek.

One pot of petunias dried up like an Egyptian mummy while we were on vacation. (The others were parched, but are coming back.) I've always had good luck with portulaca, so I got a hanging basket of them to replace the defunct petunias.

Now, I am going to digress here and admit planting flowers takes a little out of me, particularly when I have to hack at the dry, clay soil with a pickax to loosen it. Like the year, I am reaching not just autumn, but the winter of my days. I can still do a lot of things, but it takes me longer to do them and longer to recover afterward.

So when I looked at the portulaca one evening, I had to chuckle. If there was ever a plant that could illustrate exactly how I feel, it's that one.

Here's why:

  This is me in the morning -- bright and  sassy and ready to move mountains.

And this is me by 5:00 p.m., wilted and droopy, ready for my book and a glass of wine.

The good thing is, the portulaca recovers the next morning and is ready to bloom again.

And so do I.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Taking the wine trail

I admit it -- I've been lax in keeping up with this post. I blame summer and all the activity that goes along with being able to get outdoors. Writing has been put on the back burner.

We did take a trip recently to Pennsylvania. We hadn't been for a few years for many reasons: unreliable car, ill health, etc. But we got a new car, and Jim has been feeling better, so we decided to take the chance. I'm glad we did.

Nancy wanted to go on a wine trail while I was there. We'd done this when she was visiting us in North Carolina, where the industry is getting a fast foothold. Jim and Dick weren't interested, so we set off by ourselves.

To our surprise, there is a plethora of wineries in northeast Ohio. I have to say the signage is not as good as it is in my home state. We zipped by a few before the sign registered. And there was no map or website provided by the state tourism authority as in NC.

Still, we managed to find a few. More than a few, in fact. We couldn't stop at all of them (there's a return trip in my future plans) but we did manage five. This is not to say we drank a bottle of wine at each one, or even a glass. I was driving, so it was a few sips for me. It isn't the wine so much as seeing the different venues. Some have beautiful flower gardens. Some had friendly doggie greeters. One was sited in an old church.

Overhead by another visitor: "Every winery is different!" So true!

We had lunch at one, and dipped fresh artisan bread in oil at another.

But it wasn't so much the drive through the lovely countryside or the thrill of discovery.

It was two sisters being together for a day with no distractions, just talking and laughing and sharing a good time.