Gardening in a Sundress: Retired in the Shuswap

Warning: my beautiful pictures have posted upside down again. I do not understand. sorry for the discombobulation…I hope you will enjoy the post anyway.

The early morning air is cool when I step outside and stand for a moment on the front porch. I’m savouring the start of the day, before heat drives me inside to take refuge under the ceiling fan.


Noticing the flower pots are thirsty, I uncoil a bit of hose and turn on the tap. Water wand in one hand and coffee cup in the other, I douse the containers before moving on to the small raised garden where zucchini hang off the vines and nasturtiums tumble over the side. The sun is warm, but not too hot to stand under yet, so I uncoil more hose and move along the perennial bed, admiring the plants that I put in when I built the bed last year.

IMG_0033I need to research August-blooming plants because there isn’t a lot of colour in the perennial bed at the moment But, I note how each plant has grown and imagine how it will look after another two years pass. I remember reading that a perennial bed takes three years to mature. It won’t be until the fourth summer that it will be in its full glory.

IMG_0041I wander down the length of the bed slowly until I reach the friendship rose, a Blanc de Coubert Rugosa that I brought with me from Whitehorse. I call it the friendship rose because years ago, three of us (Kim, Candy & I) used to get together at each others homes over the summer for tea and a garden tour. We’d admire the progress of our gardens, dream over seed catalogues, plan for the next year. Sometimes we’d go out for lunch or visit a garden center. One time, on the spur of the moment, we all bought the same rose bush. Kim and I have remained in touch, but I haven’t seen Candy in years. I wonder if she still has hers? Sadly, although it is a zone 3 plant, the Yukon is not the ideal climate for a Blanc de Coubert, and my poor little bush just barely survived. It hardly grew larger than it was the day we bought it. Kim’s rose has fared equally poorly. When we moved, I couldn’t bear to leave it behind, so I dug it up and brought it with me. In two summers, the rose has already doubled in size.  A little bit of the Yukon in Sunnybrae. 🙂

Mine isn't in bloom at the moment, so here is a picture I got from the internet.

Mine isn’t in bloom at the moment, so here is a picture I got from the internet.

I water the friendship rose and move on to the blueberry bushes and the rhubarb. This end of the yard is still in the shade, lovely and cool. I see weeds. Oh, the bane of my existence! Beautiful green leaves that display dainty blue flowers in the spring. Foolishly, I encouraged them last year. Now I know better. And daisies, too. Back in Whitehorse I used to chastise Mr. C. when he’d mow them down in the side lawn. I worked so hard to encourage them to grow. But here! Here they grow everywhere. They take over the bed like a cuckoo bird pushing its host’s eggs out of the nest and leaving behind its own to flourish in the rich soil.

IMG_0050I march to the garage. Put my empty coffee cup down and don my gardening gloves. Three-prong hand-rake in hand, I march back across the lawn, drop to my knees and start digging and pulling. Inch by inch the area around the blueberries bushes returns to black soil. I move down the bed, leaving the shade and entering the sun. Under the lavender, more baby daisies are hiding, just waiting to grow up and assimilate the brethern. I yank them out.

IMG_0048A wasp buzzes by on its way to breakfast at the hummingbird feeder and I swat it away from my ear. I think, “here I am, weeding the lavender in the sunshine,” and I can feel myself smiling from the inside out. Did you know that lavender propagates by the root? I didn’t. I don’t think lavender grows in the Yukon, so how would I know how it propagates?  Lo and behold, when I lift the lavender to pull the weeds hiding underneath, I find lavender spikes coming out of the ground more than six inches from the parent stock.

After a while I sit back on my heels and take a little break. My back is sweaty. My head is hot. In only an hour the sun has gone from pleasant to brutal. I stand up and brush the grass off my knees. Suddenly, I realize that I’ve been gardening in flipflops and a dress.

IMG_0032This fact makes me smile, because back when I worked at Yukon College, I used to fantasize about my retirement. One of the things I wanted to do was learn to sew my own dresses. Another thing was to go out in the mornings and water the garden with a hose whenever I wanted to (not just on Saturdays & Sundays during July).

Well, here I am, this morning. I’ve just come inside, to wash the grass stains off my knees with a cool washcloth. to scrub my wrists and arms, and wash the sweat off my face and neck. And I am wearing a sundress that I made myself.

It’s pretty awesome.

The Simple Woman’s Daybook: August edition

It seems as simple-woman-daybook-smallthough I do a Simple Woman’s Daybook post about once every three months.  Today seems like a good day for one. Check out the link to see what other women are up to today. And if you’re a blogger, join in! 🙂

Outside my window… the sun is breaking through the clouds and it’s starting to warm up again. It was quite cool when we started out on this mornings walk, and I was wearing a sweater. By the time we got home, though, the sweater was tied around my waist and I regretted not putting on sunscreen.  Those sunbeams feel like lasers when they hit the skin! I didn’t have a hat, either. I should have known better. But my goodness, the air smells wonderful right now after a night of deep soaking rain! When the sun warms the wet soil & trees it just smells like summer.

I am thinking…about the novel I’ve been working on. I’m thinking about where the story is going and how I want to get one of my characters from here to there. I’ve skipped ahead and written a couple of chapters out of order. Now I have to go back and connect them. It takes a bit of thinking, and like Winnie the Pooh says, “…that’s a very good habit to get into.”

I am thankful…Yesterday we went for a hike with our friend Rebekah (remember the one who got locked in the outhouse?). We’d just started going up the Upper Margaret Falls trail when suddenly a big whoosh of wind came down and knocked a tree down right behind us. Crack! The air filled with needles and floating debris. A moment later, another Crack! and a second tree came down. Right after that we heard the sound of electrical wires humming and popping. Well, crap. We turned around and descended to where we could see the power lines along the side of the road. Sure enough, a tree lay suspended over the line, and both downed line and tree hung right over the trail. Not wanting to go under the line, we bushwhacked our way down the hill, slid down the embankment and crossed the road to the parking lot. The sky had opened and let go a deluge before we got there, of course, so we were fairly soaked by the time we made it back to the car. My pedometer said we took a total of 650 steps. So much for the hike. I am thankful that nobody was hurt.

In the kitchen…In just a minute I’m going to put a batch of sourdough bread on in my breadmaker. I love having a breadmaker in the summer because we can enjoy fresh bread for toast and sandwiches as well as loaves of banana bread without turning on the oven and heating up the kitchen. Mr. C has gone to visit his cousin in Vernon for the day, so I’m looking forward to having fresh toast with my soup at supper time. What kind of soup? Zero-point home-made broccoli. Yum!

I am wearing…a comfortable khaki-coloured skirt, apple green sleeveless t-shirt top and flip flops.

I am going…Mr. C and I have been talking about how we want to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary next month. He will be in Whitehorse on the actual day, and is feeling bad about it. But I said not to worry about it. We’ll celebrate when he gets back. We’ll do something we used to do on our anniversary but haven’t done for many years…go on a camping adventure! So I am going to spend some time on the internet and look up campgrounds and National & Provincial parks, hiking trails and things to see around Nelson and Cranbrook in the Kootney region of British Columbia. That’s where we’ve decided to go for a couple of days because the last time we were there was more than 30 years ago.  That’s waaaaay more fun than dinner in a fancy restaurant in my books.

I am wondering…I put the wire laundry rack out on the lawn yesterday morning instead of the covered deck. We were having company and the deck isn’t really big enough to entertain on if the laundry is drying there, too. So I thought why not let it sit out in the bright sun. Maybe the whites will get whiter. Well, of course, it rained. And then it rained again. So I’m wondering now if the sun will be out long enough for it to all dry before the end of today. It looks promising so far…

Update from 5 minutes ago: a sun shower! At least the laundry will smell really really fresh, lol!

I am reading…The Sign, by Raymond Khoury. I don’t think I’ve read anything by him before. It’s a pretty good SF read and I’m enjoying it. I’ll read one of his other novels when I’m finished with this one.  It’s one I picked randomly off the shelf at the library. Those librarians are so clever, the way they stand books up at the ends of the rows just to entice me to take them home and read them, lol!

I’m also reading The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd for one of my critique partners, Holly Kerr. It’s really cool to be a beta reader for a real working author. Man oh man, you’ve no idea how cool. Especially when she critiques my work in turn! Look for her books on Amazon!

I am hoping/I am looking forward to/the future holds… getting involved in some new things. We’ve lived here a year and a half now. I am hoping that I can start finding a place in the community now. I’d like to do some things this fall like get involved in a new quilting guild I found in Blind Bay. They are a fun group of ladies whose company I enjoyed the few times I met them last year. There’s also the Shuswap Quilters Guild which I got involved with last year and will probably continue with. BUT I really don’t want to become a middle-aged lady who only just quilts, ya know? So I want to learn line dancing, too. Problem, is, it meets on the same day/time as the Shuswap Quilt Guild. So I don’t know what I’ll do about that. And I’m once again considering teaching a dance class or two. And I might give the local writers group another shot. I wasn’t too impressed (didn’t feel welcome) when I tried last fall, but maybe they deserve a 2nd chance…I like to be involved in things.

I am learning…is there such a thing as an introverted extrovert? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what I am. And it feels a bit silly to still be figuring myself out at 54 years of age. Eee Gads.

Around the house…the radio is off for a change. The fridge is humming. the two wind-up clocks are ticking (cuckoo and mantle). A cool breeze is wafting through the curtain hanging in my door. The sounds of crickets and birds chirruping have made their way through the windows, which are wide open.

In the garden…zucchini!

I am pondering…a title for my work in progress. A novel needs a title, even if nobody but me and my critique partners will ever read it. I’ve gone just past 50,000 edited words now, and it feels like it’s time to give it a name. The one I’m contemplating is Holding Space. But Double Exposure is in close second place.

and also…is it time for a new banner on this blog?

A favorite quote for todaythink think thinkA few plans for the rest of the week…I don’t really want to have to DO anything, actually, but I’d like to look through my dress patterns and think about maybe making another shift dress.  And I’ll probably take advantage of Mr. C being busy at the airport for the next couple of days to do some writing. Lots of writing, actually.

A peek into my day…a bit of this, bit of that, some of the other thing.