No Limit to Weeds and Wonders

It’s no wonder I can’t scrub the stain from under my nails. I’ve improved the soil here over the years till its almost dark as coffee—black, no cream. And every spring/summer day I’m in awe of how the weeds just eat it up. Somehow weed-pulling in earnest feels easiest when done with bare hands—no thought for lady-like nails.
Yesterday I pulled the mother-of-wild-onions. No intent toward competition like mine’s bigger than yours, I actually measured it: thirty-six inches from about-to-flower top to bulbous root and strings. Wild onions are easiest rooted out when ignored till tall and tough. I couldn’t ignore handfuls of healthy almost-seeded others where weeds had been snatched only a day earlier—and days and months before. I wonder what possessed me to glance Heavenward and think “Thank you for watering my gardens.” Had I forgotten? Weeds flourish among the flowers– especially when well-watered.

Still, the daily eye-popping surprises are wondrous–many old faithful friends (some passed down through generations of care) and some, 2013 fall’s new plantings. My lavender clematis (proper name of which escapes me)—way clingier and climbing than last year, flaunted several blossoms instead of only one. Then another clematis crept in under the bank of vines sprawling the length of the patio railing and there it lay—in single-blossom purple glory on the concrete floor! Pretty as a picture.

 

Sneaky Clematis
Sneaky Clematis

The old rose we planted twenty-three years ago (in honor of our 40th wedding anniversary) surprised me in June as I had thought it a goner. One perfect hot-pink blossom, when full out, defied the support of its spindly stem. So I cut it for indoor display, stuck it in a skinny crystal bud vase and supported it with Mock Orange sprigs from the old faithful bush my dad (Thanks, Pop!) had rooted for my yard—a heritage from my childhood home. Setting the fragrant bouquet down, I could not refrain from bursting forth a snatch of the tune my husband always sang to me when I could not, for the life of me, recall the rose’s name: “Unforgettable . . . that’s what you are . . .” I’ve wondered how that stuck in the mind of a man who admittedly didn’t know begonia from verbena. But my music-man, wonder-of-wonders, always had it on the tip of his baritone tongue.

Unforgettable Rose
Unforgettable Rose
Unforgettable Bouquet
Unforgettable Bouquet

Today I took him a small pot with two—almost three—red Gerbera Daisies in bloom. Minus a few weeds, a temporary enhancement to his red/white/ & blue mini garden. Mini red and white roses already in full bloom grace our memorial site—perfect timing to honor the dear deceased patriot—lovable/loving/UNFORGETTABLE father of my children. Bless us one and all!

Memorial Garden
Memorial Garden
Daisies For Dad
Daisies For Dad

 

 

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10X Snowfall and Christmas Crescent Cookies

Our first snowfall of the central PA season was earlier than usual–November 27 in 2012. To my eyes it was lovely to look at blanketing the whole property. That included the unsuspecting tables and chairs on the patio and the pouf of clematis vine still loaded with seeds and not yet dried enough to prune. The snow made no exception to my vehicle parked in the driveway.

FirstSnow

As luck would have it, I needed to escape the 2-inch accumulation for an early doctor’s appointment five miles over the river. And lo and behold with a half hour to take-off time, I was met at the exit by my daughter all bundled up in heavy coat, hood, scarf, mittens, and boots. In no time she had uncovered my Ford Escape with a long-handled brush, warmed up the motor and interior, and reminded me where on instrument panel to find defroster and heater controls. Lucky me for 4-wheel drive on steep inclines to my destination. Double lucky to have a thoughtful daughter who finished all the shovelling in my absence.

Having recorded Mother Nature’s introduction to winter here, I’ll segue to a children’s poem–heretofor unpublished–describing a subtle snowfall. One I didn’t have to conquer on wheels.

A 10x Snowfall

by Mariam Davis Pineno

If every house were gingerbread,

a dark molasses brown,

I’d say THE SIFTER overhead

has topped our tiny town.

So powd’ry–snow drifts down

to decorate each tree,

someone must soon sweep sugared walks.

I hope that someone’s me!

Now for the Christmas Crescent Cookies, formerly served as Conewago Crescents in my younger daughter’s coffee house. Sift a bowlful of 10x sugar, then roll cookies in it twice–once when warm from the oven and a final coat when cool. That makes them sweet enough, in case you’re thinking the amount of granulated sugar in the recipe sounds skimpy. Caution: baked, the cookies are fragile, but still need to be handled hot–carefully.

COOKIE RECIPE

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

CREAM 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter

Add 5 tbs granulated sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp water

Sift 2 cups unbleached flour with 1/2 tsp salt and stir into butter mixture

Add in 2 cups finely chopped walnuts or pecans and mix thoroughly. May need to use your nice clean hands to incorporate all

     Using portion about the size of a small walnut, form a ball, then roll in your palm till smooth, thinning out ends slightly to bend and form into crescent shape.         BAKE about 20 minutes–just to starting to brown.

     Roll in powdered (10x) sugar while warm. To protect countertops I spread paper towels first, then cover with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Roll in sugar again when cool. The crescent shape (if you keep size uniform) makes storing in round tins ideal. Can’t slide around when hugging each other, hm? I double the recipe and get about 9 1/2 dozen cookies. A Tupperware pie taker holds 7 1/2 dozen with circles of waxed paper between layers. The cookie freezes well. Who knows? You might find a small plastic bagful a year later. It has happened!

 

Clematis

One of the most rewarding plants ever to grace my garden looked like a dead little stick when it was first planted. But in its first year, it sprawled out as if it had lived here all along. And now–at the end of the summer/early fall season–like the past three or so weeks–its millions of fluffy seeds lurk on the vines just waiting for a breeze or bird to ensure the perpetuation process all over again. And everywhere a speck of soil happens to lie, new shoots of clematis will appear looking healthy and ready to climb.


Clematis covers patio railing

I will be begging family and friends to take transplants home. Some months of summer I’m not happy to have the leafy vine obscuring my view over the railing where it makes itself at home. Sitting in my glider chair or at the matching table and chair garden set, I will never be tall enough to see my patio garden beauties without getting right up and leaving my comfort behind. But is it worth it? Ask the bees. They’re in love with the sweet blossoms. As for me? Seeing the clematis’ bigger picture from every angle–which my camera does every year–never gets old for me. This season I caught a closeup so I’d have those pure white little stars handy for when I look out on the first surprising bank of fluffy white snow. A decorative cover for the same length of patio railing. I will get just as excited over nature’s gift. Wouldn’t trade my four PA seasons for all the white sand in the south!


Close up of Clematis