Every time I go back to the Carolina home place, I notice subtle changes outside. The fences have held up well, but after decades of weathering, many of my dad’s well-crafted posts have either tilted or fallen. The barbed wire is loose and not a steady perch for birds. Sometimes a scraggly shrub can serve equally well, though, judging from this artistic, long-sustained, bird posing.
The pond in the background — hidden by the goldenrod and dying foliage — is low this year, even though rain has been plentiful. The crawfish have been busy carving out the dam, I suspect. My dad would not be happy and would be getting his tractor out to repair the bank about now.
A few spindly Russian sages appear every year despite some stiff competition from weeds below.
There are mountain views all around the house, but I often end up looking at quirky combinations on the ground. Old-fashioned obedient plant, iris, and bits and pieces of other plants (including weeds) make an interesting vignette. Mental note: I like this limey-green, maroon, lavender, and grey color palette and want to use it more in designing.
Concord grapes and morning glories grow side-by-side. It’s an iconic look/memory from the past. (Note: there are multiple containers of Concord grapes in my refrigerator. If I can stop eating grapes, there will be jars of Concord jelly this week).
An un-named yarrow amidst echinacea and other plants, including the very unwelcome Glechoma or ground ivy. It’s everywhere — in the grass and lots of beds. It’s impossible to eradicate.
Every year my mother’s neighbor shares either red or green apples from her trees. They’re the old-fashioned kind that don’t get pruned much or produce big, unblemished fruit. Last year, this red variety was almost bare, so my son missed out on a long-held, annual ritual at his grandmother’s.
This year, the tree was full of apples. All of us, including the woodpeckers that hovered in the upper branches, were grateful. Going to the grocery store and buying apples is just not the same, even if the specimens are big, shiny, and perfect (albeit tasteless).
The neighbor’s cat is watching something in the grass, not giving us the evil eye for being near the apple tree. His pal, Stella, disappeared several months ago, possibly the victim of one of the many hawks we’d seen flying over the house.
The rituals of nature play out and the fenceposts keep holding on.