elderflowers drying

The Flower of our Labors

This year we’ve been going through the liquor at an astonishing rate.

Really, it’s mostly been me. Beth being a lightweight, and having declared her first taste of gin “nasty,” has not contributed evenly. But to each their strengths. 😂

Honestly, though, I’ve not been drinking much of the alcohol we’ve run through. I mix a drink, take a sip, dump the rest. Then I alter the proportions, mix another drink, sip, dump. It’s not gone down the drain because I’m nervous about what all that alcohol, a …

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Ironweed blooms

Ironweed

In late August the elderberry bushes are nearly finished fruiting, and as the dark purple berries fade a new palette emerges across the fields: purple ironweed and goldenrod, now fully in bloom. Ironweed intrigues me perhaps because, unlike goldenrod, it is a flower I didn’t grow up with, but one I first met as an adult in southern Ohio.  It’s also a plant that starts as a humble florette of spear-shaped leaves at your feet in May. Then you turn around in August to find the flower head nodding d…

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A field of elderflowers in bloom

Is this Elderberry?

Elderberry has huge white, umbrella-like flowers but so do poison hemlock, Queen Anne’s lace, or pokeweed, all of which bloom at the same time. That can cause some (understandable!) hesitation if you are trying to harvest elderflowers for culinary or medicinal use. So here’s how to distinguish elderberry from these lookalikes.

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elderflowers close up - white with yellow stamens

Elderflower Eruption

The elderberry bushes are now flowering outrageously. What a month ago resembled small florets of broccoli have developed into 6” wide umbels of creamy white bloom. These blooms will roll out in waves over the next month or so, transforming our humble field of bushes into an ever changing floral ocean. 

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violet jelly

Violets in Spring

Just as I was starting to think about preparing the lawn mower for its first run, the yard breaks out in purple. 

A thousand wild violets dot the lawn, welcoming the early bees.  I set the mower deck high and shave the grass above their heads.  Mowing so high means I’ll have to cut it again soon, but it’s worth it to let the flowers continue their bloom. 

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freezer veggies

Freeze and Thaw

The days have gotten warm enough that the ice on the edge of the pond is melting. Hurray!

Meanwhile, the freezer reveals that our supply of last year’s peppers is almost exhausted. Booo.

How did that happen?  We’re usually eating the last of the frozen tomatoes around March, but the peppers last until May. 

This is probably what comes of someone’s insistence that we don’t need to grow so many hot peppers.  It’s easy enough to eat up those sweet peppers with spaghetti dinners and liberally adding th…

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walk in fort hill

Fort Hill Earthworks and Nature Preserve

Ever visit Fort Hill Earthworks and Nature Preserve? It’s about about 30 miles straight north of our home, and we managed a visit last weekend before the snow fell. Our hike began with a long, steep climb. Unlike a lot of nature preserves Fort Hill permits dogs, and Wilbur was happy to accompany us.

Beth, who had Wilbur on the lead for the start of the hike, was just as happy Wilbur was with us as he practically pulled her up the mountain in his enthusiasm. I, 20 ft below, slogged along on my o…

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