Gardening + Nature

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Photos from a doubly grand Saturday. We rode our bikes downtown to pick up a new helmet (pink!) and light (old school headlamp!) for me, so I may ride in both safety and style. It’s my thing. I am love, love, loving being able to bike again. Pittsburgh, unless you live in a very specific part of town, is not an easy or desirable place to ride. Too many narrow streets with crazy-madcap hills, lunatic parked cars and equally maniacal drivers does not make for a positive experience. No siree. So we never replaced our Portland bikes. But now, boy howdy, whoop-ti-do, we are at it again, on wide boulevards, gentle hills, and our own bike lanes, and it is grand, just grand.

We followed our biking adventure with a hot afternoon hike in the Nature Conservancy Aiken Canyon. Long-time supporters, it is always a treat to visit the preserves, feeling our contributions help make it possible. We enjoyed spying the usual floral suspects, even eating some of the red skunk bush berries, which were oily and tart. We also wondered who spied upon us, as there was bobcat, wolf, and fox scat, quite a lot of it on the ground, and bird after bird singing their lively tunes. It was a heady windy day, and I decided, most affirmatively, that heaven is the scent of pine and cedar, whipping along in the air, on my hands, cone thrust under my nostrils with me lustily exclaiming, “That smell!” The best (next to the hubster’s cheek). Definitely.

Now it is storming, sheets of rain rippling in the wind to fill the streets, windows open to better hear the cracks of thunder. Another great day!

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After sunset on the Fourth of July, we walked up to Palmer Park to watch the fireworks. There were a handful of us atop the hill, wind whipping and explosions in every color and every direction and nearly every distance (Yikes, that was close!). The best part, and yeah, broken record alert, wasn’t the fireworks, but the park, Pikes Peak, and Cheyenne Mountain laid bare and beautiful before us. This city!!

In other news, we almost have a complete kitchen. Holla! The hubster just needs to make a hole in the ceiling and roof for the hood, which is mounted and looking grand but disconnected and utterly useless, taunting us. Anyway, easy-peasy, right? HA! Not. Because he has to go into the attic, where it is a million degrees in summa-time to get the job done. So, it might be a while, as we wait for a reasonable early morning temperature so he doesn’t die from heat exhaustion, because I kinda like having him around. Yup.

The bathroom has a few more weeks because drama. Enough said. But it will be done. Oh, yes!! My office is a hot mess, the hubster’s office is yet another, and the basement? Yup. A hot mess. That said, I think we are nearly done with the shifting of boxes and junk from room to room to room accommodate all the work. So, to wrap this enchilada whole, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter! See you at the other end…

 

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I think, perhaps, one of the best things in this life is to rise early and walk or hike or bike, while the world is mostly still and mostly quiet, and the sun hasn’t yet reached its zenith, steam rising, plants dewy, the air redolent of pine and damp earth. This, of course, is made even better if one is accompanied by the dearest of dear friends and kisses and hugs are exchanged, hands held, and exultations are made about beauty and luck and fine art (Patrick Dougherty) and wild scents on the breeze.

Follow this with a trip to the market, small batch jam making, strawberry and the best peach ever, the reading of books while enjoying the gentlest of window breezes, before an early bed-time, and you have, my dear peeps, the makings of a most perfect day. Yes, you do.

Oh, and Happy Birthday America!!

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Up early for an excursion to the Paint Mines. Forty five minutes and a world apart, Indians roamed here, fashioned pottery from the clay, hunted buffalo, lived well. My goodness, what perfection, the two of us, the birds and Pilar and Pedro’s cousins, hopping up a storm. Can you spot the second one in the photos?

We marveled at the earthly quiet, our hushed voices and birdsong, wind in the grass, blue sky. This is what our Western hearts missed out east, the prickle of cactus, gazing upon the vast plains, scorched rock and dust.

I returned, my heart full, of love for our home and inspiration for our garden. It will be like this, with bunnies hopping, flowers dancing and grasses waving, birds whistling and butterflies flitting, bees zooming and us sighing, happily. Absolutely yes.

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All the best angles of our new yard! Our lot is huge, almost double the size of our Portland house and more than double that of our Pittsburgh place, though most of it was taken up by our ginormous house.

It is a shambles at the moment. After years and years of neglect, the back is mostly dandelions, a falling down fence, and the remains of dead trees and shrubs. That big dumpster I told you about? I filled about half of it with branches and the skeletons of six foot tall monster weeds. Fear not! There are a few gems – the snowball bush just above the bird bath, a spindly volunteer of a flowering cherry, a lilac, choke cherry, and three onion plants, smack dab in the middle of the yard. We’ve been using the greens in salads, and will, one fine day, move the plants to a proper garden bed. There, they will be joined by rhubarb and tomato (Sun gold! Cherokee purple!), cucumber, and maybe some ground cherries and boysenberries, if we are lucky enough that they can grow here.

In a wildly wonderful windfall from my friend Jennifer (holla!), we got two massive piles of beautiful stone that we plan to break our backs moving into some pretty configuration involving runoff from the roof, then add masses of flowers, currants, wild roses, and native grasses. Oh, and a patch for herbs and peonies (I already have an order in with Adelman Peony Gardens!), because, well, it wouldn’t be a Colleen Sohn garden without them. No, it would not.

That’s all dreaming, though, at least for now. The inside of the house still isn’t 100 percent hospitable. There’s no shower, but a dilapidated bathtub, no toilet on the main floor, but one in the basement, next to a sink that doesn’t work. BUT, the kitchen counter comes this week, and the guest room is looking pretty snazzy, with a fresh coat of paint, new bedside table, bed frame, box spring, and linens. Just in time, too! Our Pittsburgh friend Megan is joining us today for a visit. We are so excited to see her!

Oh, and the first picture, we’re enjoying a mighty pretty and delicious bulgogi and bibimbap at our new favorite Korean restaurant Shin Sa Dong. Yum…

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