Gardening + Nature

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When I am world weary and heart heavy but cannot escape this mad collection of bridges, hills, and gulches, I head to the Phipps. I wander, my fingers skimming, searching for scent, my eyes alighting and darting, delighted and eager as butterflies, from plant to plant to plant. The stubborn knots of my troubled soul are loosened by the order and wickedness of nature, where all are needed, all are beautiful, yet none are spared the end. The vanilla of orchids, the whoosh of air on silken leaves, the hum of bees and wasps, and flower after flower nodding in surrender and approval. We are one.

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I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had the courage to go forth into its expanse, to seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils.

Charlotte Bronte

 

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I don’t know what strange magic lurks in Pittsburgh’s grassy underbelly to foment such a marvelous collection of winged creatures, but I am ever so glad. A few fireflies remain, their little flashes the tiniest of paparazzi. A chorus of locusts, or maybe cicadas?, are singing their wild song, the bees are busy, and oh, the butterflies! So very many, everywhere. The first three are flitting about our yard, and that last one, orange and gorgeous, I spied in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Huzzah!

We’ve got quite the bounty of flowers in the garden now, roses, lilies, hostas, St. John’s Wort, marigolds, Russian sage, and more. The top two are echinacea that I planted in the spring. I had never seen white before, so there was a bit of suspense about how they would actually look. I am pleased as punch with my choice. As for the blue, I can only guess that it is somehow related to spider wort (tradescantia) based on the look of the flowers and foliage. The blossoms are about the size of the tip of my thumb, so you can imagine how tiny that bee is! I also saw a large and fantastic yellow butterfly on the lilies yesterday, but, as is often the case with butterflies, it’s presence was fleeting, floating up and over the fence right after I caught a glimpse.

We got the TV room painted! It was a rather icky shade of beige before, and though it wasn’t terribly dark, it sure did make the room feel it. So we are happy and keep lingering at the threshold, pleased with our work and the color choice.

Look at that ceiling fan whirl! Never much for them, we are Pennsylvania converts, the humid air just heavy enough to make one feel the heat when the fan isn’t going. Thankfully, they are all over the house, so we haven’t had much use for a boxed air conditioner. YET.

Must dash – I’m off to hear Bach at an outdoor concert. Have a wonderful Sunday!

Not since living in Colorado have I marveled at the thunderous spectacle of a spring storm. Pounding and rumbling, water sluicing quickety-quick down gutters and shimmering streets. Pittsburgh weather is, thus far, the best I have ever known, elementary school definitions of the elements, fall-winter-spring, at least. We’ll have to see about summer. That may be the rub. This delightful downpour rolled through Monday, evocative petrichor, giant splashy drops, and thunder of the variety that welcomes rather than terrorizes. Air thick with humidity lay in its wake, just right, I thought, fans churning lazily, at least for now.

When the summer sun arrives in earnest and I am out and enjoying it, hopefully not merely melting and cursing the humidity that I now enjoy, I will be protecting my skin with Block Island Sunscreen. What is this, an advertisment? It is, indeed. I will admit that I never thought it would happen, but Kelly, one of the kindly women who runs the company, got in touch. She asked me if I would give it a whirl and report my thoughts. Since it is a product I would actually buy, I decided to go for it. I received my SPF 30 bottle earlier this week and honestly did not expect much. Though I am a natural-leaning sunscreen shopper, I am very picky about textures and fragrance and zinc-white glowing skin. Goldilocks comes to mind, but I think even she would say this stuff is just right. Block Island scores well on the Environmental Working Group’s safe sunscreen guide, has no nasty chemicals like parabens (very bad news for a gal with endometriosis, as they mimic estrogen in the body, and I’ve got PLENTY already), phthlalates, dyes, artificial fragrances, or nano-particles. It smells nice, but the scent doesn’t linger at all. Most importantly, it goes on like regular lotion, no furious rubbing and no greasy skin, and it does the job. Holy frijoles, it’s a win!

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