Gardening with Cats Summer Heat Uncategorized

When Peaches Meow: Musings with “Most Beloved”

The Orchard Years

I look up and above to the picture Mom gifted me of my 11-year-old self, hand across the back of our Labrador Retriever’s shoulder, and Dusty (our rescued groundhog) pulling at his jaw. I was sitting, plaintive smile, faraway look in my eyes even then, blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, choppy bangs, knees tucked both under and sideways, on the top of the hill of our orchard.  

And I fall back, am called back, where 88 acres of orchard defined all the summers of my childhood and young adolescence. Rich Haven and Hale Haven peaches—Alberta Cling peaches, peaches by the peck and by the pound, peaches in half-bushel baskets, Montmorency sour-pie cherries, Sweet Cherries, Bartlett Pears, Concord Grapes, Jonathan, Melrose, Red and Golden Delicious apples. Nectarines, Black Raspberries. My mind drifts. My tongue remembers.

Peach fuzz from picking sticky on my hands and arms, peaches bigger than my fists could hold, sweet, ripe peach juice dripping down my chin. The ’54 Ford tractor with the wagon hooked up, flatbed, empty crates out into the orchard and full crates of peaches coming back on that slow, bumpy ride from bush-hog rough-cut orchard grass clear up to the packing shed. 

Dad driving the tractor, his lopsided smile beaming, my sister and I riding on each of the tractor-well wheels, our black lab up on the wagon along with all those crates of peaches that we had picked in the heat of late July and early August sun. The kind of heat that sinks into you in this part of southeastern Ohio. Humid heat. Overhead, brilliant noonday-sun heat. Heat that makes you thirsty—before-anything-else heat. 

Grandpa bought that land, 100 acres at the top of Malta Hill, to start an orchard. After WWII. Money from his G.I. Bill. Planted an orchard 4 miles straight up that hill to get all those fruit trees close to the heat of the full Ohio sun. And far enough away from the Muskingum River valley where trees, townspeople, and a stronger chance of a killing frost could wipe out a full crop of peaches.

Memories of so far away and long ago, wispy—as if, almost, they didn’t happen in this lifetime, in my lifetime. And yet still the peaches cling, the orchard clings, a love for planting and growing. A heart for all things earth, sky, trees, plants, flowers, animals, that way of life from so long ago, my love still. 

And so on this late August day, I am still who I always was. Perhaps a riper version of self, but still, at my core, that 11-year-old girl sitting atop that hill of our orchard. A bowl of white peaches today centers my table (though these peaches came from California).

White Peaches

And the box they came in? That box belongs to Most Beloved who relishes sitting in (and looking out from) a box clearly labeled “Peaches.”

Most Beloved, When Peaches Meow
California White Peaches “I. M. Ripe
Most Beloved, When Peaches Meow
The Orchard Years: Dusty, our groundhog, tugging at our Labrador Retriever’s jaw
The Orchard Years, Dusty, our pet groundhog

Summer Heat

Ode to Joy of Being a Cat

Coneflowers (echinacea) in the Sun Garden

Allegretto vivo

Scherzo. Forte. Crescendo without denouement. Succession of notes, days metered in the click-click of 4/4, key of A (for August heat), unstable and trilling, repetition the same and in measured heat, 90 degrees plus and even when not, humidity to sear the presto. 

And then there’s moi. Ode to the joy of lounging here. Finishing a power nap and contemplating another. Stretching—stretching,  sauntering off to nibble kibble, lap a bit of water, then curl up to watch the world through the grande windows of the music room. 

Or at least my world here at Gardens at Effingham. The roses are in bloom again (I am partial to the hot cocoa tea rose hybrids and the Mr. Lincoln 7-foot tall deep red tea hybrid), butterflies flit by (I like the Tiger Butterflies), and Strat Cat has passed by at least thrice now—twice while strolling about the grounds and once, just to sit and stare in the window at me. He seems utterly captivated. Perhaps it’s my pink nose? The way I swish my tail? Maybe he can smell the salmon I had midday? 

Perhaps he thinks I conduct the orchestration of all that we (ahem, they) do here. Since this morning a cacophony of metal and grinding, a hodgepodge of coming and going, and a collective disarray of sights, smells, and sounds. Andante and Allegro. I think I made them go away however, as all is quiet now and the truck, machines, and general disorderliness and discord has dissipated. 

Resurrection Lilies sing songs of hope, chanting in time sweet scents divine.

And so Bravo and all that jazz. I am she who is Most Beloved, and from inside the music room, I gaze outward on a world that is all my charge. These gardens and the cats they keep. The masons here to repair our brick walls. The butterflies and hummingbirds, the song birds and the bluejays, the cardinals and the robins, the squirrels, chipmunks, even the koi in the pond. 

All is a tempo. Save for rain. We could use rain. (Am I in charge of rain?)

Ever respectfully yours,

Most Beloved

Hiding behind the Petals
Gardens at Effingham

Winter Dreams

Cat Naps and Winter Dreams: Is it Spring Yet?

Winter Dreams: Seed Catalogs and Gardening Books

Winter Daydreams

  • Eagerly await mail for seed and flower garden catalogs to arrive
  • Bring in mail and start an ongoing (and ever-towering) stack of winter dreams
  • Pile up all garden books, magazines, journals, and catalogs
  • Gather a soft, snuggly blanket (preferably one that looks good against all my white fur)
Cat Naps and Good Intentions
  • Get excited and open several catalogs and books all at once
  • Oops! Remember you meant to make a cup of hot English Afternoon tea
  • Wander aimlessly out to and about the kitchen
  • Put the kettle on to boil
Tea, Dark Chocolate Ginger, and Dreaming of Spring
Gardens at Effingham
  • Jump up in the bay window to look out over the koi pond to where the fish are sleeping–and to beyond to where the gardens are sleeping
  • Bring tea (and a snack) to our favorite overstuffed chair
  • Realize the sun is shining brilliantly through the windows
  • Stretch, Yawn, (and feign a general disinterest in what she-who-holds you is doing)
  • Settle in, get comfy, relax,
  • Yawn and. . .

Oh my, Where does time go? Seems you’ve caught me napping. Just a quick bit of resting my eyes.

Waking Up from a Cat Nap
Gardens at Effingham

Really, I had all of the best intentions.

Herbs struck my fancy this morning (when I was up at the crack of dawn). Let’s see–we have Greek Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Purple Basil, and Chocolate Mint that we brought in last fall. They’re on tray tables in our 3-season room, and we’ve put up “happy lights,” aka full spectrum lights, above them during this winter, their dormant season here in the midwest.

But really, I’d meant to write about all of the new herbs we’re dreaming about planting come spring.

Chives, “Allium schoenoprasum,” are perennials that can thrive here in our gardens. I don’t care for the strong smell of onion anything, be it red onions, yellow and white onions, scallions, shallots, ad infinitum ad nauseam for my sensitive cat tastes. But she-who-holds me uses them in her cooking. Note I said “her” cooking. Not mine. My tastes are strictly salmon and kibble.

Our focus here at Gardens at Effingham is all about growing and caring for our many flowers, trees, and shrubs that provide food, shelter, and nesting sites for our birds and insects. And I have to admit, I do like to chatter at the many birds when I watch them through the windows. I am, after all, an indoor cat (ah, the luxury of being tended to my every whim and need), but I get positively gleeful watching birds flit and flap, hovering and maneuvering through a veritable host of arial acrobatics. Delightful, if I do say so myself.

Chives are companion plants for tomatoes and carrots, (though not for peas and beans), though we don’t grow vegetables–yet. One never knows with she-who-holds me. She seems to love growing all things, great and small. But chives also repel Japanese beetles, which is seriously fantastic since we’ve got a rose garden 39 rose bushes strong.

And as if this weren’t enough to warrant planting chives, chives also repel aphids. Although I don’t know, she who-holds-me seems fond of the enormous ants that come to feast on aphids when our peonies bloom. For when the peonies split open, spilt flowers heavy on their stems, cascading papery flowers layers thick opening wide to the sun, it is the aphids who come first to the flowers.

The ants? They merely follow where aphids have already tread. Both ants and aphids seem integral to whatever balance of nature moves through the cycle of our peonies. They are both host to and hosted on, both reliant upon, dependent upon, a peony’s opening moment of joy, though both, in the offing, at the disposal of that who is next in line.

And so it is I’m both lost in thought and lost in the persistent feeling of that nagging ache of hunger in my tummy. The kibble bowl calls, and just for now, she-who-holds me can dream about what the future holds. My future is here now, in her arms as she carries me lovingly to my bowl. Supper’s on. All is well. And oh my, is that a yawn I feel coming on?