Saturday, May 28, 2011

If happiness was a seed…

If happiness was a seed and grew up to be a flower, this is the flower it would be. In which case, happiness would have to be a rhizome, but you get the point.

Why this flower? Well, it could actually be any one of these dozen or so irises that started blooming last week in front of our house. I waited three springs for these flowers, but their history goes back much further than that.

These irises came from Grandma Zada's yard in Nebraska. Mom dug them up, put them in her carry-on, and hauled them half way across the country for me about four years ago now. They were the only item I requested from Grandma's house. I waited for the following spring to plant them, which meant I planted them in a concrete planter on the happy little patio at the Mini. As if I had carefully and thoughtfully stored them just right in the plastic bag surrounded by a paper bag (you know mom and bugs), they sprang right up—fans of dark green, promising-looking leaves. However, they didn't flower that first year.

By mid-summer, our lives were on the move again as we moved into Big Red, aka the Barn. I dug up the irises and moved them to the new house and planted them out front next to the driveway. Since they had been transplanted yet again, the next spring offered a repeat performance: big green fans of healthy-looking leaves, but no flowers. We held out hope for quite a while, but as we watched irises bloom and eventually die all over town, we knew it wasn't going to happen.

Well, this year was finally their year. I didn't even know what type of iris they were or what color they were going to be. They're just perfect. Then again, they could have been the ugliest flower you've ever seen and they'd still be just perfect to me. Everything they represent is good and happy.

When we went to Ogallala for Grandma's funeral, I loved getting to show the Boyfriend around town and show him all the places that meant so much to me. But it just wasn't the same without going to Grandma's house—the backyard, the beer 30, the porch, the flowers, the birdbath. That was Grandma. These irises are all those wonderful things combined. And they make me feel like a tangible part of that house, of Grandma, is still with us. If only those rhizomes could talk…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Garden Inventory 2011

I fear that I'm inclined to do this inventory tonight because of the cold weather coming this week. I got everything planted over this past week, and while the lows are only supposed to be in the low 40s, we seem to be in a cold pocket that is predictably cooler. In any case, as of today this is what we have in our 2011 garden.

In the north raised bed along the fence, we have two kinds of garlic (a softneck and hardneck), three kinds of lettuce (black-seeded simpson, a salad blend mix, and little gem), and a super sweet 100 tomato. We also have some volunteer potatoes that we might let go. Between the bed and the fence I've planted some sunflowers.

In the front raised bed, starting at the left, we have four broccoli plants that are doing great. We even have the beginnings of the first crowns. Next to the broccoli are two kinds of radishes (sparkling white tip and watermelon). In the middle of the bed are beets, although not many came up. I planted one of our baby tomatoes (a redo Brandywine) in the middle of the beets. In the cold frame are green onions, only a couple big onions (the ones I direct seeded outside didn't come up, but a couple transplants made it), a roma tomato, and a couple marigolds.

In the back raised bed, starting at the left, we have sugar snap peas coming up the trellis, and in front of those are parsnips and two kinds of carrots (muscade and danvers half-long). In the middle of the bed are a couple marigolds, a black prince tomato, and some basil. Under the cold frame are two more tomatoes (a mortgage lifter and a German Johnson), another basil, and a couple more marigolds.

In the back bed along the fence, we've got potatoes coming up on the right and melon (tam dew) and yellow squash under the cold house. We'll be putting pole beans and corn back there as well.

I've loaded up our pots with odds and ends (i.e., baby plants that I can't bring myself to kill), peppers, and herbs. By the door we have rosemary, strawberries, albino peppers, parsley, and jalapeno peppers. By the grill we have orange mint, oregano, and baby pink icicle tomatoes (that don't look like they're going to make it). By the hose bib, the big pot has Anaheim peppers and the small pots have thyme and some baby tomatoes (Brandywines). The last group of pots have a chocolate bell pepper, marigolds, and a determinate tomato that I'm blanking on the name at the moment (solar something-or-other).

I have one other baby tomato out front, and our hanging baskets by the front door have strawberries in them this year. We've even got a red one already! We've still got our raspberries in the back and we've replaced the strawberries in the strawberry bed.

I was really disappointed about losing the tomato starts, but I bought a couple tomatoes from Edwards (and any excuse to go to Edwards is fine by me) and a friend was nice enough to give us a few as well. I also ended up buying a few peppers from Edwards (the Anaheims) and some herbs. Here's hoping it all survives the night!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Not-so-rush Hour

Yesterday I experienced my first ever pleasant bike ride to work. I biked to an old job a few times from the Mini, but it was a chore—never something I looked forward to. The route took me along some of Boise's least bike-friendly streets and left me white knuckled and stressed by the time I got to work.

Biking from the new house to the new job is a whole different story. Although the Boyfriend assures me the distance is about the same as that old ride, 95% of it is along Boise's Greenbelt, which is yet another part of this city that makes it so wonderful. I won't pretend that the Greenbelt doesn't have its frustrations. Any Boisean will tell you it can be a bit of a bumpy ride. But there are no stop lights, no diesel trucks blowing fumes into your lungs, and no drowsy motorists completely unaware of their surroundings. There are geese, which I'm convinced are quite vicious, but no close calls to report yet.

So yesterday morning, after a practice ride last weekend, the Boyfriend and I set out on our two-wheeled morning commute. There couldn't be a nicer way to start the day. It was chilly yesterday morning, but once we got pedaling I felt great. After a short stretch on the streets, we were on to the Greenbelt. The birds were chirping and the churning, near-flood-stage river was amazing. The air smelled so crisp and clean—it was a better wake-up than a triple latte and the Boyfriend's damn rooster alarm clock. Perhaps the best part was that the Boyfriend slowed down and rode with me. By 8 o'clock yesterday, we had exercised, enjoyed the outdoors, and spent a relaxing half hour or so chatting about the river, the general demeanor of cyclists (much friendlier in the morning, by the way), and how out of shape I am.

It was a perfect morning—one of those mornings that reaffirms that it really is the little things—bike rides, time with the Boyfriend, clean air and rushing rivers—that make us the happiest. It was also one of those mornings that reinforces to me how much I love this place.