Notes from a lazy Saturday in August

On Thursday, we got three and a half inches of rain: a brief cloudburst in the midafternoon, a strong storm around five p.m., and then a slow soaker that lasted all night. By happenstance, Marc had been tinkering with the water tank setup and gotten everything fixed just in time. The first rain, about three-quarters of an inch, netted us about a foot of water in the tank. By Friday morning… it was filled! Three hundred thirty gallons… in one night!

McVicker pointing to the fill line on the tank.

McVicker pointing to the fill line on the tank.



Well, yesterday had been a busy day. We’d met with the Laurens County master gardeners–a great group of men and women. And wouldn’t you know it? Our van tanked during the trip, which meant dealing with Triple-A, arranging rides home and to the grocery store since we’d be stranded for the weekend. (The mechanic’s receptionist said the cars were stacked up like cordwood so there was no hope they’d be able to look at it until Monday.)

Sigh. So today, I made up my mind I’d walk out into the lingering cool, sit on the front porch and do something I hadn’t done in days … just visit with the garden. It’s hard to believe there was nothing here but grass twelve months ago…



Penny the Wonder Dog marvels at all the bugs buzzing about the zinnias.


Now I have my quibbles. I’m mad that we still have no blooms on the vines we planted to climb up the columns on the front porch… not a single morning glory, not even one scarlet runner bean. (I think fertilizer might help–Marc is convinced the answer is “old crappy seed.”) But the pollinators seem perfectly content with what’s on the menu: the moss roses, zinnias, black-eyed Susans, and the plant the seed company sold us as “red hot poker” (though it is not Kniphofia–we don’t have a clue what it is)…


The mystery flower. The seed company called it Red Hot Poker, but it's most definitely not the Knifophia, the flower we know by that name.

The mystery flower called “Red Hot Poker.”


–not to mention the ‘Pink Diamond’ hydrangea. I saw five kinds of bees alone, some as big as my thumb–others no larger than a pigeon pea. I didn’t even try to count the wasps.


"Mazurkia' zinnias nodding below the 'Pink Diamond" hydrangea.

“Mazurkia’ zinnias nodding below the ‘Pink Diamond” hydrangea. The alleged Red Hot Poker looms in the background.

There were two tiger swallowtails as big as a man’s hand working the sunflower bed–I’m so mad they bobbed away before I could get a shot. The hummingbird hen who visits every day buzzed the porch before settling in for a long sip at the bee balm–she was long gone before I could so much as take aim.

Sunflowers and castor beans

‘Mammoth’ sunflowers and a pretty dwarf castor bean nodding next to the driveway.


Our smallest cat, Mini, visited with me for quite a while as I snapped photos. She appears to have abandoned Marc’s workshop and staked out the front yard as her special land. I watch her glide from the tornado shelter to the tomato beds under the kitchen window, work her way behind the angel’s trumpet to the front porch, around to the canna beds and back again, daintily picking her way, often lurking unseen in the deep shade, and occasionally leaping and running. She has had the hardest time with the advent of the one we call “the Midget,” our “Wonder Dog” Penny–so it’s so lovely seeing her relaxing…

Speaking of relaxing, today our other cats, Tiger and Monkey, bum-rushed the kitchen. They appear to have had it with the Midget’s hegemony over the house. So, today, when I opened the back door, they charged inside and demanded to be fed. Penny looked quite disconcerted to see them eating in what she had assumed to be her space–she’s just like a child in her blithe assurance that nothing of moment could possibly have occurred B.P., “before Penny”. There was about a half hour of confusion in which the cats investigated and eventually turned their noses up at her food and vice versa, but no blood was drawn, so that counts as a victory.

Cats fed, I was free to return to my circuit of the garden.

I saw a praying mantis with a moth in its deathly embrace. I got a picture.

Look closely at the central zinnia. Praying mantis. Moth.

Look closely at the central zinnia. Praying mantis. Moth.

I saw giant dog tracks through the carrot bed. The prints so were large that, at first, I thought it was a deer, but then I noted the imprint was in the shape of three pads, not a hoof. So I knew Mr. Page’s boxer-Rottweiler, Max, had struck again. Boo hiss.

But there was good news, too. The winter squash, planted in hills on Wednesday, had achieved germination. Hurrah!

And I harvested: pigeon peas, about two cups worth when shelled.


Pigeon peas–a variety called Whippoorwill that I got from the culinary historian Leni Sorensen, which she in turn got from Peter Hatch, Monticello’s (recently retired) garden guru.


I will cook them this evening with okra. Perhaps we’ll have leftover meatloaf–a very special meatloaf made with a mixture of ground turkey and my Cousin Jerry’s venison sausage. Jerry is one of those Southern outdoorsmen everybody talks about but nobody actually seems to know.

Yes, there’s been much to try my patience and my faith this summer… I’ve written about these matters elsewhere. And yet, I still know exactly how lucky I am.

Venison meatloaf, pigeon peas, okra, salad from the garden. And the McVicker made biscuits this morning, too.

Lord, a girl could just burst into song.

An okra blossom in all its glory.

An okra blossom in all its glory. In a day or so, the blossom will fall and that ovary in the center will lengthen into a meltingly tender green pod.



2 comments for “Notes from a lazy Saturday in August

  1. August 8, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Such lovely garden pictures!
    That supposed red-hot poker looks like a zinnia variety to me. But then, I’m the first to admit, flower names often escape me.

  2. Marc
    August 8, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Becky, the leaf forms don’t match–plus is a honking big sucker nearly four feet tall and three feet wide. We’re still investigating…

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