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Summertime on the Tobacco

Pat Maurer

Pat Maurer

Another week gone by and already it’s time to write this column again.

It’s been a quiet week after all of the recent excitement when a tree came down across our fence and propane tank. It is gone now, the fence is fixed and we are discussing planting a couple new trees in the backyard because it looks so bare out there.

I guess watching the cleanup “crew” take care of the mess gave us a little inspiration, because we decided to do a little sprucing up outside ourselves last weekend.

Now the project list for this summer has one more thing crossed off. We have moved our sidewalk stones out, removed the mulch from the front of the house, installed pea stone and filled some containers with flowers – to both discourage our recent influx of ants and keep flammable wood chips away from the house. It took us all weekend, but it is done now and it looks pretty nice too. Makes me want to tackle our overgrown mound in the front yard – another “to do” item on that long, long list.

Grandson Jesse will be a big help with that next one. He volunteered to come and help me pull out weeds Saturday – well actually they are a perennial flower I planted some time ago, that has taken over the mound and is absolutely burying our other flowers out there. I really need to check on plants to make sure they aren’t the type that spreads so fast before I add them…

The lilacs are done blooming now and the snowball bushes are looking a little bedraggled, but we have a new batch blooming now. The irises are up and the daylilies are starting to bloom.

In fact, although the calendar says it won’t be here until next weekend, summer weather seems to have arrived here in Clare County with flowers blooming everywhere.

Speaking of great smelling flowers, my peonies are sporting big pink blooms and today’s rain (Wednesday) seems to have encouraged them to “bust out” all over the place.

Is there anything that smells better than trees, grass and flowers after a summer rain? This time of year, a stroll through the yard is my best stress reducer. In between articles, I try and get outside, even if it is only for a few minutes. Walking along the river does wonders for my spirits and even inspires me when it’s time to write this column.

I inherited peonies at our home in Concord years ago and have always loved them, but my attempts here to plant and actually have them bloom never seemed to work out. I was rescued from my inept attempts by friend Sara, who showed up one day and planted a row for me. “The trick,” she said, “is to barely cover the plant roots with soil.” She was right because ever since I have had some beautiful flowers in the front yard all because of her.

Gardening is not one of my talents, I’m afraid. Nevertheless I still make the attempt nearly every year. I have given up on the vegetables though. By the time I work up the energy to plant, it is usually too late, so I rely on friends who plant too much!! Works out pretty well as we usually have lots of fresh green beans (thanks to Bob David) and tomatoes for the table in the summer months.

When the kids were around, we had a big garden and I froze, or canned loads of stuff every year. It helped to have the “slave” labor to help with the weeding, picking and fixing though.

These days I buy my goodies from the farm markets. Now I am looking forward to some Michigan strawberries. They should be appearing at the markets pretty soon and they taste so much better than the imported varieties you usually find at the stores.

Strawberry shortcake is a must-have dessert this time of year.

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