A LEGACY OF LOVE…AND A WHOLE LOTTA NUTS!

My father loved pecans

And pecan trees

And my mother’s pecan pie.

I remember in college

Coming home for Thanksgiving

Going to the creek to pick up pecans.

There was always a bowl

To crack and pick

As we sat by the fire

In the winter.

Pecans even found their way

Into campaign brochures.

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Daddy planted a pecan grove

Rather late in life

We celebrated that fact

On his 85th birthday

With family

And former staff members.

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Now if you don’t know

You don’t just plant a pecan tree

And reap the harvest.

It takes at least 7 years

To produce.

So daddy must have known

That he would not live to see

The trees grow to maturity.

That someone would have to take up the mantle

And love it like he did.

And he did love it.

He loved, nurtured and respected

The land

And the life of a farmer.

But passing that to the next generation

Can be tricky…at best.

Thankfully, when the farms were divided

Among the three of us

My little sister Ann

Got the pecan grove.

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She has worked hard over the last nine year

To improve the pecan grove

To prune, mow and fertilize it.

Like daddy she has loved, nurtured and respected

The land.

She has gotten a good crop

About every other year.

Then came the rains last spring.

I mean RAIN.

Over 30 inches in a month.

Resulting in a bumper crop.

Over 7,000 pounds of pecans!

She’s been harvesting and processing pecans

Continuously for over a month.

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This week she’s coming to town to spread the love around.

Friends have pre-ordered hundreds of pounds

Of pecans

That will be turned into all kinds of treats

Over the holidays

And beyond.

Daddy & Mother would love what she has done.

And so do I.

Gail

PS

When Daddy was in office pecans were the standard gift for visiting dignitaries and Mother’s pecan pie was served at more dinners than I can count.  She would make a dozen or so at a time.  She was amazing.IMG_4132

This recipe was first printed in “Recipes from the Campaign Trail” .  A little campaign brochure with recipes from Mother’s kitchen and Daddy’s “recipe for good government”.  My how campaigns have changed over the years!

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SHIRLEY BELLMON’S PECAN PIE

3 Eggs    1 C. white corn syrup   1C. brown sugar   1 C pecans

1 unbaked pie shell

Beat eggs.  Add corn syrup and brown sugar to eggs and mix well.  Add this mixture to the pie shell.  Sprinkle pecans on top.  Bake at 350 for one hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NO WORDS

Most weeks

As I sit down to write

The words just flow.

This week

I seem to have no words.

At least not about gardening.

This week I want to tell you my story.

It’s an old story

Over 30 years ago.

But it’s an important one to me

And my life.

And it’s timely

With the devastating news

Of last week’s suicides.

I am among the millions of people

Who have suffered from clinical depression.

Most of my friends will be surprised by that.

I’ve never kept it a secret

But neither have I advertised it.

And frankly it was so long ago

Some of you may have simply forgotten.

I have not.

It was a very tough time.

I had had a miscarriage

The year before Elliott was born

So suffice it to say that I was a prime candidate

For depression.

Mine would likely be categorized

As postpartum depression

It’s depression

All the same.

I fought it for a long time.

By the time Elliott turned two

It became obvious

That I had to deal with it.

I distinctly remember where I was

When I told John I had to get help.

He was supportive from the beginning.

It wasn’t easy for either of us,

But he was there.

Fortunately for me a local therapist

Had recently spoken to the Stephen’s Ministry class

I was taking at church

And I liked her.

I knew where I could go for help.

I spent 6 months in one on one therapy

Took the anti-depressants the doctors prescribed.

And was involved with a therapy group for another 6 months.

Bit by bit

I got better.

She saved my life.

I have long felt

That therapy is the best gift

I’ve ever given myself.

Over the ensuing decades

I’ve gone back to therapy

For a tune up

As life has thrown me a few curve balls.

Why am I telling you this?

Most of the people who read this are friends.

But it’s going out there into cyber space

And that means people who don’t know me

Now know something very personal.

But that’s the point.

Those of us who have been there.

Have to tell our stories

Openly and honestly.

We are the very people

Who can make a huge difference in people’s lives.

We know the pain

And we know how help changed,

Really saved our lives.

If you can

Tell your story.

It may help someone

To get help.

And listen to people.

Really listen to them.

Encourage them.

Ask them if they need help.

Then help them find it

If they need it.

Without help

Think of all of the life

I and so many more

Would have missed.

Gail

 

 

 

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THE POWER OF A SEED

My mother loved to garden.

Her only problem was

That for much of her life

She lived in two different towns

At the same time.

Sometimes even two different states!

That made tending a garden

A bit of a challenge for her.

When Daddy finally retired

They added a greenhouse

To the house on the farm.

She would putter there for days.

I watched her tenderly

Prick out baby lettuce plants

And give them their own home.

Knowing that since they lived in the country

Chances were pretty good

That a mouse

Would likely enjoy more lettuce

Than she would.

But she kept at it

Year after year.

She died suddenly one summer

While we were all on vacation together

Leaving everything in her life

And her greenhouse

As something of a still life.

One glorious fall day

I walked into

Her untended playpen

To find it full of vines

Covering floor to ceiling

And loaded with dozens of

Baby Boo Pumpkins.

She had been gone

For over a year.

Yet the power of a seed

Brought her right back

To me and my memories

Of her in this place.

Perhaps that’s why

I have an endlessly

Growing collection

Of seeds.

They connect me to the past

And show me

The hope of the future.

Gail

“A seed neither fears light nor darkness, but uses both to grow.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo

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Filed under Fall, Farmers, Gardening, Gardening Mentors, Generations, Oklahoma Gardening, Pumpkins, Seeds, Uncategorized, Wise Women

STALEMATE

There are times

When even the patient gardener

Get’s really frustrated.

This month has been

One of those times for me.

This summer

My garden turned 17.

And like any teenager

It’s morphing

Into it’s adult stage of life.

At least I think

That’s what’s going on.

All summer long

I’ve been making notes

About the changes

I want to make.

Move the dahlias

To more sunlight.

Move some hydrangeas

To more shade.

Make room

For new rose varieties.

Or simply

Make room.

Things have gotten

Just a little crowded.

So I couldn’t wait

For Labor Day

To begin digging.

But summer has been

RELENTLESS !

Not the 100 degree

Kind of relentless

But days and days

In the 90’s.

Not the best

For plant relocating.

We are finally moving

Toward fall.

So watch out

And check my driveway

For plants needing

A more spacious home.

Gail

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than she seeks.”

John Muir

(Actually he used he but you know, the seasons are changing.)

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It’s Buggy Time

Late summer is buggy

In my garden.

I don’t really know why

But there are always good bugs.

Last year the Orb spiders

Were everywhere

Spinning their zig zaggy webs

To my amazement.

This year I’ve only had a few visit.

Though this guy did claim

The inside of my garden house

As his new home.

But Praying Mantis are

Everywhere.

One day I rescued seven

From the clippings

Headed to the compost bin.

Lately, my garden has taken flight.

I spent hours

Over two days

Watching this Swallowtail

Feast on tall garden phlox.

Thankfully, I hadn’t gotten around

To deadheading it.

An now I wouldn’t dream of it

Even though it’s really ragged.

Last Wednesday at Faith Farm we counted

THIRTEEN swallowtail caterpillars

On one bronze Fennel plant.

The Monarch butterflies

Are flitting everywhere

And then there is this new friend.

Actually they brought the whole tribe

Right to my garden.

I have hundreds on what else

But Cockscomb.

And we all know you can’t have just

One Cockscomb.

My research tells me

They are harmless Goldenrod Soldier Beetles.

Actually a bit beneficial

Dining on aphids and “other plant pests”.

All of this fluttering and flying and buzzing

Makes a sunny afternoon

Stroll through the garden

A joy.

But then

When isn’t a garden

A joy?

Gail

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” ~Author unknown

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Filed under Bugs, Butterflies, cockscomb, Community Garden, Dead Heading, Garden House, Gardening, Goldenrod Soldier Beetle, late summer garden, Nature, Orb Spider, Praying Mantis, Spider Web, Swallowtail Butterfly, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized

THE MYSTERY CONTINUES

A month or so ago

I wrote about a 12 foot tall sunflower

That had planted itself

At the front of the garden.

A sort of “magic bean” situation.

Over this month I have cut dozens

Of blooms from this tower of sunshine.

It simply makes me smile

Everytime I look it’s way.

But the blooms have faded

And it’s setting seeds.

So I decided that today was the day

To chop it down.

After church I went out my back door

Only to be stopped in my tracks

By something glistening in the sunlight

It was large – really large.

A very industrious spider

Had spun a web on the side

Of the sunflower.

But the really amazing thing

Was that it connected the other side

Of the web

To the cedar tree TWENTY FIVE FEET away.

I’m not making this up.

My neigbor Torry and John

Are witnesses.

We have no idea

How this was accomplished

Simply a miracle

In my own backyard.

It reminds me of something Elliott said last week

When we had all climbed the side of a mountin

To help H & H look for fossils.

Some in our group scoured a big area

While H & H just kept digging

And looking in a small space around them.

Elliott noted that looking closesly

Right in front of our eyes.

Revealed more and more.

Looking closely.

Slowing down to observe.

Delighting in the mystery of nature.

Time well spent.

Gail

” When one tugs at a single thing in nature they find it attached to the rest of the world.”

John Muir

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HITTING PAUSE

It happens every year

About this time.

After months of puttering

In my garden

I know exactly the things

I want to change.

Things I want to dig up

And move around

Or give away.

I have a running list

In my head

And another on paper.

I have a list of people

Who want certain plants

And another list of those wonderful souls

Who will take anything.

I’m excited to dig in.

Except…

It is still August.

Much like mid March.

You can do a lot of damage

This time of year.

So I’ve hit pause.

I’ve cleaned the garden house.

Ordered bulbs

And more bulbs.

Deadheaded

And, of course, there are weeds.

Sometimes it’s best just to stop

Perhaps sit

And wait

For the right moment in time

To come to you.

Gail

“Adapt the pace of nature – her secret is patience.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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OPTIMISM

You may have noticed

That I haven’t written much

Over the last 18 + months.

I could blame it on the pandemic

But that is really not the case.

On a glorious Sunday

In early February of 2020

I took a nasty fall

From my attic.

Thankfully I bounced off a refrigerator

And a car

Slowing my fall

To the garage floor.

Breaking

Well…a lot.

Don’t worry

With lots of good medical care

And support

I have recovered.

I will admit though, that I have not been

The cheeriest person of late.

Not the full blown depression

I have experienced

And written about

In the past,

But a kind of dullness

That is not me.

This afternoon

As I was planting what will

Hopefully be

A fall crop of peas

There it was

My old friend optimism.

I must be really optimistic

To be planting peas

In Oklahoma

In August.

Then I remembered this picture

That Kristina sent me yesterday.

Last summer

I taught my grandson, Henry

How to save marigold seeds.

He’s a quick study.

What better picture

Of optimism

Than a child

Holding a glass full of seeds.

Gail

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried,

but you’ve actually been planted.”

Christine Caine

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FRONT ROW SEAT

Something weird is going on

In my garden.

You may remember from year’s past

That I have an errant Hollyhock.

Instead of growing in the back of the bed

It keeps plopping itself at the very front of the border.

It has done this for several years.

Each of those years I have dug it up

And moved it to the back

Where tall things are supposed to live

In a traditional perennial border.

Yet, year after year

It has had a front row seat.

Imagine how pleased I was

When this spring it stayed put

In the back.

And then…

This happened.

A bird must have dropped a sunflower seed

In the exact same spot

Where the hollyhock grew.

I should have just pulled it

When it was little.

But my gardener’s curiosity

Always gets the best of me.

I had to let it grow

To see what it becomes.

Since I’ve never planted 12 foot sunflowers

I had no idea that it would grow

SO BIG.

Should I chop it down

Cutting it off from it’s moment of glory?

Can’t do that.

I can’t help but wonder

What is the lesson here?

What is it about this particular place

That always grows such giant plants?

Are they trying to tell me something?

Something I really need to learn?

Maybe the location has something to do

With getting my attention.

It might have gotten lost

Buried deep in the mass of Coneflower and Phlox.

It had to park at the front to be seen

And heard.

I wonder if we let this happens with people?

Do we get so busy that we let friendships

Get lost in the Coneflowers?

Gardens…the perennial teacher.

Gail

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” –Karl A. Menniger

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POPPY PLANS

Years ago,

When I designed

And maintained gardens

For other people,

I had a friend with a sandy spot.

We planted purple larkspur

And red poppies.

I have repeated that combination

In my current garden.

They are the star of my late May

And early June garden.

When they finish blooming

Seeds fall.

This pattern has repeated itself

Each year in this garden.

But…

One day I was walking the neighborhood

And saw a PURPLE poppy.

The generous neighbor gave me seeds

Then I ordered a few more packets of

Lauren’s Grape poppy.

This year

For the first time

I have PURPLE poppies.

They are divine.

Now I’m trying my best

To keep the red ones in the “red bed”

And creating an area just for the purple ones.

I know…I know

It’s an attempt to manipulate nature.

Not a smart idea.

After all birds and winds and who knows what else

Move these tiny seeds around the garden.

The organizer in me just has to give this a try.

I’m marking the color of wayward plants

With pink tape

Hoping to get them back into their assigned seat.

If Mother Nature will indulge me

This one tiny bit of control.

I promise after this

I’ll surrender!

Gail

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Filed under Garden Photography, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Larkspur, Nature, Oklahoma Gardening, Poppy, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized

IT’S MAY!

There’s a line

In the title song of Camelot

That rings in my head

This time of year.

“It’s May

It’s May

The lusty month of May.”

I’m pretty sure they were singing

About a garden.

Iris

Peony

And Roses

Are hitting their stride

Just in time for Mother’s Day.

So sharing seems like

The natural thing to do.

Thanks for coming girls.

Happy Mother’s Day

To every conceivable kind of mother.

Gail

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REUNION

On the evening of Dec. 31st

I received this text

From my friend Debra.

What ensued was sheer joy.

John & I signed up.

Then we both started spreading the word

To everyone we could think of.

Helping them get an appointment.

The result was

We received our first vaccination on Jan 4th

Which meant we were totally vaccinated

By the end of the month.

It felt like a miracle.

I was giddy to say the least.

Debra and I normally get together

For photo sessions in my garden

On a regular basis.

Needless to say

It’s been awhile.

We spent winter Wednesday mornings together

Over Google Meet

Doing things.

Most of them involved butter & flour & more butter.

Teaching each other to bake

Some tasty favorites.

Just as the time was arriving

For a safe real visit

The Polar Vortex hit.

With endless days in the single digits

And below

I wasn’t sure

There would be a spring garden

To share.

But nature is perhaps the greatest

Of all survivors.

So yesterday

We had a REUNION.

Even the 100% chance of rain prediction

Couldn’t stop us.

Debra came with camera in tow

And of course her famous

Chocolate Chip Cookies.

We hugged.

We talked.

We ate.

And through the mist

She captured early spring miracles.

She loves buds

And curvy lines

So this tree peony bud

Spoke to her.

It speaks to me on many fronts.

We are, like this bud,

Slowly emerging

From the darkests of winters.

With some part of us

All curvy and pink

And ready to party.

Her posts on Instagram @debrasuemitchell

Always include a quote.

“When the world wearies, and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.”

Minnie Aumonier

I hope if you are not vaccinated

You will have that chance soon.

And thank you to the Garfield County Health Department workers.

You have done such a remarkable job

Gail

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