A Vermont Country Store Catalog Cover I Treasured This Summer

My favorite catalog published a cover photo that combined two themes prominent in my mind these past few months.

At a local park, I discovered a pair of Adirondack chairs – my favorite outdoor seating – far removed from the most populated paths. There I sat one entire afternoon, relieving stress as I overlooked the surrounding landscape. I hope to repeat the experience soon.

I’ve also reflected often these days upon my trips to New England over the years. Whenever I recall Vermont, I think of purplish hued mountains like these. Until I’m able to travel there once more, I’ll treasure catalog covers like these, and articles in Yankee Magazine. It’s changed over the years, but still retains the classic spirit of the Northeastern states.

A Late Summer Stroll Amid Open Fields

A starting point for a late summer stroll, this fence is lined with ripened thistle plants. The down lines the homes of American Goldfinches, those bright yellow birds often referred to as “wild canaries”.

Smoke Bushes – Reflect the Softness of a Summer Afternoon

My mom spoke of a smoke bush she knew of as a child. I never saw one till I was well into adulthood. Now there are a few I look for every summer, on lawns of my home town.

I discovered a collection of them this year at a horticultural research facility. It was a lovely day and I was in need of a walk to stretch my muscles and de-stress my mind.

I was grateful for the refreshing summer breezes on the moderately hot day and the billowy blooms of these unique shrubs. The rounded pink, puffy clumps seemed appropriate to the spirit of the weather and of my mood as I strolled the paths of the well planned, nature focused gardens.

My brief scan of information about them tells me they are related to the sumacs. Now that I know, I can recognize the relationship, but I likely wouldn’t have guessed.

Another shade of whimsical, wispy smoke bush blooms delights those who stroll the paths of a lovely, naturalized garden.

Petite Petals of Lovely Lobelia

Lobelia always reminds me of calico printed, 100% cotton dresses; summer afternoons spent watching my grandmother can tomatoes. There’s no cooler, more comfortable fabric on a hot summer day than pure, soft cotton. Yet, today, lightweight cotton blouses and dresses aren’t always easy to find.

Lobelia is a plant I discovered through a friend. Now I can’t live without at least one every summer; for the memories it triggers of fabrics and friends, and its own special beauty.

Sunlight Gilds Thunderbolt Hosta and Peeks Through Drooping Branches of Norway Spruce

Seated on the lawn on a recent muggy afternoon, this view made me think of cypress swamps and Spanish moss.

Perhaps that comparison is a stretch of my imagination, triggered by my wandering mind and the uncomfortable weather. I’ve never been to the south myself, to view such, to me, exotic plants. But the thought was pleasant.

Though the air feels saturated and solid, like it could be sliced with a knife, in the words of a former co-worker, “I’m not complaining about the muggy conditions. My snow shovel is hanging on its hook on the garage wall”. It’s got to be a good day.

Too Early for Falling Walnuts

I hope this walnut, accompanied by golden leaf doesn’t mean we will have a full crop of nuts to pick up this fall. Maybe there will be less full size ones later if they are falling when small and barely noticeable. We can only hope—though there were few if any nuts the past two years, so I suppose we are due.

Country legend says these trees produce a large crop every other year. From memory of a lifetime living with them, I think that adage is most often true, but I believe there are exceptions.

Readers familiar with walnut trees are welcome to share thoughts.

Geraniums – The Flower that Makes Us Think of Home

A clay pot filled with pretty, cheerful geraniums symbolizes home to many of us.

Geraniums seem American to me, but The Complete Language of Flowers by Sheila Pickles says they are found all over the world.

I always think of them as the most domestic of plants, their bright blooms that last all year cheering family and visitors from their spots on indoor tables and windowsills, in pots on doorsteps, or nestled in flowerbeds.

Sheila Pickles associates them with the Mediterranean “where they tumble out of terracotta pots and down painted stone walls, the very color of them creating a festive mood.”

Most people purchase fresh geranium plants each spring, but I have saved the roots over winter, hung them upside down in a cool place, and replanted them the following spring. I’ve also over-wintered them as houseplants, back when I had the space.

New plants can be started from cuttings too, if one has time to do so.

They’re generally carefree and easy to grow, and reward us well with their mood lifting color, whether we select traditional scarlet red, or the myriad pinks and whites available in today’s garden centers.

Eerie Sky After a Strong Thunderstorm With Damaging Winds

The muggy June 10, 2020 day turned into a scary evening for travelers dodging branches and homeowners worried about wind damage to buildings and trees, and power outages.

Seldom seen mammatocumulus clouds followed the thunderstorm, as a strange yellow-green and then pink glow bathed the landscape as if a color filter had crossed the sun’s face.

I haven’t heard of any tornadoes but the gust front held tremendous power. Perhaps it was a downburst?

Following are a couple more of the many photos I couldn’t resist snapping to record the rare skyscapes of the evening.

picture of mammatocumulus clouds
Sky and trees after the storm

picture of sky after storm
Another unique view of the clouds as they drift apart overhead, framed by tree branches that thankfully survived the wind.

I’m alternately fearful or fascinated by storms. Trees, which I love, suffered significant damage. I had to dodge limbs as I drove home, and many people are still without power 24 hours later.

I was a bit nervous as I took these pictures, as another bank of clouds threatened from the horizon, but I was so in awe of this sight I only see every few years, that I remained outside. Thankfully the cloud bank didn’t turn out to be another set of thunderclouds.

The cooler air the storm left behind made sleeping much more comfortable.

Periwinkle, Myrtle, Vinca Minor – Names for a Sweet, Charming, Little Purple Flower


Lines written in Early Spring

by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)


Through primrose tufts in that green bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths’

And ‘tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes


What a charming little poem about periwinkle, myrtle, vinca, whatever one calls the trailing vine with the simple, pretty bluish purple blossoms.

My mom referred to it as myrtle, the catalogs seem to call it vinca, though it differs from another non-trailing vinca now popular in garden centers.

The Complete Language of Flowers by Sheila Pickles mentions many former medicinal uses, and says it is one of the oldest of flowers.

The poem mentions of its trailing between primrose plants, and I always planted it in flowerbeds, to accent taller plants and keep down weeds.



Gold Wing Bear Visits the Drugstore

Parked next to this cute passenger, awaiting his driver, and remembered a great after-dark parade in my hometown many years ago.

Honda Gold Wings filed past for what I remember as most of an hour, lighting the summer night and delighting children along the route with the array of Teddies perched on the rear of thier bikes.

The tradition is apparently still alive and well.