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Bees, Weeds and Cedar Trees

Or what I did on my summer vacation.

Everyone is back to school today and the dog and I finally have a few minutes of quiet.  I've been wanting to write about this summer for a while and here's my chance.  We live in Minnesota but my husband and I grew up in Michigan and still have a lot of ties there including our parents and siblings and their families.  We both grew up in rural areas but while my house was in the country, there was a reasonably large town with an engineering college about 7 miles away.  That doesn't do much if you have no transportation but it does provide some economic stability for a community.  In contrast, my husband grew up in "town" in an area about 350 miles from my house.  There were about 750 folks living there as of the last census and the nearest town of any substantial size with a hospital and a Walmart is 32 miles away.  The region is economically depressed and has been for decades.  Through a crazy set of circumstances, we have ended up with a house and a bit of land 5 miles outside my husband's hometown.  It is a very different feeling to visit a place thinking I would only be an occasional visitor than when I realize I will probably end up living there as a permanent resident sometime in the future.  It's maybe a morbid thought but I'm struck by the fact that if I live to be an old lady there, I might be buried in the same cemetery as my in-laws, not anything I would have ever expected after living such a transient life to this point.  To say that I have mixed feelings about this possible future is like saying Denali is a hill.  Still, a lot can happen in ten years and the place has grown on me after spending five weeks there this summer.  So in the interest of ignoring the horse's teeth and making lemonade and all that, here are some cool bits about the place.

The south line of the property is literally on the 45th Parallel, halfway between the North Pole and the equator.  Ironically, I nearly live at that same latitude now several states west.  The house is on top of a hill surrounded by woods, mostly maple trees but quite a few cedar as well.  There is a creek that runs at the base of the hill behind the house.

The previous owners had many trails through the woods and they are nice for snowshoeing.  It is feels incredibly quiet compared to my busy subdivision but when you are actually being still and listening, the place is alive with sound.  The former lady of the house was quite a gardener and I spent a lot of my five weeks weeding and cleaning up flower beds that hadn't had much attention for about two years.  As I pulled up bucket after bucket of tiny but firmly rooted maple seedlings, I was surrounded by birdsong, buzzing bees, the occasional cow mooing, far away traffic on the state highway, Sunday church bells, my dog barking at the commotion from the pack of pitbull puppies being raised on the other side of the woods, my husband's chainsaw, the running creek, the prehistoric cry of sandhill cranes, and underneath it all, the thunderous rumble of the faraway artillery from the weekend training of the National Guard.  Weeding is an act of meditation and observation and leaves a great sense of satisfaction looking back at completed portions of the flower beds.  I left some of the flowering weeds there because the bees seemed to be particularly enthusiastic about some of them.

The top of the garden is a mixture of raspberries and tiny white roses.

I became pretty attached to the garden and was sorry to leave just as the sedum and mums were beginning to flower.  I did manage to find a much quieter visitor to the garden than the bees.

Someday I will live there long enough to start veggies in the greenhouse.  I'm not so enthusiastic about chickens but there is a place for them if we need it.  It still needs to be cleaned out from the previous occupants but I'm writing about the good things so we'll discuss that another time.  The space originally used as a veggie garden in front of the greenhouse needs substantial work and that's for another summer too.  The neighbor's cows are right beyond the tree line.

The weather was gorgeous with cool nights and days warm enough for shorts but not requiring air conditioning.  The air smells like cedar and the mint planted behind the back stairs.  I have other things to write about summer but I'll save them for another day.

I'll leave this entry with a picture from down the road in a neighboring farm field. kalliel, I thought of you when I saw them and had to take a picture.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2014 03:14 pm (UTC)
Those woods are gorgeous!!
Aug. 27th, 2014 03:17 pm (UTC)
I wish I was going to be there to see them in fall color. They were just starting to turn when we left.
Aug. 27th, 2014 08:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, this looks so peaceful and gorgeous. What a lovely place to be able to go to. And the idea of a veggie patch is great - nothing quite like growing your own produce - and eating it! We have a couple of chickens and I love 'em. Love that we have fresh eggs everyday and all our food scraps go to them.

Ha! I just spotted that wee frog on the flower. (frog?) :)

Thanks for sharing. (and yay "The Church" - love their music).
Aug. 27th, 2014 11:24 pm (UTC)
I love vegetable gardening. I have one here at home in Minnesota and I love to put up food for having over the winter too. When we end up back in Michigan long-term, I'll be able to compost and we probably will get chickens. The coop is actually really nice. The soil is super sandy so weeding and digging are really easy unlike in the clay that we have here. Winters are long there though and the area is pretty isolated so I just worry about what you do if you end up with a health emergency. I feel better about it all after staying this summer. It will also be a lot to keep up with when mobility becomes harder, especially if I end up on my own. I feel better about that now too. I'm glad we went. We're going back for three weeks in December so I'll get a feel for winter, too. I like the pace of life there.

The little frog is a gray tree frog. The coneflower blossoms were my eye level so it had climbed quite a ways up to get to its perch.
Aug. 28th, 2014 01:19 am (UTC)
It looks lovely and serene. Great shots of the flowers. I have gardened for 30 years and I've never encountered a frog on a flower. Love it
Aug. 28th, 2014 01:22 am (UTC)
I was so surprised when I realized it was there. I love gardening...you never know what you might see.
Sep. 3rd, 2014 09:38 pm (UTC)
LJ! You are falling down on the job! It did not properly ping me back on this!! Which was potentially very tragic, because I love everything about this entry; autobiography and images and that confetti of beehives and all! <3333 I love how multicolored they are! Thank you for sharing all of this. <3 I want to visit the UP very, very badly.

(Also, I hope you don't mind, but I am taking the liberty of friending you, because I feel like this should have happened literally years ago.)

Sep. 3rd, 2014 10:09 pm (UTC)
I just loved that they were all those cheerful colors. Little bee condos. There were so many different kinds of bees I saw while I was weeding and I was glad to see they seemed to be doing well. The UP is really great, especially if you like Lake Superior and lots of woods. I grew up about 20 minutes from Lake Superior and am madly in love with that lake. It's so changeable and wild. The house we were at with the bees is in the northern lower peninsula and parts of that are really pretty too. We're on the side closer to Lake Huron so not as many tourists.

And Yay! Friends!
Sep. 5th, 2014 02:42 am (UTC)
Your summer place is absolutely glorious. It made me think of my old place.

You're currently living in a city/town then?
Sep. 5th, 2014 11:38 am (UTC)
We live in a subdivision in the suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul, a fairly large city. We have a great yard where we live now that is a small lot with (luckily) some big old trees. My vegetable garden is in the yard at my house here in the city and I was glad to get back to it to see what had grown. How are you doing with being in a new place?
Sep. 5th, 2014 09:28 pm (UTC)
We're okaaay. Not quite "settled in" as this place is temporary so there's this feeling of ... I don't know how to describe it ... staying in a hotel? Floating? But oh, I miss my old place so very much esp the huge surrounding area, the trees, the birds ( I don't miss the snakes though lol ), the much cooler temp.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )


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