July

 

Raising the

flag

on

Rabbit Hill!

Happy 4th of July!


Monday, July 1st, 2019

A dome of yellow hot settled around us these last few days, just as July came calling.  We're half way through summer, and the next two months in Georgia might not be pretty.  It can get hot here and very humid.  This is how I already feel about it.  Notice the metalic sheen.

Several years ago when we lived in Augusta temperatures reached 108 degrees one summer.  I was driving a small Volkswagen truck with no air conditioning, to summer art camps in the county that also had little or no air conditioning.  It didn't go well, and I didn't keep that job. 

Summer In July

But that was a long while ago, and we've learned better how to regulate that kind of heat.  We are a little more cautious now than before.

There is a good reason things in the south slow down in July and August.  Heavy heat and humidity make for heavy shoulders and limbs.  Breathing slows down and gets shallow; and heaven help you if you forget to drink plenty of liquids. 

As a child my family and I drove for two days each summer from the cool mountain air of Appalachia to see alligators and rattle snakes, and visit small orange juice stands with soda fountains and jungle posters and to vacation for a week in sunny Florida.  The car was not air conditioned, not coming nor going.  The windows were all open, of course, blowing in plenty of hot air.  

The paradise part of those trips was when we stopped at a roadside stand to eat a huge, bright red, cold slice of watermelon.  I was five years old, and no one cared how much it dripped or ran down our arms.  

Watermelon has never been more sweet, nor the seeds as black.        

I have a special drink that I fix during this season that keeps me alive in the same way as that watermelon, though not quite as joyfully.  Here it is:

100 per cent fruit juice of some kind (my favorite is apple)

Coconut water

A sugar syrup I make from celery seed

The celery seed syrup is light and adds such a refrehing taste to the mix; and, of course, a little sweetening, which I rarely turn down.  It's the secret ingredient no one suspects.  

Sometimes I add a small amount of iced tea if I want to finish off a pitcher, but I go easy on that.  Tea removes water rather than replenishes it.  

I only add a small amount of these ingredients to a tall, pretty container with a floral-printed paper straw, then add lots and lots of water.  I'm mostly after the water.

There now, this afternoon I will sit back in my green rocking chair with a hat and paper fan, while each little cell in my body puffs up with rejuvinating H2O. I'll think about how grateful I am for air conditioning, and about that cold watermelon, almost certain I'll make it through another Georgia summer. 

Watermelon

"The true southern watermelon is a boon apart, and not to be mentioned with commoner things.  It is chief of this world's luxuries."

Mark Twain, author/humorist

Until next time,

The Head Rabbit

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

It was just me and the crickets this morning; and that was fine with me, just fine.  I was picking blueberries again, enjoying a minimalist kind of Independence Day, and thinking about how the outside needed a good clean-up.  Summer gets a little overgrown if you just let it do its own thing.  The apple mint was all over the place, the petunias were mostly brown in the heat, and the birdbath was full of blueberries knocked down by my friends, the Squirrels.  What started out in the spring as crisp and moderate was now not as lively and proud.  It was spilling out and drooping over.  "Isn't that what happens to all of us?" I thought to myself.  

   

Garden Gloves

Switch Grass

So while My Husband considered the state of the world on this historic day, I found my gloves and clippers and took to the weeds.  

It was still early in the day, and a constant, moderate breeze kept me cool while I trimmed away what seemed overdone, and pulled up enough green growth to be able to see the white gravel again.  Much better. 

It was good work, and by the time the sun was getting too hot, I was ready for a break.  I cut back the lemon verbena and brought it inside to wash and dry for winter's teas, leaving the garden behind me neat and orderly.   

I've cleaned up many small garden plots in my time, put up make-shift fences, arbors, dug holes for fruit trees, built scarecrows, and invested in metal yard art, all of it "beautiful in its time."  But now I've noticed a slight tilt to my aim, a subtle off-center attitude.  You see, over time I added more and more projects until my head was always down, never up; and I have missed my head being up.  Up is good, it keeps me healthy; and with all the directions I wander in, it's a good idea to keep moderation in mind as I go.  

That's why I've had the word "simplify" rolling around in my head for several months.  I know the word is popular now, but I found it first, all the way back to when I was 15 years old.  If I had a "word for life" that would be it. 

So here's how I propose we do our gardens in order to maintian balance: 

1.  Any color of flower is OK as long as it's red.

2.  Only one fence per back yard, and only two orphan panels.

3.  Have nothing that spreads faster than you can run.  That includes mint and grape vines.  

4.  Include at least one chair so you can sit and watch things like dragonflies and praying mantis.

5.  Consider sweeping the grass to save time. 

 

Ok everyone, heads up!

Dahlia

"How difficult it is to be simple."

Vincent van Gogh, artist

Until next time,

The Head Rabbit

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Pies-a-Plenty

Oh the wonder of a pie made from scratch!  A ball of buttery dough rolled out into a thin lopsided circle, placed in a tin or ceramic plate, berries or apples or cream filling on top, maybe another crust on top of that....and then the magic of a hot oven.  

Before time could come completely loose from its moorings this month, I decided that a blueberry pie was in order for July.

I have, you see, what I optimistically call my "Pie-A-Month" schedule. It came about when I noticed a few years ago that pie-making in my kitchen was beginning to slack off.  It was beginning to, do I dare say it, feel outdated and maybe even silly.  It was getting easier and easier to say to myself, "What are you doing? There's a more efficient way." 

About that same time, I read an article by a woman who visited several Appalachian grandmothers to watch them make bisuits and learn the secret of this legendary southern staple.  But when she began to ask them about their recipes and how they put it all together so perfectly, their reply was, "Oh, we don't do it that way anymore.  We get our biscuits out of a can."

Say it isn't so.   

Well, I knew I didn't want to see that happen here at Rabbit Hill, not with biscuits and not with pie either. "It's not too late," I said.  "I can fix this sorry path I'm on." 

Even so, the temptation to update my ways was strong. Like a lost soul, I had to reach the bottom.  After trading in first my oh-so-southern buttermilk chess pie and then my Christmas pie in favor of store-bought versions, I sat down one summer afternoon with pie integrity on my mind and wrote "January - Chocolate Mint."  I could already feel the adrenaline. 

It didn't take long before I had a pie for each month of the year, according to fruits in season and the expected weather, etc.  August was peach, October - apple, and pecan pie for December.  That would only be 12 pies a year, not so hard.  

My mother used to make the best pie crusts of anyone I knew.  Her specialty was coconut cream pie, so light, with just the right amount of coconut.  She grew up making pies and other such standards, so it was no big deal to her.  I learned to copy her recipe somewhat, but as daughters everywhere say, something was still missing in mine.  Maybe it was the Martha White flour, or maybe it was her tiny hands that handled the dough just so.  Anyway, my new Pie-A-Month schedule would give me more practice, which I needed.   

I can't tell you in all honesty that I always get around to my designated pie for each month, but somehow that's OK with me.  Just having the schedule keeps it alive and I'm happy for the times when I do make a pie. 

I've learned to relax a little more because I have a new way to see ordinary life, and my Pie-A-Month schedule is a good example.   

There is a perfect sweet place I take aim at in all my daily plainness.  I'm usually the only one that sees it. It's peaceful and quietly pleasing, and I'm drawn to it like blueberries to buttercrust. I don't always reach it, but I try. Always I can keep trying. . . 

. . . and then what falls through the cracks can be left for another day.  

Until another day,

The Head Rabbit

Pie-A-Month Schedule

January - Chocolate Mint

February - Sweet Potato Pie

March - Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

April - Pie of Your Choice

May - Coconut Cream Pie

June - Key Lime Pie

July - Blueberry Pie

August -  Peach Pie

September - Buttermilk Chess Pie

October -  Apple Pie

November - Pumpkin Pie

December - Pecan Pie 


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Luna Moth

As far as The Boys are concerned, summer is nearing its end and will be officially over in only two more weeks.  Signs are posted, the word is out:  prepare yourself to go back to school. 

School itself has chopped off the tail of summer so that the full-faced freedom I felt as a child may not be as possible for The Boys as it once was for me.  I wonder. The end comes so quickly now, and I marvel that we've all been convinced that August is no longer a part of high summer. It's simply a back pocket in the year.  

But it is still high summer, so I'll take it as a good time to sit a spell and remember that long, mighty distance we've covered since late May.   

As I recall, we learned to swim, destroyed ghouls, and collected a miniature zoo full of insects, lizards, feathers, and frogs.  We shaved bark off of sticks, mended fences, and rode our kuterra* through the deep dark woods to scout out the enemy.  

We awarded ourselves several gold and bronze medals each for our stamina and for keeping our forts cleaned of leaf and pine needle debris and for keeping them mean and lean. We drank invisible potion to heal all the life-threatening wounds we received in battle.  We dug holes for no particular reason, made lassos, ate blueberries with pretzels, and got poison ivy. 

Lightening Bug

It was a good ride.  No doubt about it.  

Until next time,

The Head Rabbit

* I'm still trying to find out if this is a real word, or one made up by The Boys. 

Classifications for Animal Groupings

A scurry of squirrels

An ambush of tigers

A loveliness of ladybugs

A busyness of ferrets

A parliment of owls

A pandemonium of parrots

An army of frogs

A smack of jellyfish 

Snail in Shell


For the next part of July, go here.