April 25, 2020

Restoring a pathway

The property we live on was gifted to me by my maternal grandparents. They were good people and I say that not because they were my people, but because I've lived long enough to meet bad people. 

My property joins the lot my cousin got when our grandparents were giving. There is one stone fence that encloses both properties. We tore through a section to create a shared lane instead of using the more dangerous farm track our grandfather used for his Allis Chalmers WC tractor. 

The old farm track ran north from the road, above the old home place. It then turned and went west to the end of my property, south to the property line, and then east to reconnect after making the loop. 

Parts of the farm lane have become difficult to traverse. One of my plans for my retirement is to clean up the old track and use it for a private walking trail. The last uncomfortably strong wind storm we had made that job bigger. Now instead of taking the old mower along the track to cut down the briars, I need to take the Stihl out for some serious woodcutting. 

It looks like a lot of work but it doesn't need to be (and won't be) done in a single day. Such it is in the country. There's always work to be done, but there's always time to stop and enjoy being outside and in the woods. 

The old farm track will be cleared. I may even choose a secluded spot to take some stones along the stone fence and fashion myself a little bench so I can sit and enjoy the birds. And breathe. My grandparents would like that. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor

April 20, 2020

A young holly tree

Spring is the best time of the year to go walking around the property to take stock of what's new, what's old, what needs to be done, and what's a surprise. I found the surprise - a new young holly tree. I've marked it so it doesn't get mowed off when we make a pass through the woods with the brush mower. 

It has a lot of growing to do and I plan to give it every opportunity to reach its full statue. I've seen the holly trees on James Island, Virginia, and they are one-hundred feet tall. My grandfather's holly trees were perhaps thirty to forty feet tall. All the younger trees on my property are surely the offspring of that pair. 

I hope to live a good many years yet. Maybe I'll get to see this little guy reach fifteen feet. I'd like that. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor

April 17, 2020

Patience rewarded - white lilac bloom

Growing up, my mother had a beautiful white lilac bush that grew beside a telephone pole. It just so happened that it was also at our extra parking space. You know the one - the space the teenager got to park their car in because the folks had the driveway proper. I didn't mind at all. They allowed me to have my own car so it was okee-dokee. 

I loved that white lilac. For one thing, it was the only white I'd ever seen. My grandparents had several shades of purple, but not white. Every year my mother and aunt would cut blooms for inside. Even my grandmother would sometimes cut a bloom to take home with her. 

When I moved to the manor in 1981, or shortly thereafter, Mom and I dug a start of the white lilac for me. It's been growing since then and finally - finally! - it has started to bloom. For only the second time ever, that old bush has a bloom on it. My partner never believed it bloomed white because it didn't bloom. I can't really fault him since "seeing is believing." 

I hope this is a harbinger of years to come. Enjoying spring blooms is a simple country pleasure I never tire of. Patience has been rewarded. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor

April 15, 2020

Unusual spring winds

This winter will always be remembered for the unusually strong winds. Winter on the mountain always brings a light but steady breeze. If one was to wake in the night and not hear the wind, it would be a strong indication that snow is falling. 

Wind and water are destructive on the mountain. The wind is a rapid and visible destroyer. You hear the sudden snap of wood and a thud as a branch hits the ground. Water is more insidious, washing away the precious topsoil grain by grain. Water can be stopped and channeled to do little harm, but not the wind. 

We have a few large limbs to cut up now, firewood for next year, brought by the wind. Strange how life plays out here. This particular tree was one I asked a cousin to help me cut down. He promised help, but it's a little late for that. 

We'll manage on our own, as we usually do.  

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor

April 13, 2020

A late entry on spring flowers

I don't know anyone who doesn't like daffodils. My grandparents loved them and had as many varieties as they could get their hands on. Most of my bulbs originated in their garden. 

Every year I watch for the first green tips to break ground. It usually happens in the sheltered spot in front of the eastern-most terrace or on the bank with full southern exposure.

The bank runs along the old driveway or the original driveway to my house. Back in 1981, my mother and I planted starts from her garden on the bank. It was intended as sort of a holding spot until I was fully moved and had flower beds prepared. But miss digging one daffodil bulb and you get more and more daffs. Not a problem. The bank is covered with daffs, daylilies, hosta, ajuga, snow glories, wood hyacinths, tiger lilies, and bluebells. 

Why they still grow there is a mystery to me. The soil is mostly clay and I've never worked in any enhancements. But every spring I eagerly watch and remember the time spent with my mom, playing in the dirt. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor