Adventures with Youngsters

On June 21, summer will officially begin, but you’d never know it by today’s temperature.  It’s 1:00 pm and the temperature on this 6th day of June is hovering somewhere between 46° and 48°, depending on which weather app you check. The weatherman predicts we’ll break the record low for this day.

It’s been a welcome rainy spring to put an end to our drought so we aren’t complaining. We’ve had days of beautiful New England spring weather in-between storms, enough to be satisfied, especially since our goal for this summer is to become better acquainted with everything our area offers…. often through the eyes of children.

Wentworth Marina by the Sea

We no longer own boats, but a stop at the Wentworth Marina by the Sea in New Castle with the grandchildren was one our first spring adventures. What a blast to let the little ones wander up and down the docks, watching boats come and go, including the excitement of the marine police arriving to check the place over. A stop here would hardly be worth it without a relaxing lunch at The Green Bean, outdoor dining while answering 100 little questions, between bites of tasty pulled pork sliders, about boats, birds, water, and rigging.  “What is that spinning thing on top of the masts?” “That’s the wind speed indicator…” “Why do they have them up there?”  Fun, fun, fun!

The Green Bean - Pull Pork Sliders with cheddar cheese and red onions

We’re thrilled to support the wonderful outdoor Exeter Farmers’ Market once again this spring, especially on the warmest days when we can follow-up with homemade strawberry popsicles or the best local ice cream, but that’s only when the grandchildren accompany us. Yes, we all had a popsicle on this day!

Strawberry popcicles - Exeter Farmers' Market

Watching the Phillips Exeter crew teams practice on the Squamscott River is something we stopped to watch for the first time. That was another new adventure for us thanks to keen interest by these little folks.

Grands on the Squamscott River

Our local school crew teams in Virginia were nationally ranked and these crew teams are tops in the nation, according to their website. So much fun to watch… especially through the eyes of children and also after reading The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Highly recommended!

I’ve been in working hard in the garden in-between rain showers but I’ll soon be back in earnest. A warming (or hot) trend is approaching for the weekend and I’m ready. Stay tuned.

Pure and Simple…

Parenting is a tough job. From the the daily grind of those difficult early years to the nana-and-finnchallenging and often stressful teen years, it is perhaps the hardest but also the most rewarding job there is. However, time passes and before you know it, children are grown and out the door…all four in my case! Eventually the circle of life begins again as babies are born to a new generation…. as it happened again for me two days ago when I became ‘Nana’ for the 9th time to a healthy baby boy.

I’m not sure how a 9 lb. bundle of joy can make the sun shine brighter and the worries of a caustic presidential election and the cruel hardships of the world melt into the background, but he has done just that. Becoming a grandparent brings us closer to our own offspring as they go through the same challenges and concerns we once faced, all enveloped by a shared pure love for their children.

Little number 9. Parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents are ready and waiting to be a part of his life and rearing very soon. We will be his role models, his teachers, his confidants, instilling kindness, respect for the environment, love of learning, and so much more. It does take a village….

Hayride to the Pumpkin Patch

Climb aboard the wagon, find a good spot on a bale of hay, squeeze between your grandchildren, and let the tractor take you away…. over hills, through the cornfield, past the pond, beneath the murder of crows that were startled in the corn, to the tangled vines of a pumpkin patch…. acres of pumpkins and gourds.

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Two tractors and four wagon loads from our grandchildren’s preschool were ready for the bumpy expedition that twisted and turned through the fields.

hayride

Parents and grandparents, siblings and more, all armed with cameras and smart phones fanned out across fields to help youngster find the perfect pumpkin, all shapes, sizes and colors, and to capture that moment with a photo.

pumpkins!

Me included…

 perfect pumpkin

pumpkin

A perfect pumpkin for us and small enough for a little tyke to carry….

Room for all

Then the bumpy journey back up to Farmer Zach’s Farm to visit the cornfields in search of the best and most colorful ears of corn.

pumpkins

Ahhhh…. what an adventure!  Making fall memories with little people…

Summer Solstice and Father’s Day, All Rolled Into One

Mr. Gardener's hobby Today, June 21, is the Summer Solstice, the longest day and the shortest night of the year.  Humankind has known about the relationship between the earth and the sun since the dawn of time and today, as in days of yore, it is still celebrated with bonfires all around the world. Early pagan couples leaped across the flames, believing that their crops would grow as high as they could jump.  There will be no bonfire or leaping in Gloucester today but with the bit of extra sunlight, we can take a Father’s Day peek at my mister gardener’s vegetable garden.

vegetables

We have all heard and read much about sustainable gardening becoming more mainstream in the last few years but there are plenty of gardeners who have forever followed this philosophy.  Guidelines govern what sustainable or green gardening means but in simple words, it means a garden should be part of its natural surroundings and it should exist in harmony with the environment and the rhythm of nature.  My mister gardener built his garden from the soil up by amending with his compost and nourishing it with gifts from horses, chickens and the city of  Yorktown’s compost.  Wastes from the garden are composted and recycled into the soil.  He uses as few chemical resources as possible and he is learning about and using alternatives more each year, such as the principles of integrated pest management.

There is no landscaping rule that says a vegetable garden can’t be attractive or be aGarden ripe for Father's Day part of the total landscape.  Around his vegetable garden, he designed and built a handsome picket fence complete with two gates and an arbor.  Knock Out roses in three shades grace the sunniest side and apple trees bear fruit on the far side.  Inside his garden, friendly wide paths of organic pine needles lead you to the heart of the operation where he shares residency with a family of tolerant bluebirds.

Vegetable gardening for him is reconnecting to the Earth and every swing of the hoe is a satisfying exercise. Just strolling through his well-tended oasis brings a bit of serenity to visitors, but most importantly, these delicious and varied vegetables sustain us all summer.  Is there anything like the taste of a red, ripe garden tomato, still warm from the summer sun?Digging potatoes

Mister gardener and I both agree that the most rewarding aspect of the vegetable garden is passing on the knowledge to the next generation.  Last weekend our 5 year old granddaughter visiting from Ohio was astonished to discover that potatoes grow underground.  The look on her face as she dug and gathered potatoes for our evening meal was priceless.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

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