Enchanted Summer 2013
Even as I was daily learning new aspects of trikonasana from each of my four teachers at Yog Peeth in Rishikesh, India, my wee heirloom tomato and poblano plants were poking their first sprouts through the soil in Toquerville, Utah. My mum, Maureen, started the little fellas from seed in her office.
By September those same sprouties were standing 8 ft tall and had escaped upwards and outwards, through the 1/4” squares of hardware cloth which surrounds the entire garden (including the floor). Beflowered limbs reached skywards recklessly, striving for excellence, unawares of the lurking dangers of first frost…
The simple joy and serenity afforded me by my mornings in the garden came as a pleasant, unexpected surprise to this sailorette. The addition of three little chickens to the atmosphere amazed me also. Those girls had me falling over laughing so often they were like little clown gurus!
I had many visitors between March and October; all wonderful. Some old friends, some new friends, some couch surfers who became newest friends. The lovely Miss Kelly Marie looked after the well being of all involved for two weeks while I floated down the Brown Colorado River on a baggage raft for a dory trip, a privilege for which my adorable friend Otey is responsible. Ote is the most elegant dory “boatman” (boat-woman) I ever did see. In her flowing skirt, long white gloves and straw hat adorned with an enormous, red hibiscus flower, she deftly negotiates the rapids and powers through the flat water as though she were not a petite slip of a lady.
Upon my return we built a fancy new movable chicken coop, also completely rodent proof, which would be the girls’ home in Kanab in Gracie’s back yard for the winter. The girls had, thus far, been living in “the gypsy coop” which cost me zero dollars and was put together from my lumber scrap pile and included a few blankets slung over the top…While it was adequate, it was not rodent proof (a big problem) and not mobile.
You think I’m exaggerating the rodent issue don’t you? Well believe this: the pack rats and squirrels together consumed/squirreled away the better part of a 25 lb bag of expensive, organic, small milled laying pellets before I got a grip on the situation! Shooting the “Creature” in the butt with my wrist rocket had precious little effect on the bugger who returned hourly despite my efforts at barraging his thoroughfares. Ah, but redemption was had when he brazenly entered the fancy new coop and we were able to trap him inside it! We relocated him several miles away. He must have been the gang leader as no “creature” tried his luck with the chicken pellets thereafter.
I used the appellation “creature” for these enormous ground squirrels who have reeked a certain amount of serious havoc to my house and surroundings. They can burrow at an astounding speed. During a summer that I was in Greece they burrowed all the way under my concrete pad (house foundation) and came up through a patch of dirt beneath my shower; randomly chewing on this and that inside my house…Once they had cleared the way all manner of rodent then had easy access to investigate the contents of my house, which they did, merrily gnawing on this and that as they went.
In June, when it hasn’t rained for 2 months, anything green will do! That is how my garlic, rosemary, thyme, mint and oregano were munched, one mouthful per night until they could no longer survive. Each night until a plant’s demise, some rodent would take a bite, having forgotten that he didn’t actually like the taste, spit it out and be on his way. I had planted these outside my safe garden thinking that the critters didn’t appreciate these particular flavours. Well, now I know better.
The feral cats I agreed to take to balance my rodent problem, arrived in an inadequate cage at the most dramatic time of year. Monsoons ready to burst but not quite…the environment of this two week period is comparable to a giant pimple; 120*F in the early afternoon following a long morning of very overhead sun; suddenly large cumulus clouds gather and the atmosphere fills with energy; lightening and thunder ensue along with tremendous gusts of wind. It is a most dramatic and exceptionally beautiful time BUT the precipitation doesn’t actually come and cool things down YET! After approximately two weeks of threats the rain will finally reach the earth instead of evaporating at 12000 ft (I made that up btw but something to that effect is, in fact what occurs). The pimple pops. Relief is felt by all as, at last, the cool moisture soothes everything that has been parched for months. My heart made me release the cats after 6 days and I never saw hide nor hair of them again…
On the topic of water, I saved a whole bunch of it last summer with the implementation of the toilet with a view. Having acquired sufficient information from the Humanure Handbook, the significant amount of flush water I saved which went, instead, to my garden was nothing short of wondrous. Wonder how people who live in the desert can bear to flush all that water away needlessly….
Also new to my realm was the delicious and healthy practice of lacto-ferments. Suddenly, a fascinating, novel solution to the dilemma of dealing with the occasional overabundance from the garden. I also started a new life form in sourdough starter named Enrique who produced wonderful, tangy loaves which I baked in my new oven, courtesy of dear friends in Boulder, Utah.
A whole new realm of food is now entering my life; “enlivened beverages” such as water kefir, kombucha, ginger beer plus all manner of fermented foods. My health is better than it has been in years and I feel that this is a discovery I am motivated to share with anyone interested…
So, heads up, when I return home in April sharing all this knowledge is exactly what I intend to do. See you then!