Dogwood Winter

Dogwood blooms

I failed to take the hint. Admiring the Dogwood blossoms on my way to church made me think they were a bit early. Don’t they usually bloom at Easter time? Easter is almost two weeks away. However, not having John’s folks to remind me I just admired the dogwoods and that was it.

It snowed on March 12 and then a week later it was summer time – well almost. Daffodils bloomed in late February and our Bradford Pear tree budded out as well. Tulips were beginning to pop up.

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This picture was taken prior to the March snow.

after.freeze

The day after the snow the blooms were burned from the cold.

Surveying the yard, I found a cluster of purple tulips. What a delight!
Thank you, God, for the promise of spring. How did these tulips burst in bloom when others have not even come out of ground? It is all in the timing, the angle of the sun, the protection of plants around them. You see these bulbs were surrounded by bushes that absorbed the frost. Also, they were exposed to the first rays of the sun to warm them as they struggled to shine. They were close to the house which provided shelter.

Lord help us to seek you as these tulips sought the sun. May we stay close to the protection and encouragement of others and stay under the shadow of the almighty.

Playing golf in 80-degree weather in March is unusual even in Georgia. Time to put away the winter clothes. After ten zillion trips down the basement stairs to the cedar closet and back up for another load I was exhausted. Contrary to my husband’s opinion, I do not have that many clothes or shoes. I just can’t carry much at a time. Sweaters, sweat pants and boots packed away. Must confess, I was so tired, didn’t finish putting up winter shoes and boots – they are still on table in closet waiting to be placed in boxes. But at least they are downstairs.

Yesterday, April 6,  the high temp was 45 degrees. It was then I realized – it is Dogwood Winter. My in laws were the prognosticators of seasons. They would have warned me not to put winter clothes away too soon. You need to wait until Dogwood Winter and of course Blackberry Winter. When the Dogwood trees bloom, it will turn cold and when the blackberries bloom even though many times in mid-May – we will get a cold spell. They did not need a weather app.

Just like us – we kind of stagnate in our mundane life, complaining about cold weather then we receive a few warm days, or even hot days, and we complain about the heat. So, it gets cold again. We just can’t be happy. What is going on? Does God really know?

Please don’t let my blueberries die when it possibly frosts tonight. They are loaded with blossoms.

John’s dad always said if the wind is blowing the frost won’t hurt the plants.  May it be so ! God sends the rain and snow to water the earth and cause it to bud and flourish. He knows what he is doing.

He also sends his word to us. It will not return to him void. Can he trust me to use his word to encourage, comfort and challenge those I encounter? Am I as concerned about sharing his love as I am about my flowers and garden?

Don’t forget Blackberry Winter is yet to come!

Isaiah 55:8-11 (New International Version)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.


							

How to Make Nana’s Sweet Pickles

cukes-lime

Soaking in Lime

Chopping cucumbers to make sweet pickles, I realized “when I am gone no one in the family will continue this tradition.” My husband’s mom canned her nine day sweet pickles and my husband and our sons could finish off a pint at a meal.

A lady in my husband’s first church made the best sweet pickles and gave me her recipe. When my mother-in-law came to visit I was anxious for her to try my pickles. She bite into a pickle and shrieked while squinting, “Whooooo, they are good.” Maybe a little too much spices or vinegar???

Over the years I fine-tuned the recipe and now each summer I make Mrs. Wages Lime Pickles to the delight of husband, sons and now grandson.

The next Sunday at lunch with my son and his family, I related my sentimental feeling about no one carrying on the tradition of making pickles.

My grandson  Cameron replied with no thought to missing me, “Nana, that is no problem. We can just look up the recipe on the internet!”

So, this prompted me to help my grandson find my recipes “on the internet.”

Mrs. Wages Lime Pickles

  • 7 lbs medium-size pickling cucumbers
  • 1 cup Mrs. Wages® Pickling Lime
  • 2 gal water
  • 2 qt Mrs. Wages® Pickling & Canning Vinegar or other commercial white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 8 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs. Wages® Pickling & Canning Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs. Wages® Mixed Pickling Spice

Wash cucumbers. Remove 1/16 -inch from blossom end and slice crosswise. Mix pickling lime in water. Aluminum containers should not be used for the lime solution. Soak cucumbers for 12 hours or overnight in the lime water, stirring occasionally. Rinse 3 times in cool water and soak 3 more hours in ice water.

In a bowl, mix together vinegar, sugar, and salt until dissolved. Remove cucumbers from final ice water soak. Drain slices. Pour syrup over top. Let stand for 5 to 6 hours or overnight. Add pickling spice to taste.

Drain syrup off cucumber slices into a saucepan. Simmer for 35 minutes. Pack cucumber slices into hot quart jars. Pour boiling syrup over slices to cover and leaving 1/2 -inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust lids and process pints for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes, using boiling water bath method. (I don’t process my jars – they seal fine if packed in hot sterilized jars and last for years.)

Finished product

Finished product

cam-banaimg_9541

 

So here you go Cameron, it’s on the internet.  I hope you find a wife one day who will make you some of Nana’s sweet pickles. It is truly a labor of love!

How to Garden in a Drought

It is so dry. According to the National Weather Service we are in a severe to extreme drought. We have had a few brief sprinkles of rain in the last three weeks. Our grass is not growing, but our garden continues to thrive thanks to a layer of wood chips.

tomatoes

We were introduced to Back to Eden Gardening several years ago by friends in Indiana.  We already had a garden spot and spread a load of mushroom compost on the ground and covered it with about four inches of wood chips.  Our garden that year was phenomenal.  We had very few weeds, no need to fertilize or water. We replenish the wood chips each fall.

This summer of drought has been the real test. Although some of our vegetables like cucumbers and potatoes are slowing down, others are still producing a bounty.

20160806_081136cucumbers

peppers

Fortunately, we put a layer of wood chips around our blueberries

blueberry plants a few weeks ago and have had a bumper crop.

 

Our strawberries are still blooming!

strawberry

I even found a man in my okra.

man.in.okra

So thankful for the fresh vegetables and my husband to help me gather the crops.