I LOVE water walking at the Furman Aquatic Center in Ames!
Do other water parks beautify your experience with flowers the way Furman does?
A few weeks back, I was invited to lounge on a large porch under the shade of mature trees and drink tea with my friend Diane and her daughter Elizabeth. I can’t believe I missed taking a photo of THE PORCH, which is just too awesome for words, but I did snap just about everything else!
I met Diane and Elizabeth while I was working at Iowa State’s Reiman Gardens. Besides our common love of gardens, mother and daughter have a passion for reading, Diane is an author, Elizabeth is an artist with a masters in library science, and both love to travel. Now picture the large dining room table covered with table cloth, cloth napkins, an awesome dessert (made with blueberries picked from The Berry Patch Farm in Nevada) out on the front porch, iced tea and lemonade and a lazy afternoon to get caught up on so many of the things we love, and you have a perfect picture of summer!
Over the years, Diane has shared her own experience with me of doing a masters in mid life. She helped me believe I could do it too and several times sent me just the e-mail I needed to stay motivated. Our summer afternoon visit was a celebration of success and being women engaged in things we love.
I talked about a current read by Mary Catherine Bateson, daughter of anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. In Full Circles, Overlapping Lives: Culture and Generation in Transition, MCB introduces her experience of teaching at Spelman college as a white professor at a black college by emphasizing that we don’t need to go beyond our own doors to find the anthropological “stranger”. Even those we live closest to are never fully known, and we should spend our days celebrating that, looking at spouse or child with renewed awe as we realize there are worlds inside each one that we will never fully know.
Diane surprised me with the fact that she not only knows Spelman, but has a friend there! She put me onto her own current read, The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Later, at Borders, when I read the first page, I was hooked by the language of French author Muriel Barbery ( who must surely be a closet sociologist!) and the brilliance of translator Alison Anderson who faithfully bridged Barbery’s love of language into the English. Alas, I probably should have bought the book at Borders then and there and who knows, maybe they wouldn’t be going out of business! But I promised myself the reward of Hedgehog when I finally made it through my oral exam and found it at Ames Public library last week.
After our dessert on the porch, we wandered through the old, elegant house that exists nicely in the shade without air conditioning (at least the day I was there!) and into the garden to see Elizabeth’s latest passions. This is the creative soul who painted appliance boxes to look like the insides of flowers so children could see the world like Georgia O’Keeffe! She decorated Reiman’s Gourmet Garnish Garden with quirky kitchen tools and brought the Lorax into being for the children’s Dr. Seuss Doodling Garden!
Diane and other members of the family have done a lot of work on their backyard garden. I LOVE every little detail of a garden and I hope I listened politely while trying not to take “too many” pictures and act totally distracted by potatoes growing in bags, garden cloth covered paths and amazing varieties of tomatoes. Really, I guess I should warn people, “don’t expect me to carry on a cogent conversation when I am in the garden, because every insect and flower is calling to me!”
My memories of Summer Twenty Eleven, as my friend Lani calls it, will definitely include my summer afternoon with Diane and Elizabeth!
I wish I could find a way to describe how this garden made me feel the other night. I was driving home, it was hot, I was distracted…and then I came around the corner and WOW! A surprising shock of marvelous color! Normally I don’t like lots of different colors in one garden because it is easy for it to look busy rather than restful. This gardener’s key to success though is using blocks of the same plant and curving edges that make you feel like you are in an Impressionist painting!
I did a plant survey of Ames a couple of weeks ago to see who had the best and most interesting flower and vegetable plants. Little Walmart (as opposed to mega Walmart) on North Grand by the mall won my first prize!
It’s hot in the heartland today…95 degrees F at 2pm. My BFF and I went to the pool for a while, walked the lazy river, enjoyed the sun, and the sunny coreopsis around the pool.
When I lived in Indiana, there was a strawberry farm not far from our house. Back when life was “simpler” (is it simpler when you have a young child? hmm, I may need to rethink that statement!), I made it over there several times a season to pick berries. I’d make strawberry pie, strawberry freezer jam, etc.
Now it’s been years since I’ve picked strawberries. I keep thinking I’ll make it out to the Berry Patch near Nevada, IA, but it seems like July comes before you can blink your eyes anymore, and the strawberries are gone.
Not that I am saying there is anything wrong with red raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, mind you! But that first berry of summer just seems to elude me now.
Anyway, with all that in mind, I did make it over to HyVee and got enough berries for crepes on Memorial Day, so I guess summer hasn’t totally gotten away from me!
Met my best friend for Saturday morning breakfast a while ago. We luxuriated in the outside setting at Stomping Grounds in Ames, Iowa. She got this strawberry rose garnish on her brie plate and I had the perfect plate of bacon and eggs. We both like raspberry mochas, and the Stomping Grounds owner came out and made sure our quirky mocha idiosyncrasies were accommodated perfectly!
One of the first summers I lived in Iowa, people started talking about RAGBRAI this and RAGBRAI that. Whawhat?
Now I am proud to say that I can tell you that RAGBRAI is the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. And this year, I actually got to see the great…..hmmm, how to describe it???? Well, how about I just show you some pictures! It’s not a race, just lots and lots of bike geeks and friends and family riding and camping across 400 some miles of the great state of Iowa. Maybe some day I’ll be up to riding at least one segment of the great bike ride!
And here is our favorite RAGBRAI protector keeping everyone safe!
Somerset in north Ames can be thought of as a semi-new-urbanist development. You can go here to read about New Urbanism if you are so inclined, but it has to do with “promoting walkable, neighborhood-based development as an alternative to sprawl” according to the Congress for new Urbanism.
Many Ames-ites love The Cafe, a cozy restaurant that features a good variety of locally grown, in-season foods. The last time I went by there I saw what looked like a garden beside The Cafe and behind the gym. This new addition in Somerset remains a mystery to me…whose garden??? Whoever the owner, I have to say I am IMPRESSED! We’ve had way more rain than usual around here and the most experienced farmers and gardeners are behind schedule, but this garden looks like it was willed into the ground by a pro! (alas, 2018 update: it is no longer there)