Thursday, August 31, 2017

Saving those Geraniums

 "Let me sit in a flowerpot. The spiders won't notice. My heart is a stopped geranium." -Sylvia Plath
 Geranium roots. What to do with the geraniums? 
 I've been cleaning up the pots of flowers. Little by little. 
 Watching the geraniums get more like sticks with each and every passing day.
 It was , and still is, this late last day of August, a terribly HOT summer. The geraniums did fabulously well. 
 This year I'm determined to save as many as possible.  If  some survive. Great. If some die off. And some will. Great. They can go into the compost. It's a win/win situation.
 So this is what I do to save Geraniums. They can be expensive to buy every spring. You won't save them all. But you should be able to keep some from year to year. 
Before the first frost, carefully dig up your geraniums, and shake all the dirt off the roots.
 Well,we have a few weeks to go before frost. But I want to get a head start. There must be a gazillion geraniums out there. I have a lot to save.  And there they sit. Staring at me.....In their pots.They can be overwintered as dormant plants
 Common geraniums have thick, gooshy stems that will help the plant to survive a long dormant period. Ivy geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) and other narrower stemmed geraniums will not overwinter in the dormant state. Select healthy geraniums. 
 I wash off the stems and roots so that they are free from dirt.
 The Cat plant will not overwinter  like a geranium. Leave his pot so he can curl up in it for the remainder of the summer and into early fall.
 Gather all the geraniums you have cleaned and cut back  slightly. Keep as much of the root system as possible.
 I dry them off. They are particular to rot if left too wet. 
 “Long experience has taught me that people who do not like geraniums have something morally unsound about them. Sooner or later you will discover that they will even   speak sharply to cats. Never trust a man or a woman who is not passionately devoted to geraniums.” ― Beverley NicholsMerry Hall
 Many people used to keep geraniums in roots cellars. But since most of us do NOT have a root cellar, the basement will. do.  A garage will work as long as it does NOT freeze. Temps for storing should be cool, not warm, but not freezing. Somewhere about 45-50 F. ( 7-10 C.)
 You'll need some yarn, or light string, pair of scissors.  I cut certain lengths so I can tie up the geraniums onto a laundry drying rack.  Some people will store  geraniums,  in a paper bag. I don't have a million paper bags, or even one paper bag. So I do it differently.I just let them hang in the air......but if you wish to place them into bags as well, you can do that.
 I tie the geraniums, like little hanging dolls, upside down on the laundry rack. They will stay here till the s spring. Every so often you can mist their roots. They like that a lot. Some people will take the geraniums all down and place their roots into water. That's WAY too much work. So I just mist them.
 In early spring, plant the healthy plants in containers large enough to hold all the roots. Give them some water. Place in a sunny window, or in the greenhouse in pots. My mother would just place their roots in glass pickle jars with water to get the growth going. Then stuffed them into dirt when it was May. It may take several weeks to see new growth. Plant the geraniums outside when all danger of frost has passed.
"Such a morning it is when love leans through geranium windows and calls with a cockerel's tongue."-Laurie Lee (1916-1998)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

On Ideals......

 I found a beautiful piece of prose, written by the Swiss philosopher and poet Henri Frederic Amiel ( 1821-1881).  A description on what he calls "joy in one's whole being". Just have to share it...."ON IDEALS"
 A walk.....the atmosphere incredibly pure
 a warm, caressing, gentleness in the sunshine.
 Joy in one's whole being. Every way I was happy....
 as idler, as painter, as poet. Forgotten impressions of childhood and youth came back to me.
 All those indescribable effects wrought by colour, shadow, sunlight.....
 Green hedges, and songs of birds
 Upon the soul just opening to poetry.
 I became again young, wondering, and simple,
 as candour and ignorance are simple.
 I abandoned myself to life and to nature,
 and they cradled me with an infinite gentleness.
 To open one's heart in purity......
 To this ever pure nature,
 to allow this immortal life of things
 to penetrate one's soul,
 is at the same time.......
 to listen......
 To the voice of God.
 Born in 1821, Amiel was a descendent of the line of the Huguenots. His family died when he was young, and as a young man he travelled  in Europe, meeting various European leaders.In 1849 Amiel was appointed to the Academy of Geneva. His philosophical writings were thoughtfu, but he was isolated from the aristocratic party and it allowed him to write his famous journals: "Journal Intimate"  that was published after he passed away.
 "Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts."- Amiel
"On Ideals" taken from "1000 Beautiful things 1948"......

Saturday, August 26, 2017

My Father's Ocean

 “My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean
sends a thrilling pulse through me.”    ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
My dad loved the ocean. Wilder the better. He would stand  at the point at Gordon Beach, out at Sooke, B.C., in all sorts of weather. He would just stand and watch.I always wondered what he was watching. Even in those last few months, he would stand and not move. I imagined he was looking for pirate ships.

 In the early 1960's, my uncle would stay at our rustic, beat up  old cabin, thru the winter months, to escape the harsh Saskatchewan winters.  This huge , hollowed out tree was my jungle gym, so to speak. It was  an ocean full of surprises. One year I saw a grey whale circling the bay.
 My mother enjoyed standing in the surf, waiting for her picture to be taken. The surf would crackle and pop over stones making horrific noises. She would stand in the ocean till she was soaked. Waiting for someone to take her picture.
 My aunt was visiting one day. She climbed up on the old hollow log.  Then she couldn't get down. They got a ladder for her. She was worried about the tide. 
 When I was very little, I would run away from the sea. They always put me in that horrible brown snow suit. Ugh. How I hated that thing. Maybe I was really running away from it
One of my favourite
things to do was to stand on our  broken down stump. Stand and watch the ocean. I loved having my dad there. We would watch. Never really said anything. Just stood and watched. We did that day in, and day out. 
 Then there was the day, I sat at the edge of the ocean. It crashed and bashed around me. I think I  screamed at it. I didn't like it. My dad sat on a log. Again he didn't say much. He was patient.
 But I DID like the old telephone pole. Whenever we left the beach to head for home I would listen for the hum  of the wind.  Years later, many moons later, I still listened with my ear to the weathered wood, and the hum would always be the same one. It never changed. The same comforting sound.
 In my more shining moments, my mother ( her feet always stuck in the ocean), would haul me out over  the water. And on cue, I would scream. And scream. Terrified  the brewing water would boil over,  and swallow me up like a sea serpent.
 Many days . Many weeks. Many years . We would come and go. My dad created a story about this place. He called it "Johnny Fish". It was about a Selkie   ( A Selkie is  a fairy who takes on the form of a seal), with the aid of a  special white cloak. 
 With this cloak, the Selkie  could swim with the fishes and the seals, and have tea under the water with the king and Queen of the mer people.  At the end of the visit , the Selkie returned to the shore to live with her human parents. But the fairy folk  continued to watch over them . My favourite part was making up what sort of things they would have underwater: seaweed sandwiches, Sea cucumber croquettes, and Jelly Fish pudding......
 It was of course, a story for and about me. Supposed to make me less afraid of the water. It was always our story. And when my father died, it was still our story. But I shared it with my own children. And then the story  belonged to all of us. 
 When my father died, my mother took to sitting on the cabin deck. She would look out to sea.She would watch. Like my father watched.
 She would take me to the stump. She would stand and watch. Listen to the wind. I never wondered what she was watching for. I always knew .
 The ocean was a bright moment for all those years . As long as  sea serpents never  popped up, I was fine. I would catch my dad looking out to sea.  I thought he was looking for serpents.
   Sooke had  a magic quality. A  place where there was no phone, no electricity, not even a working bathroom. The smell of lye coming from the outhouse was a constant.
 It was one of the last things my mother would clean before  heading for home. My dad would make seats and tables out of log stumps.
  The parents always trying to get me to paddle in the salty brine. And me. Struggling and Squirming my way out of it. Except when I stood with my father , at that silly old stump, and watched for pirate ships, or Johnny Fish, and the fairy folk. We would listen to the seething wind and the crush of the waves. My father would be silent. Always watching. And I with him.
 "I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by, And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking, And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking."― John MasefieldSea Fever: Selected Poems