Oh, Rapture!Joe took an actual vacation! That is to say, he took a week off of work on purpose, and not because he had to fix a transmission or build a chimney or whatever else he usually has to do during extended absences from work. Not that we went off to Belize or anything. I don't even know where that is. And who would want to go to Belize if they could vacation the way that we do? We started the week with cleaning up all the accumulated junk that has been around our house. If that sounds like work, it's because I haven't gotten to the payoff. Old logs too hard to split, and all the cardboard we could find made for a couple of very impressive bonfires. It had been so long since I'd sat by a bonfire in the dark that I had forgotten how it can melt tension off of you. It was the old adage about the cleansing nature of fire given a whole new meaning. Also, miniature marshmallows (which were all that we had) roast in about 1.7 seconds flat and are much less messy than the big ones. I may never go back. The second night we so perfect that we almost all fell asleep on the blanket in the yard. We might have had it not been for the mental image of waking with ticks in our ears.
Burning things isn't the only way that we know how to have fun and it also isn't the only way we know how to pick up ticks. We also took a trip over to our favorite new Poison Ivy Paradise. I don't mean to be sarcastic, except about the state of Kentucky's total lack of care-taking of the place, because I really do like Quiet Trails Nature Preserve. It boasts at least one (because I saw it!) Scarlet Tanager and a field full of very pale yellow Sweet Pea vines. There are also a couple of ponds with some unnaturally non-skittish bullfrogs, a couple of fungi that I got to look up in my dandy field guide, and a box turtle. Not only that, but it's only about three miles away! For people as hodophobic as Joe and I, that's a major plus. (That's "morbid fear of travel" to anyone who doesn't want to Google it, which is how I found out the word.) And for me, any chance to use my cool military surplus hiking pack qualifies as "major fun."
Unnaturally bold bullfrog...
Sweet Pea and Daisies at Quiet Trails
Ghetto telephoto of what I think is a female Widow Skimmer
Juvenile Northern Water SnakeOur vacation week involved more than a little bit of not cleaning anything up that normally gets cleaned up and watching The Hobbit and Captain Jack Sparrow for the umpteenth time. (By the way, even people who don't have kids should see Wreck It Ralph because it's just really clever.) But the real coup de vacances was that we got Joe to go to our favorite swimming place at the river. Funny how fire and water can both have the same effect on me. Nothing that was wrong seems wrong any more when I am at the river. The river has shiny shells and cliff swallows with a mud nest colony under the bridge. It has Killdeers and tree roots and dragonflies. It has tiny fish and huge fish and crawdads that bump into your feet when they go zooming backwards to escape. It even has the occasional tiny snake, empty turtle shell, or giant grub thingie that turns out to be a larval Dobsonfly. I know you'll be crushed that I didn't take a picture of that one. Mostly, the river has flowing water, blowing breeze, and all my men with smiles on their faces at the same time. And that, my friends, is really something... something that it seems is only ever accomplished by fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies on a normal day. We're simple people.
I wrapped up the vacation by trying to kill Joe. That is to say that we finished building, shoveling dirt into, and planting our box garden all in one day. Before I forget, I really should thank KYDOT for all that loose chip-n-seal gravel that they cover our road with every year before snow plow season. They dump it out just in time for the plows to throw it into my front yard where I cheerfully harvest it for many uses, including a drainage base for a 50 square foot box garden. Who says they don't put our tax dollars to good use? I digress. A box garden really is kind of the most awesome way to go. I have two small raised bed gardens totalling probably somewhere around 75 square feet. That's really not much space. That's less than a 10 foot by 10 foot bedroom. And in that space, I have 8 strawberry plants, 14 tomatoes of different kinds, 9 pepper plants, 4 rows of beans, 1 row each of tennis ball lettuce (definitely recommend!) and spinach, and more carrots than Bugs Bunny could crunch in all his years of animated life. Oh, and some marigolds. I weed, hoe, water, prune, and harvest by hand, fertilize once a month, and decorate excessively. Seriously, I think I need to go back on my meds. Since we put the thing in, I painted two gourds to hang by it, made bead flowers to attract hummingbirds to my feeder there, and made a wind chime for it with old keys and dog tags. Between that and all my bird feeders and houses, I'm going to turn into the world's dumbest looking lawn gnome from all the time I spend standing out in my yard with a goofy smile on my face.