Sunday, July 26, 2009

Clovers and other ramblings...

I've been sneaking into a few of my favorite old books when I find a minute or two... I love every "spelled-as-it's-spoken" poem written by James Whitcomb Riley, and I am equally smitten by the works of Eric Sloane, whose pen-and-ink renderings and quaint if not historical paintings of America's fading past have always tugged at my heartstrings, as well as given me great inspiration in my own paintings and artwork. There is no doubt that my beloved topic-of-choice when I get out my own paints and paintbrushes is a long-forgotten farmhouse or empty forlorn barn.

As I was reading a particular poem from the old 1901 edition of Riley's Farm-Rhymes that mom had given me some years ago, I was immediately overcome with memories of my dad, who has been gone for two long years now. I ran to the stairway and picked up another old book that I always keep close at hand, Lavender & Old Lace. I have never read this book yet it serves a much more useful purpose, and that is to hold dear amongst its many pages all the four- and five-leaf clovers that I stumble upon as I work around the barnyard and gardens.

You should know that my father could always find a four-leaf clover, and he was always keeping an eye out for them! When my children were small, he would go with them down near the barn nearest the sheep and goats, always on the lookout for clovers! I can remember the boys saying with disbelief... perhaps slightly hidden disdain?!..."Grandpa found another clover!"

I have always pressed my found good-luck treasures between the pages of books; when I was a little girl, their home would be a huge old Webster's Dictionary that mom kept in the livingroom on a stand near the front door. But I would also tuck them into any book that was handy, and would rediscover them ages later. (Nobody knows this, but when I was little I was playing out in the back field near our home, and found several clovers.. even one with NINE leaves, so I tucked them into my pocket to press in the dictionary when I got home. Hours later, I was horrified to realize they had shriveled and died, so I decided to promptly eat any clovers I found when I was not close to home... that way, I wouldn't lose any of the good luck they were purported to give me!) I can open an herb book that was well-used by me in the early 1990's and find them in there, along with pressed roses from my Grandmother's funeral and dried flowers from a Mother's Day bouquet I received from my friend Greg's children a few years later. I absentmindedly slip them into pages of cookbooks and puzzlebooks too. But this unread book has been filling with all the clovers I've found since my dad's passing... close to two dozen and counting. My daughter and I know of two patches near the well where we can often find lucky clovers, but these in my book have not been searched for. They show up when they do. To me, they are each a memory of my dad, so I keep them close in my book.
forever in our hearts
January 29, 1937- July 21, 2007

The Clover

Some sings of the lily, and daisy, and rose
And the pansies and pinks that the Summertime throws
in the green grassy lap of the medder that lays
Blinkin' up at the skyes through the sunshiney days;
But what is the lily and all of the rest
Of the flowers, to a man with a hart in his brest
That was dipped brimmin' full of the honey and dew
Of the sweet clover-blossoms his babyhood knew?

I never set eyes on a clover-field now,
Er fool round a stable er climb in the mow,
But my childhood comes back jest as clear and as plane
As the smell of the clover I'm sniffin' again;
And I wunder away in a bare-footed dream,
Whare I tangle my toes in the blossoms that gleam
With the dew of the dawn of the morning of love
Ere it wept ore the graves that I'm weepin' above.

so I love clover- it seems like a part
Of the sacredest sorrows and joys of my hart;
And wharever it blossoms, oh, thare let me bow
And thank the good God as I'm thankin' Him now;
And I pray to Him still fer the stren'th when I die,
To go out in the clover and tell it good-bye,
And lovin'ly nestle my face in its bloom
While my soul slips away on a breth of perfume.

~James Whitcomb Riley, 1883

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer happenings...

Hello to all... thought I'd better drop a line or two lest my Wildenblue Farm Journal dries up and blows away! My apologies again for not being more up-to-date... life is busy and I have been trying to keep up with things, plus find time to enjoy what little warm and sunny weather we've had on occasion! I got the fields in the barnyard mowed last week, everything was growing so tall that the chickens and geese could barely wade through the pastures! My daughter's homeschool graduation get-together was fun; we had only a bit of rain which quickly turned to sunshine, so all turned out well for that. My grandson turned one year old on July 16th, they are expecting again in November... perhaps a little girl!? (My middle son and his girlfriend are expecting shortly thereafter... another boy, if the ultrasounds are correct!) My mom, daughter and I finally finished stripping all the pine floors on the main level of the house... we got them oiled and cured just a few weeks ago! WHEW!!! A job I am so glad is finished! I've been trying to keep up with the gardens; first the strawberries, then the rhubarb, now the raspberries. There are also currants and gooseberries waiting to be picked out in the back garden. Mom and I headed over to Hick's Orchard, a local pick-your-own farm where we picked about 25 pounds of sour cherries. I made a batch of jam and a pie or two, and froze the rest for pies for the winter. We've been sneaking in a bit of kayaking when we can, as well! The chickens are still laying about a dozen or so fresh eggs a day due to the fact that the weather has not been blisteringly hot nor humid, thank goodness! I've been picking flowers and herbs to bundle; the garden shed is filling quickly with assorted bunches... last week I picked Lavender, Delphinium, Yarrow and Silver Artemesia, along with Cat Mint and Baby's Breath. I have a lot of Tansy that will have to be picked and hung to dry in the next couple of weeks, and following that will be Sweet Annie. Our seven kitties have destroyed every single Catnip plant in the garden here, but luckily mom has bunches of it in her garden! The next big thing around here is the upcoming wedding of my oldest son and his fiance towards the end of August, and whatever comes along in-between! With that brief update, I'll leave you with some pictures of the goings-on these past few weeks and I'll be off, but here is a recipe for scones which I made this morning! Blessings to all of you! xox

Raspberry Scones with White Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. In a large bowl, sift together 3 & 1/4 cups flour, 3/4 cup Sugar, 1 tablespoon Baking Powder, 1 teaspoon Baking Soda and a pinch of Salt. With a pastry cutter, cut in 3/4 cup Butter to make a coarse, crumbly mix.

In a small bowl, add 1 cup of Milk, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1 egg and 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract or Framboise Liqueor; mix well. Dump this into the dry mixture, along with 1 & 1/2 cups of White Chocolate Chips. Blend til all is combined, then gently fold in 1 & 1/2 cups of fresh Raspberries. Drop by heaping dinner-table spoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheet about 3 inches apart and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes til golden brown. Cool.