Sunday Dinner: Secrets of the River

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“Have you also learned that secret from the river;
that there is no such thing as time?”
That the river is everywhere at the same time,
at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall,
at the ferry, at the current,
in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere
and that the present only exists for it,
not the shadow of the past
nor the shadow of the future.”
.
Hermann Hesse
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“We must begin thinking like a river
if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life
for future generations.”
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David Brower
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“Ask the river, where it comes from?
You will get no answer.
Ask the river, where is it going?
You will get no answer,
because the river lives
inside this very moment;
neither in the past nor in the future,
in this very moment only!”
.
Mehmet Murat ildan
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Black’s Point, Jamestown Island in the James River

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017
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WPC: Atop

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“Indeed, I find that distance lends perspective

and I often write better of a place

when I am some distance from it.

One can be so overwhelmed by the forest

as to miss seeing the trees.”

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Louis L’Amour

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“Distance has the same effect on the mind as on the eye.”

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Samuel Johnson

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“The greatest risk to man

is not that he aims too high and misses,

but that he aims too low and hits.”

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Michaelangelo

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“A mountain still in the distance

can appear as a molehill.”

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Howard Fast

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“Utopia is a collective shift of perception away.

Abundance is all around us.

Only our efforts at tower-building blind us to it,

our gaze forever skyward,

forever seeking to escape this Earth,

this feeling, this moment.”

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Charles Eisenstein

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016-2017

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“My father says that there is only one perfect view —

the view of the sky straight over our heads,

and that all these views on earth

are but bungled copies of it.”

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E.M. Forster

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Atop

Three Herons

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We drove to Jamestown this weekend, and were quite delighted to spot more herons than usual along the way.  Their plumage blends quite subtly, this time of year, with the marshes they frequent; and so it takes a sharp eye, sometimes, to even notice them.

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Oftentimes we simply point them out to one another.  We don’t break the flow of our journey for a photo-stop.

And we are always pleased to see these most Zen-like birds.  Their calm and detachment belie a deep self-confidence, perhaps, that they will remain master of their circumstance.

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Where we find herons, we assume the water is fairly pure.  That is often said of rivers where Eagles nest.  They only live where the environment can support them in good health.

Eagles, herons, geese and ducks all make the James River and its James City County creeks their home.

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Sandy Bay, where all of this series of photos was taken. The distant bank, along the causeway to Jamestown Island, is where I stood to take the first several photos. An Osprey Eagle nest fils

Sandy Bay, where all of this series of photos was taken. The distant bank, along the causeway to Jamestown Island, is where I stood to take the first several photos. An Osprey Eagle nest fills the top of the Cypress tree on the far left.

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The herons remain alert.  They live in the moment, sensing all unfolding around them.  They always respond as I move closer to them with my clicking, flashing camera and not so light step.  And although they may wade further from shore, they rarely take flight at my approach.

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We admire these regal birds, and watch for them along the creeks and marshes near our home.

Finding them in abundance, as we did on Sunday afternoon, lends a certain luster to a late winter afternoon.

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Woodland Gnome 2017

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The Quest: WPC

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Quest: (N) A long and arduous journey in search of something of importance.  A seemingly impossible task or challenge.  A mystery solved only through a journey into unknown territory.

What is your quest?  What is it you seek?

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When I taught literature, I challenged my students to look at many novels we read together within the paradigm of  ‘The Heroe’s Journey.’  We talked about the personal qualities which enable someone to set off from home to accomplish a seemingly impossible task.

And, of course, accepting the challenge and finding the will to leave the comforts of home behind, for the sake of the journey, counts as the first ‘seemingly impossible’ task for nearly every hero.

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Each challenge along the way finds the hero discovering more and more… about themselves.  The hero returns home transformed, perhaps even enlightened.

Sometimes  returning home may actually mean finding a new home, a better place to live, at the end of their journey.

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But one thing always true of quests is their mystery.   There is rarely a map, and one must navigate from the heart.

Guides almost always appear when needed most, yet the hero still makes the choice to turn one way or another, to engage or to avoid encounters along the way.

There are struggles to survive, and battles with evil ones.   There is never any guaranteed success.

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When one begins any journey, little of the road ahead can be seen.  Maybe we can see the first bit of the path, perhaps there is a even a destination in mind.

But things rarely turn out to be what they seem, and the path leads us ever onwards into the unknown; sometimes  into the unknowable.

Following a quest requires courage and determination, openness and heart. 

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And heroes often understand, when the quest is finished, that their journey through the world was also a journey into the mystery of themselves.  They find, within themselves, the true object of their quest.

What is your quest?

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Woodland Gnome  2016

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Quest

 

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A few of my favorite stories of quests and heroes:

The Teachings of Don Juan:  A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda
The Return of Merlin by Deepak Chopra 
The Alchemist  by Paul Coelho
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
The Odyssey by Homer
Hatchet by Gary Paulson
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
The Celestine Prophecy series by James Redfield
The Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Epic of Gilgamesh  traditional Sumerian story

 

 

 

Sunday Dinner: Courage

September 3, 2016 027

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“Life shrinks or expands

in proportion to one’s courage.”

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Anaïs Nin

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“The simple step of a courageous individual

is not to take part in the lie.

One word of truth outweighs the world.”

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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers.

It happens when you are ready

to face the questions you have been avoiding

your whole life.”

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Shannon L. Alder

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“I have not always chosen the safest path.

I’ve made my mistakes, plenty of them.

I sometimes jump too soon

and fail to appreciate the consequences.

But I’ve learned something important along the way:

I’ve learned to heed the call of my heart.

I’ve learned that the safest path

is not always the best path

and I’ve learned that the voice of fear

is not always to be trusted.”

.

Steve Goodier

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“Courage isn’t absence of fear,

it is the awareness

that something else is important”

  .

Stephen R. Covey

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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“Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.”


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Amelia Earhart

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High Water and Hurricane Lilies

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The storm, Hermine, still spins off the coast making her way, slowly and majestically, towards the northeast.  Now off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and back over open water, she gathers strength even as she loses speed.

Her winds are up, her pressure down, and she generously keeps sending rain showers our way.

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The folks on-air at the Weather Channel obviously aren’t allowed to use the ‘H’ word anymore.  They call her a ‘Post-Tropical Cyclone.’  But we know the truth.  Her winds are back up to a sustained 70 mph and her pressure is down to 29.38 inches.  That sounds like a hurricane to me.

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The James River is well out of its banks here near Jamestown.

The James River is well out of its banks here near Jamestown.

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I’m thinking of loved ones on the ‘Eastern Shore’ of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.  They pretty much sit on a little peninsula out in the Atlantic Ocean, well out of site of the mainland.

It must feel very lonely out there when a hurricane is knocking at the door.  And this one brought an overnight bag; it may spin off their coast between now and Wednesday or Thursday!

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College Creek

College Creek

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We’re far enough inland to have benefited from the rain but not had problems caused by the winds.  Our streets, wet and covered with pine tags and fallen leaves, are blessedly clear.  The few branches we’ve cleared were all small enough to pick up and toss with one hand.

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But the creeks and rivers have spilled out of their banks.  All the marshes and ditches filled and overflowing from the storm surge, reflect our low grey sky.  Flocks of birds gather and fly in great arcs above the wetlands.

They feel the change in the air, as do we, and have gathered to prepare for their autumn journeys.

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Our rain came last night, soon after dusk.  Quiet and gentle at first, we had to listen carefully to know it had begun.  It rained all night, giving life back to our desiccated  garden; and we awoke to a newly greened and wonderfully  wet world.

Plants which I thought were dried and finished plumped up and revived themselves overnight.

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This slow, gentle rain has soaked in instead of running off.  The soil is soaking it in, channeling it down, down, to the reservoirs below.

There is nothing like a prolonged drought to remind us that water is the life’s blood of every living thing.  It is that magical, precious substance which animates and sustains us all.

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Alocasia 'Sarian' grows happily here in a pot filled with Coleus.

Alocasia ‘Sarian’ grows happily here in a pot filled with Coleus.

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The ‘Hurricane Lily,’ or ‘Spider Flower’ got its name when gardeners recognized that its bloom comes on only after a heavy late summer rain.  A long dry hot spell, followed by a heavy rain, such as a tropical storm might bring, triggers growth in this unusual bulb.

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Its flowers come first in late August or September.  Carried on tall bare stems, this flower is another of the lilies commonly knows as ‘Naked Ladies.’  Long, thin Liriope like leaves will emerge in several weeks, growing through autumn and into the winter.

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Even a damp and bedraggled Ginger Lily still smells sweetly.

Even a damp and bedraggled Ginger Lily still smells sweetly.

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My intense watering, these last few weeks, of the roses and Ginger Lilies growing near our bulbs triggered their early blooming.

They didn’t wait for the hurricane to pass before they bloomed.

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Now, if you want to order a few bulbs for yourself, please search for ‘Lycoris radiata,’ not ‘Naked Ladies,’ as a friend told me he recently did.  There are several lilies from bulbs which bloom either before or after their leaves appear, and so have earned this descriptive moniker.  My friend suggested that his returns on the search were more interesting than he expected.  And I promised to email a link to him for ordering some bulbs….

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We’ve now enjoyed 20 hours of nearly steady rain, with more to come.  The air smells fresh and the breeze is cool.

We are quite satisfied with Hermine’s brief visit.  And we wish her well and hope she moves on out to sea, sparing our neighbors to the north any ill effects from her passing.

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Mirror

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Woodland Gnome 2016

 

 

 

Chasing Sunset

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We chased the sunset last night, along the long stretch of the Colonial Parkway from Williamsburg to Jamestown.  It was the best of summer, with frog song and balmy breezes, families wading along the river and herons perching along the shore.

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College Creek at Archer's Hope, where Captain Gabriel Archer wanted to settle the first colonists in 1607.

College Creek at Archer’s Hope, where Captain Gabriel Archer wanted to settle the first colonists in 1607.

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A deep, quiet green has settled on the landscape.  Abundant summer rain has kept it all alive and growing to lush proportions.

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The reeds stand thickly in every creek and marsh.  Red winged blackbirds dip and wheel, chasing armies of flying insects, and perhaps one another, across the creek as daylight fades.

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The setting sun gilds the sky and water, glinting from the reeds’ seed heads, filling the air itself with its golden glow.

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This is August in Virginia.  A time to slow down and savor summer just as it begins to slip away towards autumn.

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The days have grown noticeably shorter, subtly warning us of the waning year.  Boaters and fisherman brave our mosquitoes to drink in the river, the air, the moment.  And so did we.

Leaving our air conditioned cave behind for this heavy August evening, we drove through deep green forests and over acres of marshland; smelling the newly mown sweetgrass and briny marsh.

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The air remains hot and heavy on an evening like this, despite the gathering dusk.  Clouds pile up on the horizon, but no rain follows.  The river is high, swelling every creek and rivulet, moving swiftly in its course.

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What a lovely night to be alive.  We watched for deer and rabbits on the roadsides, eagles and herons by the river.  We saw a turtle beside the road and armies of Canada geese gathering together, somehow knowing the season soon will turn again.

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The bats had taken flight by the time we headed home.  Swooping and diving above the road, above the fields, above the trees, they filled the sky as darkness gathered.  We couldn’t hear them, but we saw their utter delight in the feast.

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We are surrounded by abundance.  We are surrounded by the ongoing mystery play of life.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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“When one tunes in into nature’s frequency,
life becomes change,
change becomes hope!”
.
Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel
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August 10, 2016 River at dusk 058

 

 

 

WPC: Look Up! (An Evening on the River)

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“In the sky

there are always answers and explanations

for everything: every pain, every suffering,

joy and confusion.”


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Ishmael Beah

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“For this week’s challenge, take a moment to look up. Whether it’s the fan above your head at work, your bedroom ceiling, or the night sky, what do you see?

Is it familiar? Or does it show you a new perspective on your surroundings?” 

The Daily Post

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Look Up!

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016
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These photos commemorate the spot where Edwin Alexander Tejada Delgado drowned on July 7, just before sunset, while swimming in the James River with his friends at this popular beach along the Colonial Parway near Jamestown Island. We didn’t know him, but we watch young people swimming, wading, fishing and boating from this beach nearly year round. 

We look up, to the sky here, exactly a day after his body was found.

May he rest in peace.

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July 8, 2016 sky 009

 

Our Latest Experiment: Milorganite

Connie Hansen Garden, Lincoln City Oregon

The Connie Hansen Garden, in Lincoln City, Oregon, where deer roam freely through the beach front community.  This beautiful garden remains open to the public – and the deer- year round.

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A friend and neighbor, allies in our battle against hungry deer, first mentioned Milorganite several years back.  I’d never heard of the stuff.  She said she was trying it as a deer deterrent with some success.

She and her partner garden on one of the most exposed water front lots in our part of the community.  We collaborated together on our list of deer resistant plants, but I never followed up on her suggestion to try Milorganite.  Now I wish we had…..milorganite

A year or so later, a Gloucester based landscaper suggested it to me again.  He recommended creating a barrier around one’s entire garden by broadcasting a 3′-4′ wide strip of the smelly stuff around the perimeter of any area you need to protect.  He swore deer wouldn’t cross it.  Sounded like a good idea; which I filed away to explore in more detail later.

Meanwhile, our personal battle to protect our garden from the deer continues.  It’s not just the plants we want to protect from their grazing.  Deer carry ticks, and ticks carry Lyme’s disease and other nasty infections.  We’ve both had several bites over the years followed by expensive visits to the doctor, tests, and prescriptions.

Lyme’s disease is one of those infections one never truly gets over; it can linger in the body and flare up later in unexpected ways.  It changes people’s lives in unpleasant ways; another reason to stay away from deer and ticks.  We figured this out, of course, only after we fell in love with the community  and bought our little forest garden.  We’ve learned a great deal since then.

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After nearly seven years of finding ways to foil the deer, a few somehow still slip into the garden from time to time.  And once in, they find tasties to nibble while spreading ticks and leaving their little ‘gifts.’   We’ve both had ticks latch onto us this spring, already.

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By mid-August of 2014 surrounding shrubs shade the actual raised bed..

By mid-August, our garden grows in with plenty of temptations for grazing deer.

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But a casual conversation with one of the garden experts at Lowes, earlier this week, reminded me of Milorganite.  She gardens on the Northern Neck, along the Piankatank River slightly north of Williamsburg.  And she contends with herds of deer, too.  She highly recommended Milorganite as a deer repellent in the garden.

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August 7, 2014 garden 040

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Now, before we go any further in this story, I need to share with you our real reason for avoiding Milorganite all these years.  I was all set to try it years ago until we learned its true nature:  municipal sewage sludge.  Somehow we just didn’t want to spread dried sewage all around our garden, despite its potential benefits.

Since 1926, the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has processed the sludge from its sewage treatment plant to produce a 5-2-0 natural fertilizer known as Milorganite. Milwaukee Organic Nitrogen” was devised to reduce material in landfills while recycling this natural source of nitrogen as a safe fertilizer for lawns, golf courses, and agriculture.  The dried sewage is heat dried to kill bacteria and other pathogens, then pelletized to produce an easy to apply, dust free organic fertilizer.  But all the processing doesn’t completely remove the odor, which is why Milorganite repels deer.

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Rose scented Geranium

Rose scented geranium has proven a more pleasant deer repellent than sprays.  We plant scented Pelargoniums all around the garden to protect tasty shrubs and perennials.  They also repel mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects.

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If you’ve bought a spray bottle of deer repellent lately, you know it’s very pricey.  Whether you buy Plantskydd , Repells- All, or some other product; you make an investment which often washes away in the next thunderstorm.

After resisting Milorganite these last few years, we finally decided to try it earlier this week.  The little guys have been slipping through our ‘deer fences’ and have already grazed some favorite roses and Camellias just as they leafed out this spring.  We are weary of chasing them out of the garden with no clue as to how they get in or out….

A 36 pound bag of Milorganite, enough to treat 2500 square feet, was only around $13.00 at Lowes.  On Monday afternoon we decided to give it a try, and bought a bag. Produced as a ‘slow release’ fertilizer, it lasts a long time before it completely dissolves into the soil.  How long will it work for us?  That is part of our experiment….

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April 5, 2016 070

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I suited up in my usual garden ‘get up,’ covered head to toe, with hat and gloves; and broadcast the first strip of Milorganite along our street.  Using a recycled plastic quart food container, I shook a light application in the spaces between our shrubs, and especially around the Camellias, from the pavement back to our deer fence behind the shrubs.

It wasn’t bad, really.  It didn’t smell as bad as the sprays we use, and was so much easier to apply.  Our single bag proved sufficient to broadcast a 4′ perimeter around our entire garden, and also to make barriers around vulnerable beds of Azaleas, roses, Hydrangeas, and perennials.  I laid a stripe everywhere we know the deer frequent in our garden.

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Azaleas once filed our front garden. In recent years, a growing herd of deer graze on what little remains.

Azaleas once filed our front garden. In recent years, a growing herd of deer graze on what little remains.

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Although the University of Georgia has published studies on Milorganite as a deer repellent, it isn’t marketed as one.  Its use to repel animals is a ‘word of mouth’ sort of thing between gardeners.  And how long a single application will last depends on any number of variables.  We plan to spread it again by the middle of June, then again in September.  Based on what we’ve read, it should last close to 90 days during the growing season.

Now we watch and wait.  My daydreams of full, lush Azalea shrubs and un-grazed roses may finally come true.  Our hopes to finally watch our Hostas mature, un-nibbled and full, may be realized this year.  Faith, hope and love wax strongest in a gardener’s heart in early spring, before realities set in.

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June 21 Lanai 022~

I’ll let you know how it works, of course.  If Milorganite performs as well as other gardeners have promised, we might actually plant a few vegetables later in the season with hope to harvest a cucumber or two!  I’m curious to learn whether it deters squirrels, rabbits, voles, and other mammals, in addition to deer.  If it does, we will use it faithfully from now on.

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We may be holding our noses, metaphorically speaking, but we’ll gladly support the city of Milwaukee in their recycling efforts.  And we’ll spread the word as broadly as we spread the Milorganite!

Have you tried Milorganite in your garden?  If you have, how well does  it work for you?

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It was almost 9 PM when I took these photos of our rabbit on Wednesday evening. A long day, indeed.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

In recognition of Wildlife Wednesday

(Tina has posted some lovely photos of birds visiting her garden this month. 

Please visit her for links to other Wildlife Wednesday posts this April.)

 

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A mother Cardinal built her nest by our kitchen door. We feel honored by her trust.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

Late May

Late May

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“I know I am but summer to your heart,

and not the full four seasons of the year.”

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Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Living here surrounded by forests and wetlands, tides and seasons are the metronomes of our live.  We watch the passage of time in every budding branch, ripening berry, brilliant crimson leaf, and ice clogged marsh.

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November

November

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But time is cyclic here, like the tides.  The creatures come and go in their comforting rhythm as one month melts into the next.  We’ve learned where to watch for them, and when.

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January

January

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No rhythm escapes notice.  There is nothing subtle about the changing of the seasons in coastal Virginia.  Each carries its distinct beauties and its mood.  They may meld slowly one to the next, but there is time to savor and appreciate each in its fullness.

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February

Late February

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And these things remain constant: water flows,  trees glisten in the sunlight, birds call to one another, wind ripples across the creeks, and all things change.  We watch the rising and falling of the tides and see the currents flowing through our lives. 

We watch seedlings sprout, and see rotted trees fallen from the last storm.  But even the fallen serve their purpose,  holding sunning turtles this day, and herons in their meditations another.  Life goes on; nothing ever lost or wasted.

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July

July

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Seasons:  the changing costumes of the one creation.  Whether they pass as swiftly as spring, or as slowly as a glacier encrusted ice age; they demonstrate the dynamic life animating everything on our planet.

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September

September

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

 

“Except. What is normal at any given time?

We change just as the seasons change,

and each spring brings new growth.

So nothing is ever quite the same.”

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Sherwood Smith

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Ice covers the marsh at Halfway Creek where Canada Geese gather in search of food.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014-2016

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