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Naked Ladies and Tomatoes

Naked Lady 1

Every August, clusters of pink, funnel-shaped flowers on erect, naked stems fill the air with a sweet bubble gum smell. The leafless stems give this gorgeous flower its common name: Naked Lady. The botanical name is Amaryllis belladonna and the plant is native to South Africa, yet widely cultivated in California and other parts of the world. We only have a handful of them scattered on the hillside, but I look forward to their beauty and fragrance every year.

Naked Lady 2

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The Early Girl tomatoes are the smallest specimen I’ve ever seen, but they are super flavorful. I guess it’s just too dry, even though the drip irrigation is on every day. The cherry tomatoes are doing OK and also very flavorful and sweet. We got a decent plate full of tomatoes

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which turned into a great tomato salad for dinner.

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Berries

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Berries are a true sign of sweet summer. We harvested the very first cherry tomatoes this weekend. There weren’t that many, but they were sweet and delicious; a reminder that tomatoes are in fact berries.

Then we picked wild blackberries, found a fantastic spot on our way home in Bodega Bay. We filled three buckets in a little over an hour and they were big and tasty.

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Time to make jam since I am not much of a baker.

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And voila, 18 jars of homemade blackberry jam – enough to last until next year.Of course that is not the way it works, we’ll give lots of it away and will go berry picking again and make more jam. I love summer!

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Hummingbirds in Heaven

IMG_1603I was suffering from Enchanted Meadows withdrawal after not having been there in over a month. As always, it lived up to its name: 80 degrees in the shade, blue skies, quiet except for the sounds of nature. One of my favorite sounds on the hillside will always be the buzzing and chirping of the hummingbirds. Our big Knifophia, their equivalent of catnip, was blooming in its orange glory and the Anna’s and Allen’s hummingbirds were making a racket battling over the nectar.

The tomato and squash plants in the pots are doing great. In fact, we harvested the first three squash already.

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The cherry tomatoes in the ground are doing OK, but not nearly as well as the plants in the pots with the primo soil. I have to admit that, but am still reluctant to give up gardening in the ground. Call me old-fashioned!

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It rained about half an inch late last week, so the soil was still fairly moist and had that wonderful earthy smell. The moisture also left condensation on an upside down garbage can covered with its lid that apparently made a perfect hiding place for two Pacific tree frogs that John discovered when he lifted the lid. He decided to use another garbage can for his project and leave the frogs be. There is room for everybody at Enchanted Meadows.

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I’m feeling rested and recharged after a short infusion of magic, but can’t wait to return. I will never tire of the beauty, tranquility and peace this amazing place has to offer.

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IMG_1273.JPGIf you are confused about fishing seasons in California, don’t try to sort things out now. It is really confusing. The salmon season is open – both sports and commercial – and now both crab and salmon are going on simultaneously until June 30. I will stop there, because nobody really knows what to make of all this. There are reports about great crab fishing, poor crab fishing, good salmon fishing, poor salmon fishing. None of the reports are consistent. The one fact that remains is that we are in a drought and water is precious and needed to sustain fish populations.

We were lucky to share some of the riches with our good friends Craig andĀ  Heidi. John caught two salmon off the Marin coast on Friday and we had some of it on Saturday for dinner – yum! Craig and Heidi brought some delicious heirloom tomatoes.

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And we cooked the first local crab of the season that we picked up at Point Arena Cove just an hour before dinner.

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The commercial crab season from the Sonoma/Mendocino county line and north opened on May 12. Our good friend Bill Arana came in with some 2000 pounds of crab on Saturday – he is a high liner for a reason! If you’ve never seen boats unload at Point Arena Cove, you’ve gotta go see it.

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This all made for an amazing dinner – company and food!

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You can go to Fort Ross to go to Glass Beach, or you can go to the “local” glass beach near the Point Arena Light House. Considering distance, motion sickness – and yet again limited time – Lotta, Carrie and I opted for glass beach in Point Arena. The descent and ascent aren’t easy, but certainly worth it. There is a cove full of weathered glass making a beach.

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Carrie was in glass beach heaven, couldn’t believe human pollution could actually turn into something beautiful.

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After a successful ascent

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We returned to Rollerville Cafe to have lunch. John used to live in this house way back in the 70’s! History.

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Saturday night, we rounded out this amazing week with dinner at the house in Anchor Bay celebrating friends. We are so, so lucky!

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It doesn’t get much better than spending a weekend on the North Coast walking the beaches in perfect weather, eating great food, drinking good wine and taking in the sounds, sights and smells of nature – except when you get to do it with your best friends. I was very fortunate to do exactly that last weekend. My college friends Lotta and Carrie whom I have known for 29 years returned to Anchor Bay for the third time. This whole trip was initiated by Carrie with an email entitled NEEDS. And yes, we needed this trip!

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We left the Bay Area Friday morning and made our first short stop at Valley Ford Market. While we were laboring to take a selfie with the store sign in the photo, a very nice gentleman came over and offered to take a picture of us, only problem was he had never used a smart phone. Eventually he took this photo and we all were thrilled. Thank you Mr. Stranger for being so wonderful!

IMG_0855Blooming irises and sunshine greeted us at the house. Time to kick back and absorb some vitamin D.

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But – with limited time we had to hit at least one beach on the first day, so we went to Schooner Gulch State Beach. The high tide made it impossible to see the bowling balls, but we saw a wild ocean and big swell…and Carrie and Lotta could pick their first rocks to take home.

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I rarely enter this beach from the southern trail head, but must say the redwood trees and plants were gorgeous. We saw severalĀ  batches of calla lilies and sticky monkey flowers.

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Filled with impressions of natural beauty, we enjoyed a glass of champagne on the deck as the sun set behind the redwood trees.

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Gardening Continued

IMG_0624Our gardening projects from last weekend progressed during an absolute perfect weekend: shorts and tank top weather, sunny in the mid 70s, a slight breeze, hummingbirds buzzing around me – there is no place I would have rather been. I kept planting to a minimum just because I don’t want to use too much water. Three (drought-challenged and transplanted) artichokes and three squashes in one box, six cherry tomatoes in another box, six squashes in another, two Early Girls and squash in pots. It’s an experiment to compare growing in pots versus growing in soil… the continual challenge of growing in the redwood forest.

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Getting the drip irrigation system up to speed was another challenge. After two years of laying dormant because of the drought, fixing leaks and broken connectors took time and digging, literally. It eventually all worked and we have a minimal system in place. I hope all the lavender, irises and Mexican sage transplants will take root and feed the hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

On the way home on Sunday, the coast offered beautiful views of the ocean, including whales rolling on the surface and spy hopping…what an amazing place the coast is!

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