Archive for the ‘Lake Gaston Area’ Category

Spring on Lake Gaston

With the mild type of winter we’ve had here in North Carolina, it’s hard to feel that Spring hasn’t already happened. March came in like a sacrificial lamb, and even though it’s long gone, there’s still a passive bleating going on out there that’s becoming more and more like a whimper. The daffodils near the edge of the lake are thoroughly confused, as are the azaleas—now in full bloom. Leaves have puffed out from tree branches like lime green popcorn. (I would think the maples and oaks have been fooled by unseasonably warm weather before, and are smart enough to know better. But they are actively frolicking like children in the warm afternoons as well.)

But for now, everything seems right, and even though the mad prance of Spring seems to have passed like a ghost, I’m sure there’s a surprise or two greening just around the corner.

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A while back I mentioned a tiny plant Mom had received from one of those 1-800-SendMomaPlant holiday florist-type shops. Sent to her for a Valentine’s Day “IrememberU” gift by a granddaughter, it was a small, 6-inch, green-foil-wrapped potted gardenia whose tiny buds were miraculously in full, miniature bloom.

Like most such live potted love-plant gifts, it was doomed to a slow, windowsill death.

On the last morning of my Valentine’s Day visit, Mom said, “Why don’t you take this plant back up to North Carolina with you and plant it somewhere safe rather than letting it die, neglected, in my room?”

When I got home, I set “Gertie the Gardenia” on a living-room table that had a bright, Venetian blind-protected Southern exposure: right from the start, Gertie was happy. In the winter months — with the sun very low on the horizon — she blushes like hell sitting adjacent to “Ollie”, an indoor oregano plant, with whom she has become (I suspect!) a bit more than just good friends. As the years passed, and seeing how well she had adapted to her indoor home, I transplanted Gertie several times, until she sits — even as I write this — in a 25-inch pot.

Valentine's Day Love-Plant with Lots of Blooms 2B

Last time when I told you about Gertie, I mentioned how great she smelled when she was in full bloom. And that — yes, indoor gardenia plants do, indeed, bloom. “Pictures!” you all cried out. “Show us PICTURES!”

Well, by golly, and since I never forget, take a look at Gertie, who has just begun one of her robust blooming campaigns that will last for a month or longer. Sometimes, she does this more than once a year.

Just thought you’d like to see what can be done with one of those “doomed to a slow, windowsill death” Valentine’s Day love-plants. (Okay, I admit it. In-between bursts of around-the-clock spiritually cleansing fragrance, Gertie asked me to write today’s story.)

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I don’t want this to sound like a “you know you’re living in the twenty first century when” chain email, but a friend of mine called a while ago saying he was looking at a new house. He, his wife, son and daughter live near Kerr Lake (pronounced “car”), on the western end of Lake Gaston. Water flows through the Kerr Lake dam, feeding Lake Gaston. Although the Kerr Lake water level may fluctuate twenty or thirty feet, Lake Gaston always remains at about the same level.

“I found an eleven acre farm, Tim,” he said. “House looks real nice. Everyone’s excited. Big trees, a barn, lots of garden space. Real nice. Gotta go talk with the real estate agent.”

He called back about three hours later. “How’s the house?” I asked.

“Forget it,” he exclaimed. “It’s so far out in the boonies there’s no cable modem service. Then I called to check on DSL and they laughed.”

In all fairness, my friend works out of a home office instead of commuting to and from Raleigh every day, a two hour drive each way. A large part of what he does relies on a swift company link in both directions. I suggested a satellite system similar to one I used to use, but a satellite upload is comparable to dial-up speed and not fast enough for his needs.

My friend’s reasoning got me to thinking about how completely the weft and woof of technology has been woven into the everyday tapestries that make up our lives. To think that Internet connection speed and broadband availability could affect such a monumental decision as buying a new home is, well – mind warping. But it’s certainly something to check out before making the plunge.

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“And the Moon be Still as Bright”*.

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If I Just Listen.

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Ah, Fall

The past couple of weeks mark the first days of what I call the “Cool Season”. Nestling somewhere in-between SummerFall and Winter, the Cool Season is sleeping under a quilt with the windows open, and morning cups of coffee that warm the hands as well as the spirit. Soon, roadside views will thrill the full turning of leaves and rich color, churning intensely as long as Mother Nature lets it.

The Cool Season is restraint; first-launch leaves, unsure hatchlings whose feathers — not ripe for flight — leap from the nest any way, swooping like Fall, but not quite right. Yet.

In a few days, overnight perhaps, Fall might splash down like a brushstroke from an artist’s wild varnish wash, fixing all things for a little while so we can look at it. Not quite Fall, though. Yet.

It’s the Cool Season.

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I am simply amazed that my small patio-garden is still producing. About a month ago I walked up to the tomato plants with pruning shears in my hands and rapped on their 22-inch pots. “Okay, guys,” I said in a most apropos doctor-voice. “You are NOT going to like this!”

But one of the tomato plants managed to sneak in a profound, yet squeaky, “Hang on, Boss — I’m not through yet!” before I could position the snips at its root base. My sweet red pepper plant noticed the gleam of sunlight on blade and quickly chimed in, “Hey, take a look at this!” It raised a jumble of leaves suggestively in the chilly breeze and — by golly! — showed me a preponderance of new pepper blossoms and a host of dangling, 2-inch peppers.

I almost blushed.

All of which is to say, last night I sautéed some tasty fall tomatoes, a finely sliced red pepper, and a handful of sweet Vidalia onion chunks in some olive oil; tossed in some fresh patio rosemary and patio tarragon and a dash of crushed patio garlic, and — while piling all of it onto a mound of pasta and topping it off with some grated parmesan and Romano cheese — reflected that I’m sure glad I listened to those frantic pleas.

And just to make sure those plants remember their promise, I always carry the pruning shears in plain sight, tucked loosely in my shirt pocket.

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