Thursday, July 1, 2010


First of quite a few days when our Little One will be away, and it’s oddly silent in the house, save for the hum of the A/C and the cheery little chuckle as the ice machine does his frosty work. The patio is shielded on all sides by overgrown shrubbery and grapevines, the house and the two garages, so I and my First Cup make my way out in my long sleepshirt, as the birds continue their own day-greetings. A long, loving-the-cool-of-the-morning stretch beneath the BIGGGG tree, and a look around the dawn-damp lawn. Chris’ tomato forest is flourishing.
(Do click for better viewing)

There are relics from our lives, from our travels, from the other places we’ve lived: A churn which has held its quota of Grace Church Pickles in their 21-day-steep, a moss-covered grindstone, rocks we’ve picked up on roadsides and creekbeds, and a dear old friend---Miss Effie, who began her life as a gaudy decoration on the lawn of a rental house, and who was tossed into the rent-a-dumpster by the cleaning crew readying the house for sale. They’d left her legs stuck into the Oxalis bed, so she's in eternal nurture mode, sitting on her nest. We've brought her with us through three houses, and she's been sitting gracefully beneath the big tree these many years. Occasionally we’re surprised and delighted by the gift of a few pale pastel eggs which appear beneath her plump little proud swell, and are glad she’s a part of the family.

The sun’s still way over the buildings and trees, and as I sit down in one of the big green chairs, setting my coffee on the arm and leaning back, the sight of our tallest tree never ceases to awe and amaze me. She’s a sixty-footer or so, and the GrandChildren call her the “kissing tree,” for the three big trunks, surely once three small shoots making their lifetime-way from the ground, are closely grown, two of them fused over the decades for about ten feet, and the center one puckered into a big smooch onto the third, which seems to stand stolidly enduring the embrace like a standoffish aunt guarding her coiffure.

It’s a chapel of sorts, this sheltering tree, with its own spirituality and meaning, and it was one of the main reasons we bought this house; the sounds through the limbs and leaves, the dapply shade as the wind moves through, the five squirrel-nests, barely visible in Summer, which welcome the small creatures for their rest in the cold times. And the shade has a special cool to it; just stepping beneath the great height casts a cooling shadow like the welcome chill of riding through shade in late afternoon with the windows down.

Across the way toward the bigger garage is a little vignette that I treasure---a clutch of daisies, set into the ground from their gift-pot when they’d run their course, and now yards wide, with their accompanying white petunias in their own pots---all white and green.

About ten years ago, a teensy grapevine made its tentative way from behind the one hosta plant which came with the house, twining thready little tendrils up against the siding. I gave it a little trellis, then as it grew larger the next year, we brought home a big metal wine-rack, left rusting outside a grocery store. It’s in the shape of a bunch of grapes, with each grape a hollowed shell for resting the bottles.

Grapevine climbed, she did, covering the shape, grabbing the gutters, seeking the wires, and made a neat outline around the side door, unused for years. You can see the grape trellis and the original hosta beneath, so glad of the sheltering shade.

Now she covers two humps of the big garage, and has made her way across wires perhaps twenty feet in both directions---one toward the house, and the other branch heading for the back garden.

Rounding that corner, you have a view of the Morning Vista, past the red, white and blue petunias and the small gazing ball which glows at night, across the wide swath of ivy creeping its feet and yards into the lawn, and out to the big old yard bell in the distant shade, and the free-standing gate into the arbor.

The herb beds on the left are so lushly growing, and making welcome such a covering of grass---the month-long rain since we planted all the flower seeds seems to have drowned all but the hardiest of the plants---only the glads are standing proud and tall, and the garlic chives seem to be thriving---perhaps it's their blade-shape so akin to the grass which helps them slice their way into being when the tender little dicots and micro-seeds gave up the battle.

There’s the always-welcoming little sitting area, for a gardeny cup of tea, and I’ll imagine that you're joining me---I’ll brush a leaf from the chair, float a billowy cloth upon the table, set out the pink-flowered cups beneath the Tree Cup Tree, and we’ll have a chat out there in the GREEN.


Marlene said...

Don't worry about a little leaf on the chair...
the tea will be fine...along with one of those
"leftover" chicken salad croissants from the
b'day party. We'll sit and discuss tomato growing and hostas..too hot here in Central Fla.
for either of those! Beautiful.

racheld said...

And you'd be just SO welcome!! I'm afraid that it will take me an hour or so to whip up a new batch of that chicken salad, for the party itself was on the 12th---we've just been a bit under the weather and still tired from all the festivities, so I hadn't posted it til now.

It's some mighty FINE chicken salad---my Mom's recipe, and we've served it to thousands over the years. When Caro managed a deli, she made up a batch every Friday, and two regular customers got into a FISTFIGHT because one got the last pound before the other got there.

But almost all the rest of our friends are sedate, friendly people, so don't go by that.

racheld said...

PS I have several blogs on my roll on the right, and there's an indicator that a new post has been published.

May I ask, if anyone has something like that or just a notice that there's a new post---what comes up when you click on "LAWN TEA"? I've somehow got lost in the Twilight Zone of the PRINCESSESES post, and mine will not bring up the newest post.

It didn't turn over to JULY, and the newest one does not pop up as the latest. Hope it will as soon as today's over.

Anyway---can someone let me know if you're having any trouble with it? Must be my new server.

Marlene said...

I haven't ever had anybody fight over my chicken salad yet, but love making it. I add a cinnamon/clove cucumber pickle (like watermelon pickles.) You and Caro are always making something that looks sooo tasty and I see now it comes with lots of experience.

racheld said...


I can't BELIEVE that's the flavor of yours!!! Mine, too---a whisper of clove. My e-mail's in my profile, if you'd care to share.

Kim Shook said...

I've had that chicken salad and it is the BEST I've ever tasted. Even MY effort at the same recipe was gobbled up in no time atall!

Carolyn said...

Enjoyed taking a walk in your lovely yard. Very restful and that cup of tea sounds just right!
Thanks for taking us along.

Beth at Aunties said...

I so enjoyed my stroll under your special tree and through your beautiful yard. I am truly wanting a delicious chicken salad crossiant right now too!The heat is about killing our veggies and your lokk beautiful.
Thank You so much for your wonderfully kind comment:)
ps I will ahve to try the whisper of clove next time. We just served up about 200 at a wedding here in our yard!

Southern Lady said...

What a lovely sanctuary you and Chris have created, Rachel. Everywhere you look, there are little treasures tucked away (like Effie and the churn and the gazing balls and that beautiful old plantation bell amongst the shrubbery in the back). But I have to agree with you ... the greatest treasure is THE TREE watching over your little paradise.

I know you miss your Little One ... there's nothing any quieter than a house after a grandchild leaves.

Best wishes to you and yours for a very happy and peaceful 4th of July celebration.



Keetha said...

Thanks for sharing your morning with us!

Just lovely.

Penny said...

What a lovely yard. We seem to have a few things in common. We have a tree face as well and I do believe I see a pink flamingo peeking out from behind the trees. I would love it if you posted your chicken salad recipe. Have a great holiday weekend Rachel.

racheld said...

It's so good to hear from everyone---I NEED some hearin' from today!!

You're all SO welcome anywhere we've got---the garden (Not completely done, very weedy in places, and BAD GRASS (poison ivy) cropping up in the fenceline now and then) or the patio or the sitting room or the kitchens or the living room upstairs!!

And PENNY AND BETH, I just sent MARLENE the recipe yesterday---it was included in a post just a couple of months after I started this blog. It's written just like I talk, so translate if you can:


Tonja said...

I so enjoyed seeing the wonderful treasures around your house. So many things that have special meaning! I love the tree, too. And, you won't believe this (well,you will, probably) but in my yard near the poolis a tree that started as one trunk, then split into two. The two trunks are very close together. When my little friend, Lucy Jane, was at my house and we were out by the pool...we talked about that tree...and I told her that I was going to call it the 'kissing tree' from now on. She thought that was so funny. But, I actually have begun to think of it as such.

When we moved to the Creek House, I had to leve my big ole Sweet Gum tree. I loved that tree. It gave its shade so freely to the whole deck and patio. And, it held tree houses and wind chimes and lanterns. I miss it for it became like a friend. You understand just what I mean, I know.

Thanks for sharing your surroundings with us. It's beautiful!

Marlene said...

I thank you so much for the recipe and of course, don't you just know I hied myself right to the store this very morning to get all the extras and a nice plump chicken. And I started at Day One on your blog last night and just like the best book ever...I just could not "put it down" until the wee hrs.

racheld said...

Oh, thank you all for joining in today---I love hearing about your own gardens and homes and things in your lives. I've got a case of the SLUMPS today, and you're just what I need.

I know you've all picked up on my naming and personifying everything we own---most of them are "SHE" for some reason, even TREE, though the face is decidedly masculine, and the ever-growing beard should be a giveaway.

And Marlene, I think that if you're simmering the chicken whole, you'll need a good hour at that gentle bubble to get it succulently tender.
(There's nothing wrong with dropping in some fresh-rolled dumplin's when you take out the chicken).

And THANK YOU for those lovely words about my blog. That's the nicest thing you could have said---I write what I KNOW, and people I make up FROM composites of folks. I'm so glad it interested you.

Linda J. said...

I enjoyed visiting your garden. I'll gladly join you for a nice cup of tea....

Bev said...

I've got the slumps, car accident..not nice. I really enjoyed your garden..I could sit in it for hours and seems like the most welcoming place in the world! Happy Fourth to all you Americans..God Bless.

Kouign Aman said...

A breathe of fresh. Lovely post, again, as always.
We've a gargoyle in our garden, Seymour. My husband made him in school ceramics class when he was 13. I dont know how Seymour has survived the years, but he sits there screaming green and surprising
You've inspired me to want to build a fairy dell. I know just the corner for it, but will I ever get off my hinder parts and do it? It will need shelves, for the bug cages.

Chesapeake said...

Ah, Rachel, one has to visit the comments again and again to see how you have been rightfully lauded. I, too, have tasted the chicken salad, and it is wonderful, as is the deviled eggs. Tried to reproduce the eggs with absolutely no success, but promise I will try the chicken. So busy with squash and beans now. Speaking of beans, yours were a success with the whole family, including grands.

Jeanne said...

Hi Rachel,up and about with no responsibility. Loving it. Not for long though. Summer is busy here. Smile.

I love your stroll through your lovely yard. There is an old fashioned look about it. It is so inviting and through your words it is even more magical.

Thank you so much for the sweet comments you write Rachel. You always make me smile because I don't deserve such glowing words. I consider you a soul friend Rachel.. Sometimes there is a connection between people and that is how I feel about you. A lovely new friend.

Have a wonderful day.
Hugs, Jeanne