A perfect little piece of sunshine

June 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Posted in 4th of July, country life, gardening, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, photography, socks, summer, travel, yarn | 1 Comment
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Every year, right about the 4th of July, our wild raspberries start turning from pale red to deep, almost black purple.  At first you just see one here or there, then the next day another three or four.  And it builds that way until suddenly there are shiny purple wild raspberries in such abundance that you can’t pick them fast enough to eat, preserve, bake and so forth.  Our started turning a little bit early this year, but they are turning slowly day by day.

Our baby grand-daughter got her first opportunity to stand in front of the berry canes and pick, eat, pick, eat, pick, eat with her chubby little hands in that rapid fire way the little kids do.  Oh, how that took me back to my childhood.

I remember standing at the edge of the woods, just inside (on the wooded side) a fence at the edge of our neighbor’s yard where concord grapes were growing.  There I was doing that rapid fire pick, eat, pick, eat, pick, eat.  Only, I was being naughty because those were our neighbor’s grapes and I was picking and eating them secretly; perhaps they tasted sweeter because of my misbehavior, I don’t know.

My husband noted these early raspberries of ours taste flat, and that he hopes for some sunshine to warm and nourish them enough to create more sugar over the next few days so they will be sweet and flavorful.  We have made so much more rain and overcast days this spring and into summer that it will be interesting to see how it affects the various berries and fruits coming in over the course of the summer. We are blessed to live on this beautiful farm, and to have a super abundance of wild raspberries that show up of their own accord, volunteering to berry us abundantly each July.

My son is in Los Angeles at this time, so he will miss out on the plentiful berries this July 4th, but hopefully will be able to get back in time for peaches in August. Either way, he will receive some jars of my homemade wild raspberry preserves from this year’s crop.

The last two days have been quite cool with a pushy, chilly breeze blowing most of the time.  Today the breeze has slowed down, but the air is still surprisingly cool for a summer morning. I stepped out to see if I could find a spot where I could photograph a new sock I am design-knitting for my grand-daughter (more on that in a moment) and thought I would try the spot where we  found the early ripe raspberries.  Rounding a corner, I saw this one little clump of not-ripe raspberries with the most perfect little piece of sunshine illuminating it.  I bent down quickly to grab a photograph before the light changed, and the moment I landed on my knee I heard the tiniest little flutter.  I looked and there was a chubby little baby bird sitting on the raspberries canes right behind that little clump of berries.  Startled, I gasped as my eyes widened and I’m pretty sure he did the same thing.  We stared right at each other for a split second and then he hopped off, landed on the ground where his little brother was waiting for him and then they both flitted away before I could do anything other than notice what had just happened.

Of course, it all happened far too rapidly for me to be able to capture any of it with my camera.  I was able to capture the perfect little piece of sunshine embracing the clump up of berries — and you see that shot at the very top of today’s blog.

Thank you world, universe, and God for aligning all of the ingredients for that perfect moment and affording me the opportunity to witness it.

Magic.

As for the sock knitting, or knitting at all, here is the story. For the past several months it has been somewhat impossible to knit because of a certain little munchkin who seems to be all fingers whenever I settle down to relax and have a knit. The grabbing, the pulling, the wrestling … it all makes for very fitfull, not relaxed knitting that almost happens and then has to be abandoned fairly rapidly. I had to abandon my own Summer in the Country Cotton Blanket knit along, sadly, because it was just too large and when the munchkin (aka Sweetpea) would grab it, I felt too much stress worrying that my needles would get pulled out of 241 stitches that would be very difficult to get back ahold of. So, I set it aside until she is a bit older.

I am longing, however, to knit some socks — for the munchkin, and for myself. So, last weekend I purchased a pair of Kollage square dpns in size U.S. 1 from a seller on eBay — they arrived in Monday’s mail, which was awesome — and I got started on a pair of socks for Sweetpea. I’m using left over yarn from the Little Violet Who Christmas Stocking I design-knitted for her first Christmas from Kimber Baldwin Designs (Fiber Optic Yarns). Her hanks of yarn are so generous that I was able to knit that over-sized Christmas Stocking and still have plenty of yarn left over. The socks I am making are designed to have a slouch with some body, and feature a stripe pattern similar to Little Violet Who, but knit on these much tinier needles the fabric looks quite different. I also added a little ridge detail at the bottom of each stripe for a bit more visual interest and body.

Miracle of miracles, although she did grab at my knitting pretty much the moment I got started, she is now leaving me along and I am actually able to accomplish something. It is such a relief to be able to relax in this way again, and I appreciate her cooperation so very much. I love the fact that she is interested in the yarn and the needles; I gave her a partial skein of some yarn I knew I wasn’t going to use for anything and a large crochet hook so she could do her own “needlework” and that helped satisfy her desire to grab my project.

I might have enough yarn left to make a matching hat, or I might make some little wrist warmers — it depends on what I have left over.

Well, summer is out there calling my name through each of our forty windows, in the singing of the birds, and with the ripening of the berries. I need to pay attention to what it is telling me … what is summer saying to you today?

~firefly

P.S. If you didn’t get a chance to read last week’s post, check it out for information about the loveliest summer art trail … Artists of The Oak in Orleans County … coming up this August 27th right in our own backyard! (Literally.)

Magic moments of light

July 25, 2007 at 2:46 pm | Posted in 4th of July, blogging, country living, dating, dogs, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, gifts, knitting, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, scarf patterns, summer, yarn | 19 Comments

In my photography and painting, it is the magic of light and shadow I love most and hope most to capture and communicate. When I look at life outside our livingroom window, or driving down a country road, or as I wait on the bank of the river by our cottage while my husband mows the lawn, I see bits and pieces of light at times that cause me to catch my breath because in those fleeting moments of perfect light I see God.

In Western New York I find many magic moments of light in my mornings and evenings. Golden hour, that ninety minute interval in early morning and again each evening when light turns gold and shadows long, is especially lovely here because of our latitude and also because of the lush growth of trees and shrubs.

More Magic Golden Light at Fireflys CottageThe many branches heavy with leaves crowded together in tight stands create a fantastic texture of light and shadow, casting singular momentary importance on a portion of trunk, a piece of lawn, a particular wild flower. The light gently points out the fact that we are surrounded with perfect beauty in all the little details of life … it beckon us to take notice, take a moment out of a busy life to appreciate some small, seemingly meaningless, detail.

Back in June, just before I went to Los Angeles, Blu and I went over to the cottage one evening to meet up with my husband. He was there mowing the lawn on the upper part above the river, and wanted us to be there when he went down to the river level to mow the lawn by the boat house. My husband wanted to introduce Blu to the river and see how he would respond to water.

It was a beautiful evening. Blu enjoyed sniffing every square inch of lawn, dock, boat house, river bank, etc. he could get his nose to … over and over and over again as I sat with him and my husband finished up the lawn. Afterwards, the three of us spent some time walking along the dock, looking in the water at fish, and hearing the quiet sounds of evening.

Blu is about to go in for a dunk at Fireflys cottageShortly after this shot was taken, Blu slipped right off the dock into the water, dunking fully under and treading water frantically below the surface and looking up at us with eyes wide open. My husband reached in quickly and pulled him straight up and out by the collar. Blu was a little bit startled for a moment, shook himself off briskly and then didn’t seem to care what had just happened to him.

I suppose that answered my husband’s curiosity as to how he would react to water. Fourth of July weekend we had a little barbeque at the farm with some friends. At one point we drove up to Lake Ontario (just a few minutes drive away) and spent a bit of time playing in the water with Blu. It was his first time attempting to catch or fetch a stick thrown into waves on a shoreline. It was great fun, and he seems to love water quite well. I was amazed at how warm the water was that day and enjoyed my own time splashing around at least as much as Blu enjoyed his.

Fireflys Hand Knit Girl Friend ScarfPictured here is a scarf I made as a gift for my son’s girlfriend. When I was in California, she was in Hawaii and she left her car at my son’s place for me to borrow while I was there. I wanted to give her this scarf as a token of thanks for her consideration.

I have promised to share the pattern for this scarf, and it is an entirely easy one. I used two balls of Berroco’s incredibly soft “Plush” nylon yarn in Crema (color number 1901) on size U.S. 8 needles. I cast on 18 stitches, which made a nice narrow scarf about five inches wide. I used straight knitting until the piece was about fifty-six inches long, then I cast off.

Fireflys Hand Knit Girl Friend Scarf Detail ShotTo decorate it, I used scraps of a bronze colored ribbon yarn (I don’t know what the brand was, it was just ribbon yarn I have had a few balls of for quite some time) to make little bows, which I scattered along both ends of the scarf and a few in the body of the scarf — all on the “right” side. To make the the bows, I threaded a short piece of the ribbon yarn into a tapestry needle, and then pulled it through one stitch of the scarf. Then I tied the ribbon yarn into a tight little bow and trimmed the ends to even them up.

Next I took a few vintage turqoise buttons from my collection and sewed them on top of a few of the bows, again a little bit randomly rather than in any particular order. I only sewed buttons on bows that were at the ends of the scarf, but you could sew them on anywhere. I also sewed a couple of buttons directly onto the scarf, rather than on top of a bow.

Delicious Strawberries from Fireflys Amish NeighborsI’m calling this the “Girl Friend Scarf” and will post the pattern on the I Live on a Farm website soon … but you have the directions for it right here in my blog. It is a sweet little scarf, and perfect (I think) for a lovely young woman who lives in Southern California.

Time for me to take a break and have a cup o’ tea. Wish I still had some of these delicious sweet strawberries from our Amish neighbors up the road. Alas, this photo is from way back in June and fresh local strawberries are now a thing of the past. I’ll just have to use my imagination to eat a handful of them this morning.

Best to you and yours,
~firefly

From Sea to Shining Sea: Western New York

July 4, 2007 at 12:03 pm | Posted in 4th of July, blogging, country living, dogs, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, gardening, Holidays, knitting, love, marriage, pets, photography, Pike's Peak Project, relationships, romance | 9 Comments

Beautiful Barn in Western New YorkFrom the top of Pike’s Peak, according to the inspiration behind “America the Beautiful”, a person can see from sea to shining sea across the beautiful land that is America. Today, this 4th of July in 2007, we handful of bloggers have launched the Pike’s Peak Project to give a view of America in word and photograph that does truly stretch from sea to shining sea.

This project began as a tribute to my brother, Dan, who passed away just over two years ago. Dan loved America, the view from Pike’s Peak, and the song that lies at the foundation of this project. If you could sit down with Dan today and tell him what you find beautiful in your piece of America, he would take the time to listen and he would be genuinely interested. He would see the beauty you see, his face would brighten into a very specific “Dan” smile. You would feel that whatever it is you love about your piece of this land or America in general was truly appreciated and validated through his friendly eyes and jolly smile.

If I could tell Dan today what I find most beautiful about Western New York my focus would be on the barns standing sentinel over … amber waves of grain.

barn1.jpgI would tell him, “Dan, I never would have thought there would be such farmland and such barns in the state of New York as I have found since I came to live here.” I would have to tell him that I am entirely in love with this state of New York, and with Western New York in particular. Each time we drive any place at all, we see barns. Barns of every size and state of repair.

Grand old barns, immense in size, gently falling to their knees from age and weather. Small, quaint barns both neat and tidy and worn and disheveled. Some are quite old and burdened by their load of time and wear, but when I see them I feel reassured because through years and generations and seasons beyond my meager life, these barns have stood silently supporting the men and women before me in this little part of the world. These barns have stood as guardians through the endeavors, mistakes, hopes, losses, and dreams of the people who loved and worked this land. They gave dependable shelter to seed, livestock, feed, tools … even sleepy or exhausted human beings at times.

gourd3.jpgAnd even now when their boards and beams fail them, they continue to stand as best they can, and they will continue to do so. These barns of Western New York exemplify the best of the human spirit to me. They hold within their airy walls many ghosts and visions of times past, of struggles and successes of varying degrees with as always present persistence to continue the course come what may. When I gaze upon our barns, I see much more than the temporary material vision of today’s view. I see vignettes of times and people past at happy, productive moments in their lives and in the life of this land.

The barns of America stretch from sea to shining sea, giving us a continuity of life gone by as well as life that is today being created. Whether those barns are new and well kept or tired and fading, they are an essential element of our heritage and livelihood. Like the tiny, fledgling yet tenacious grasp of an up and coming gourd plant these barns hold our hopes and dreams with a firmness and determination that belies their sometimes fragile stance.

These barns, they do us proud.

That’s what I would say to Dan today about my piece of America.

In response, he would smile through sparkling eyes.

~firefly

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