Monday, July 29, 2013
Horse Heaven, so I kept thinking about that as I watched the horses being readied for their races. Smiley gives a good picture of the many facets of thoroughbred racing.
This is the 150th anniversary of horse racing in Saratoga. If you've never been, there are many ways to explore the track. Check out breakfast at the track or just bring your own McMuffin and watch the early morning workouts. You can take a tour of the Oklahoma Training Track and backstretch through the National Museum of Racing. Or just plunk down three bucks and spend a pleasant day among some beautiful animals. And if you decide to take a flutter (make a bet) but are shy about what to do, the friendly guys in the red vests will explain it all to you. You have until September 2, and then it all disappears until next year.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Battenkill Valley in Washington County, New York, and we always go to the MacClan Farm with its charming Gardenworks farm store to pick our berries.
After picking my fill of blueberries, I like to have a visit with the chickens...
...and the sheep...
When I return home, I always freeze most of the blueberries I've picked. Throughout the coming winter, I will occasionally make Sunday morning blueberry pancakes. On a cold January day, how I will savor the taste of summer blueberries from the Battenkill Valley, picked with friends.
Last night, the Handsome Husband and I headed out to Congress Park in downtown Saratoga Springs.
Neither of us had ever seen The Merry Wives of Windsor before, so it was a new experience. This version was set in 1920s Saratoga and they worked in some racetrack elements. Not enough so that it was intrusive, but seemed to me a good choice for a casual summer outdoor audience.
Today, Sunday afternoon, is the final performance of Merry Wives, but the company plans to return next year. If you've never been, make a note to check them out next summer. And don't forget to bring a picnic supper. It truly makes for a lovely, elegant way to spend a summer evening.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Pickerelweed at the outflow of Lake Desolation, Middle Grove, NY.
I met up this morning with a group of intrepid adventurers, the Thursday Naturalists, to explore a bog in western Saratoga County, near Lake Desolation. Now when I say a "bog", I mean a place that in parts had boot-sucking mud, no trails, fallen trees to climb over, and thickets of dense vegetation to push through.
There were fourteen of us and I would guess that the average age of these hardy explorers was at least 72. I know for certain that one of our most experienced leaders is 86. No rocking chairs for these folks, not while there are adventures in the wild to be had!
Today, we were in search of this lovely plant, below, and we found a good number of them. It's the Virginia Chain Fern.
This fern can be identified by the "chains" on the underside of the fronds, which are the sori or spore-producing bodies. To me, this looks like beautiful, careful embroidery stitches.
Further into this enchanted bog, we saw witches' brooms. Witches’ broom is actually a disease of highbush blueberries caused by a rust fungus.
The diseased plants grow these broom-like masses of shoots, which then wither to twigs.
There were also many healthy and heavily laden blueberry bushes and we all helped ourselves as we bushwhacked our way along.
Mountain holly was here, too, although I did not sample these berries,
And here below was sundew, a carnivorous plant. Would I ever have noticed this on my own? I fear not.
Here was Labrador tea, a friendlier plant, which I am told makes a pleasant, spicy drink if picked before it flowers.
Now, here at last, below, was what I had hoped to see today: a native orchid. This one is the green wood orchid. Until recently, I did not know that there are about 60 species of orchids that are native to New York. Again, on my own, I would have walked right by it. (Those leaves in the photo are not part of the orchid.)
There were pitcher plants aplenty, many in bloom. This, too, is a carnivorous plant.
The flower hangs downward but when I looked below, the fruit of the plant was already formed.
We finally reached the shore of the lake, where lovely water lilies continued the fairy tale feel of the place.
Walking back, we saw buttonbush ...
... and meadow sweet...
... and the large tropical-looking leaves of green arrow arum.
Emerging from the bog, all I could think was, Where are we going next week?
Thursday, July 18, 2013
It's about a thousand degrees out today, with humidity at five hundred percent, at least. So where does our auxiliary dog, Shea, wish to hang out? Outdoors in the full, blazing noontime sun.
This Puerto Rican import (adopted from Adirondack Save-A-Stray seven years ago) eschews all shade and prefers to bake in the sun, no matter how hot. Please notice, she's not even panting.
Our primary dog, however, comes from northern Germanic roots (she's a Spitz, now called an American Eskimo Dog.) And while her foolish friend bakes outside, Daisy wisely seeks out a cool bare wood floor indoors, near an air conditioning vent.
Different strokes for different folks.
Today, I'm sticking with Daisy.
Daisy was adopted from the good folks at the SPCA of Upstate New York in Queensbury about eight years ago.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Am I old fashioned, environmentally conscious, or just déclassé? Whatever the answer is, come "good drying weather", out goes my laundry to soak up the sun's rays and the fresh air. I can't help it; I swear it's in my blood.
When I was a child, our mother would be up doing laundry at the crack of dawn. Before any of the rest of us stirred, she would have a load or two of clothes already hung out on the clothesline. Mom eschewed electric dryers as wasteful and didn't own one for most of her life. Since she was the daughter of a dentist and the wife of an IBM engineer, I choose not to see this as a class thing. Perhaps her background was the very thing that gave her the confidence to keep using a clothesline long after most homemakers had abandoned them. Mom was also, however, a child of the Depression and frugality stuck to her like superglue.
I do own a dryer and confess that for most of the year, that is what I use. But come a hot July morn, I feel the call to get out there and let the sun dry our sheets and towels for free. Hanging out laundry is a peaceful, quiet, satisfying way to start a day. I guess that was what my mother discovered, too.
~My friend Anne has been posting some lovely photos of the varied daylilies and other flora in her July garden. For her, I send back this, a photo from my own garden. This yellow daylily was glowing neon-like against the darker foliage in the early morning light today. Another perk of being out and about early, hanging up laundry: you see things in a different light.
Our resident chipmunk was up early today, too, already mulling things over in the flowering plum tree near our front door. He (she?) likes to survey the neighborhood from this low horizontal branch. Yup, it's summertime and the livin' is easy, isn't it, Mr. Munk?