A Riot of Color and Feline Memories

Today has been a good day.  Went to the gym (bright and early) with the husband for a cycling class, then headed to a local store to buy flowers.  Lots of flowers.  For my flower pots and one bed next to the back patio.  After that, we headed to the local farmer’s market (we have an exceptionally good one in town) and bought vegetables for a small garden we’re going to put in.  We then came home and I got all of the pots planted while the husband worked on other outdoor projects. Tomorrow we’ll plant the vegetables.

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

First, a word about The Homestead.  I love our property.  Lush and green.  Our house is surrounded by alder and maple, with a few fir and cedar.  The house has lots of windows, which means lots of light.  What we didn’t realize when we bought the place is that it’s in a hole.  A swampy hole.  The soil?  Clay.  The Puget Sound? Close (though no view for us).  The moss?  We grow a fine, fine crop.  There’s a corner of the back yard that is squishy year-round.  In the winter we have a stream that runs along the edge of the back yard…water run-off.

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.comBecause the house is so light we didn’t realize that the property is a bit shady. Add shade with clay and, well, growing things (besides moss and ferns) can be a challenge.  As you can see, the rhododendrons do very well.  And we do have some sunny spots, which the red hot poker enjoys.

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

The back patio gets afternoon sun.  And “the island” in the middle of our circular drive gets good sun (there are a couple of 8×8 beds out there, which is where we’ll put the garden).  I grow beautiful dahlias.  And the iris is doing very well this year.

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.comSo, all things considered, I’m not really complaining.

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.comMy Dad made me the glass plate flower above.  Isn’t it pretty?  Especially with the rhodie behind it.

So, anyways, planting stuff today.  I gathered all of my tools and got to work.  Out front is where I put the shade-lovers.  And the pansies I planted a couple of months ago are going gang-busters, so they’ll remain in a prominent spot on the front porch.

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.comI worked steadily, emptying old dirt, refilling with new, dragging large bags of potting soil around.  The bees worked steadily on the rhodie next to the front porch, creating a pleasant hum to work by.

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.comAfter finishing up the front I loaded all of the remaining flowers and my tools into the Gorilla Cart and wheeled it around to the back.  If you do not have a Gorilla Cart and garden I highly recommend one.  We bought ours a couple of years ago from Costco and it is amazing.  Holds anything you throw into it, has heavy wheels that don’t lose air (at least ours haven’t) and the entire bed of the cart lifts, making dumping a breeze.  It was lined with a tarp so the used potting soil didn’t fall through…the husband power washed a couple of weeks ago and didn’t appreciate me scattering dirt on the porch, patio and driveway.

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.comIn the back I was lulled by the whir of hummingbird wings as they jostled for a place at the feeder that I refilled this morning.  I began with the wave petunias. Wave, little petunia, wave.  I have two large terra cotta pots that sit side-by-side. Every year I plant one wave petunia in each.  By July they will be overflowing and will have grown together in one colorful mass.

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.comI then began on the big pot.  I do love a clean slate.

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

I also planted herbs:  basil, thyme and cilantro.  A friend has mint for me.  Very excited to get the mint.  I’m already dreaming of warm summer afternoons with a mojito in my hand.

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

As I worked I began thinking of the voice that I wasn’t hearing this year.  Our cat Slater, who, as I’ve previously mentioned, we lost to cancer in December, was an indoor girl.  An emphatically indoor girl.  I adopted her from a local rescue group when she was 2 or 3.  She was running with a feral cat colony when they humanely trapped her.  I think that she figured, by the time she got to me, that she had put in her time on the streets and she was never going to do it again.  She was not one of those cats who ran for the door when you opened it.  Outdoors was a thing to watch from a distance.  Inside to her was a world of soft furniture, a litter box and a full food dish.  Outside could not compete.  However, in the summer, when the weather was warm, she liked to come out on the patio with us and hang out.

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.comShe only wanted to be out if we were outside.  Well, correction, if it was an exceptionally nice day she might sit at the screen door and whine to go out.  But, she didn’t want to go out alone.  She wanted company.  Being outside alone was scary.  That’s how she rolled.  The collar and twine is because she was a bit of a freak and I was afraid, if something startled her, she would go out of her mind and get lost.  Rather attached to that cat was I.

However, when I was planting flowers I wasn’t thinking of her being out there with me.  She didn’t want out if we were working outside.  She only wanted out if we were lounging.  And she would lounge with us.  What she would have been doing, was she with me today, was something like this:

A Riot of Color, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

Yes, her mouth is hanging open a bit.  She was mid-bawl.  She was a talker, our Slater.  She had an opinion about everything…and she wasn’t afraid to share her thoughts.  Today, she would have been standing right there, nose pressed against the screen, bawling at me.  Not to come out.  No.  Because I was working.  The bawl would have been either, “Come inside…sit on the couch with the cat.  Love the cat.  Pet the cat,” or it would have been, “Quit working and let me outside.  But you have to sit in a patio chair.  And hang with the cat.  Whilst I wind my twine around the patio furniture.  For you to unwind.  While you’re petting me.  And loving me.”

Such good memories.  But, man, do I miss that girl of mine.  She was exceptional.

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