Mr. Turtle is back

Mr. Turtle

Mr. Turtle

With all of the warm weather lately, I have been spending some of my mornings in the flowerbeds.  The nice temperatures and intermittent rains have started the morning weeding chores.  I had just finished one of the lower beds to the side of my studio and when I got up, there was Mr. Turtle almost beside me in the grass.  He was trucking right along (for a turtle, anyway) to the beds next to the gazebo.  I had been concerned about him after the sticky paper incident last fall because I hadn’t seen him after we cleaned and then freed him, so this was so wonderful for me to see.

I raced back into the house to get my camera.  By the time I got back he had moved under the edge of the evergreen shrubs where I had been weeding.  Much to his dismay, I plucked him up and set him down a few feet away so I could take his picture.  Shortly thereafter he continued on his journey.  I hope to see him often over the summer.  We’re kind of like pals after all of these years.

The secret lives of grills?

Winter grillin"

Winter grillin”

It must be very boring to spend most of the winter backed up against the garage.  No view of the riotous antics of the local wildlife, no sight of the pond frozen over, hemmed in by snow drifts on the deck.

We had very gusty winds last weekend and it appears that Mr. Grill wanted a better view of the lake.  You can see the little dark spot on the deck next to the garage wall where he should have been, but he managed to convince Mr. Wind to help him get out and about.  I think he has been secretly talking to the crane weather vane that is supposed to be atop the gazebo, but also managed to get Mr. Wind to help him fly off into the yard for a bit of extra fun last summer.  Good thing he didn’t head off towards the back of the garage though – I don’t think Mr. Wind would have helped him down the step at all and someone could have gotten hurt!.

After all of the winter weather, I am totally ready for spring.

Eight pounds of pawpaws

After a brief trip for a memorial service, I have gotten back home and am catching up on many things. I finally finished tweaking the dog portrait pencil drawing and have started the inking. I made some minor alterations to the left dog, but that right one has given me fits. I ended up changing the left eye and fooled around with his muzzle to where I didn’t see Tramp so much. It’s not ready to show quite yet, but I should be into the watercolors by Sunday.

A pile of pawpaws

A pile of pawpaws

Among other things happening in the last few days, I decided that we needed to have a pawpaw expedition.  The weather here is starting to change.  It is supposed to rain tomorrow and the temperatures are dropping, so it seemed a good idea to have a major hunt for the pawpaws.  We found quite a few as you can see, not including about four pounds that went home with a friend. However I think we should have gone out a week or two ago.  Some that we had noticed on earlier walks were no longer there or were way too ripe, but we still ended up with a good haul.  I think next year, I’ll have to pick more in mid September.  The kitchen smells heavily of ripe fruit and I will need to get most of it into the freezer soon.

Do you even know what a pawpaw is?

A single paw paw hanging down

A single paw paw hanging down

I sure didn’t until earlier this summer. When I was out picking blackberries with a friend, she noticed that there were a lot of small pawpaw trees in the field we were in.  There was no fruit on the smaller trees she pointed out, but I knew I had seen them before.  As we walked our path around the property, I saw literally hundreds of pawpaw trees.  We started looking for fruit and sure enough we finally saw some.  It is not like domesticated fruit trees where there are dozens hanging down.  Most trees had none and when we did see some, it was usually only one or a very few.

The mother lode

The mother lode

Still, with so many trees we have found dozens. I got myself dizzy walking the path and looking up at the same time. LOL    The tree trunks are slender and very bendable.  I could grab the trunk and literally pull it over to reach the high hanging fruit. I managed to pick one that was ripe a couple of weeks ago and the consensus was that it tasted somewhat like a ripe banana.  I picked a few more today.  The smallest  one is ripe but  I am not quite sure about the other two.  Still, I picked them just to experiment on how soft they need to be before they can be eaten.  I am going to go on line and look for some recipes later.  I am not fond of ripe bananas, but John liked the way they tasted.  I’m thinking that I might make a banana bread recipe and use the pawpaws instead.  The consistency was about the same.

I picked these today

I picked these today

The size variation is pretty big as you can see.  And in the picture above with the four, the largest one has to be close to 5″ long.  The pawpaw is the largest native American fruit according to Wikipedia but I hadn’t ever noticed them before.

I have been working outside some and straightening up in the studio lately, so not much creative work has been accomplished except for a few gift tags and cards to list in my etsy shop.  I have been talking to several people about commission work so maybe the holiday season purchasing has begun.  With any luck we can work out the details and I can start something very soon.  Or maybe I’ll just paint the these.  There probably aren’t too may paintings of pawpaws out there, do you think?

The path

I have talked about the path John and Justin cut on the southern half perimeter of our property and I thought a few pictures might be of interest. It took them several weekends of hard labor to clear a path 5-8′ wide, but it has been worth the work.  It is about 1.4 miles long according to the gps, but I don’t know if that is horizontal distance or includes all of the ups and downs which would make it a lot longer.  It sure feels longer.  The north perimeter is up next, maybe in the fall.  Eventually 3 miles of steep, up and down walking  will be great.

We have been trying to walk it as many mornings of the week as we can.  Some weeks are better than others of course, given the weather and various other activities (like berry picking which has priority.)  We haven’t scared up much wildlife yet while walking.  Probably that’s when they have decided to chew on my plants by the house.  Paw paw trees were just pointed out to me and I have seen quite a few, especially on the east end where a few actually had some fruit.  According to what I have read they are not ripe yet.  I have never tasted one so it will be interesting if we can actually get some ripe ones.  I don’t know what else might eat them before us.

The east entry, from the big field on top of the hill.

The east entry, from the big field on top of the hill.

Along the eastern border.

Along the eastern border.

Deeper into the woods.

Deeper into the woods.

Farther along the way.

Farther along the way.

Maybe the biggest tree on the property.  See one of it's fallen branches off to the left?

Maybe the biggest tree on the property. See one of it’s fallen branches off to the left?

My little wrist watch hung on the side to give a little bit of scale.  the diameter of this tree has to be 30-36".

My little wrist watch hung on the side to give a little bit of scale. the diameter of this tree has to be 30-36″.

This one cracks me up.  How did it fall straight on itself?  The top is longer than the trunk shown here.

This one cracks me up. How did it fall straight on itself? The top is longer than the trunk shown here.

Can you see the barb wire fence?  It used to keep the cows out, but they've been gone for a while.

Can you see the barb wire fence? It used to keep the cows out, but they’ve been gone for a while.