Summer Travels and Fall Garden Plans

Our slow, empty summer schedule ended up being anything but slow and empty. I would say I had been lost among the corn and only now found my way out. However, this is not Small Town. They do not grow corn here. Wrong soil. Here it is more likely to be cotton. You can see over those fairly easy. My only, true, excuse for the quietness around here has been lots of traveling and lack of mental energy to sit and write.

Some of our traveling was planned, such as the week camping in the Midwest with some family where we avoided being sprayed by the resident skunks in our campground. The dog enabled me to buy a new tent, a few months earlier than planned, when he decided he wanted inside while we were away from the campground meeting up with some friends. He had made his own door and achieved what he had set out to do.

He was not allowed in the new tent after that.

I may have been slightly passive-aggressive with him a that point.

Some travel was unplanned, such as a week in Kansas with family before they deployed overseas for the next couple of years. Some was work related…not mine, so I did not get to go on those…to cooler regions of our country I have never been to before. Others were somewhat last minute, like the trip to the beach for a long weekend. In all we (a.k.a. me, the kids, and the dog) have driven across a fair number of states this summer. For the most part, due to work schedule or work trips or a combination of those and us trying to save a bit of money overall, my husband has flown on his trips.

Driving had some benefits for me. Not only did we save money on travel, it also offered flexibility on time. I was able to visit with a former co-worker/friend over breakfast on the way through a town were we lived pre-kids. In years past, on his way through to Elsewhere, this friend had stopped by Small Town several times before George and Jack had joined our family. I had not realized it had been over 8 years since we had seen each other. Time flies when you are not paying attention. We had hoped to stop back by on our way back home to visit more, but it had been a long visit with family by that point and we were all ready to be home.

We had spent the night at Mount Nebo State Park on the way back home. It was such a long drive at the end of a long week that I did not think I could do the 12+ hour trip in one go, like I had on the drive out. Beautiful view from the mountain top of this unique, small state park. Note to self – let the kids keep watching videos next time you decide to set up a tent in the dark, hours past bed time, on top of an unknown mountain, where you can not see anything…including the kids who set off looking for sticks to use as swords instead of helping you set up. You will save a bunch of time and sanity.

In among the traveling and random day trips/events, the kids had a few day-camps scheduled. I had anticipated these being our only out-of-home things this summer. Turned out they were instead much needed breaks apart for all of us. (This is what happens when you take several long road trips with only you, kids, and the dog. By the way, the dog did great each time. The rest of us could have learned more from him.) Both camps went so well I think we will do them again next year. The fact that Jack looked forward to morning #2, talked ecstatically about them afterwards, and never had reports back from the adults really showed me how much he has matured this past year. There were many days I did not think we would ever get here.

As for the garden…

While June found a lot of the country drowning from excess moisture we were having a heat wave and drought. July finally brought some much needed rain too late to save my early summer crops.

The vine plants I put on a trellis turned out not to be cucumbers. Not watermelon. They were instead flowers. Hope the insects appreciate them because I am needing to buy cucumbers from the store now.

We had several giant sunflowers sprout and grow well. However, the heat has taken its toll. Their heads are so heavy they can not hold them up with the lack of rain we have had. Next year I want to plant them all along the back fence, perhaps a variety with smaller heads.

While my regular sized tomatoes have struggled the cherry tomatoes are doing better. The horn worms have stayed away. I added a few plants to the garden via rooting stem cuttings. Even in the heat I am gathering about a handful a day from the four or five plants which survived and are currently producing.

Hazelnut shrubs are doing better once I started watering them. As is the magnolia, though I need to get some spray for scale. Hand removal helped but they are not going away.

One of the two blackberry shrubs died. The strawberry plants/daughters transferred well. Next year I need some sort of insect cover so I can also enjoy some of their goodness.

The biggest visual change is the mulch I decided to buy and add myself. I was having trouble finding it from a local tree company and the cardboard “mulch” look was getting a bit trashy looking. Many bags of un-dyed mulch later and it is looking better. 20-40 more bags are needed to finish getting the shape I want and to add to front beds.

The rest of the summer will hopefully find me planting a fall garden, finishing up the mulch, and overall finishing outdoor projects I started. I want things to be in a ‘finished’ state before moving on to anything else.