A Sad Farewell

Long before there was a housing development, there was a farm.  And long before the Miller Family Farm, there was a tree.  According to local legend, the tree anchored the original home site. I can only imagine the Miller Family was as drawn to its stately presence as we were.

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While its true age eludes us, it is fair to say that this gentle giant has witnessed a lot – families coming and go, children attempting to climb its massive branches, horses and buggies replaced with automobiles, and the glow of streets lights piercing the darkness.

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For two years we’ve wrestled with the reality that it would have to come down.  The legendary oak tree was dying and a hazard.  Large, heavy branches would fall in the middle of the night and the base was beginning to rot.  We even had an “anonymous” neighbor send a picture and complaint to Town Hall (by the way, I know who you are).

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So, this weekend the tree came down.  It took a crew of six and five hours.  The house shook every time another a section fell.  I left midway through the process and didn’t return until it was finished and the crew was gone.
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It’s still strange to walk out the front door or round the corner onto our street and not see it.  Eventually we’ll get used to it.

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There is also an enormous sense of relief having it gone.  I won’t lie awake at night in a panic every time the wind begins to blow, or worry about a branch falling on one of us while we’re tending to the flowers or enjoying our front yard.  But we’ll miss its grandeur.  We’ll miss imagining what secrets the giant oak held.

Fall planting (and a fresh coat of paint)

I remember the exact moment I fell in love with fall – it was October of my freshman year of college while driving from Eastern Tennessee to Raleigh, North Carolina. The mountains were on fire with shades of red and orange. It took my breath away.

Growing up in North Dakota, fall lasted about a month before it snowed on Halloween. The opportunities to enjoy fall foliage were limited, to say the least.

Now, not only do I have amazing color in my backyard, but I have a garden in which to plant a fall crop.

That said, it took several weeks for us to finally get all of our fall planting finished – mainly because it was so HOT!! 

My first attempt was Labor Day weekend.  After gathering up my tools and seeds…

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… I managed to plant a couple rows of radishes and carrots and spread some compost before downing a bottle of Gatorade and retreating from the 95 degree heat.

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The next week we tackled the tomato plants.  I trimmed back the bottom growth and the vines that were no longer producing and used them to start a fresh batch of compost.

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I also pulled up all but one of the green bean plants to make room on the trellis for peas.

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We then planted pea seeds.  I decided to give them a second chance since it was already too hot when I started the plants in the spring.  We sowed a row on each side of the trellis.

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The next week we planted more spinach, lettuce and mesclun mix.  We also harvetsed another large bowl of peppers, beans, and tomatoes.

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Our hard work is paying off!  The radishes came up immediately.

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The peas are now beginning to climb the trellis and there are even a few carrot tops!

I also decided to brighten up the garden with paint.  While I don’t regret my decision to build the raised bed with cement blocks, it resembled a concrete fortress in our backyard.

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I thought a nice shade of green would keep it from being an eye sore, especially during the dreary winter months.  I only painted the outside so that we don’t run the risk of paint leaching into the soil.  I am absolutely in love with the result!

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