APRIL 2019, ISSUE #215

This month we attended a birthday party in Bynum, a wedding at The Plant, reflected upon our own wedding vows, and ambled over to Jordan Lake for their Environmental Futures Fair where we pet a corn snake. We puzzled over backyard flora and fauna, enjoyed dinner with a new friend, got new eyeglasses and a vanity plate, planted more stuff in the garden, and stuck a plastic dinosaur on one of our property pins.



A Tiger Swallowtail butterfly—probably an Appalachian but perhaps an Eastern—”puddling” (sipping moisture and minerals from a wet spot) in our driveway beneath the shade of a willow oak. This is most likely a boy butterfly because males are way more likely to be found sipping from puddles than females.
It is challenging to tell the two species apart because the Appalachians are a hybrid of Eastern and Canada Swallowtails. According to Side by Side Swallowtails, the Appalachian tends to be a little larger than the Eastern, are usually a paler yellow with a straighter edge to the yellow in the fore wing, and have a longer hind wing. If you have a guess or an opinion, please let us know.




We harvested 20 grams of morels but did not get to eat them. After letting them sit for an hour we found that the bugs had already gotten to them. Next year we’ll try and catch the morels at the beginning of their bloom. The figs appear to be a bust as well, but we will see. The fruits are few and getting fewer as some force of nature is causing them to emerge and then shrivel as if changing their minds.




If you can count on anything here in the south, it’s sweet potatoes and we are pretty sure to get a healthy crop from our window-started slips.



We helped Matt celebrate 40 years on the planet at his home in Bynum along with his family and friends. Bob wore his Ghanaian-made batik shirt stamped with the Adinkra “Agye Nyame” symbol. Camille brought a basket of homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.



At The Plant and witnessed by a buoyant crowd of well-wishers. Among other things, they promised to tell the truth even when afraid of the consequences and to reach beyond their anger in search of the underlying fear. The seriousness of their vows was counterbalanced by a banjo-picked version of John Prine’s “Spanish Pipedream”. We love weddings because they afford us an opportunity to renew our own vows.




The wedding tents stand idle on a rain-soaked lawn which forced the wedding party into one of the buildings for plan “B.” We were impressed by the bride’s practical footwear. We were also happy to hear that James and Rose’s first order of business as man and wife was a tropical honeymoon. After months of planning for, and surviving, the most important day of their lives they were wise to give themselves time to unwind and cocoon.




It will be 25 years in July since we promised to “stand beside each other always” and pledged “our love, respect, and faithfulness.” We also promised to “share all our joy and abundance as well as all of our burdens, until the end of time.”




What you show the world should match the richness going on inside. This month Bob splurged on his first pair of new eyeglasses in 7 years, a professional haircut (thanks, Amy!), and a custom Troutsfarm plate for our pal, Val. Camille writes about branding and solitude in “Making Our Mark” at Plastic Farm Animals.



Jenny and her squeeze, Trip, joined us for a walk in the woods, general frivolity, and dinner. Spot was excited because new friends are few and far between these days at Trouts Farm.




The Sunken Gardens of Moncure are heavy with potatoes this time of year. We have also planted peppers and tomatoes, and carrots, Brussels sprouts, tomatillos, and leeks. By the end of the month, we had all of our ginger in the ground, along with those sweet potato slips, and peanuts. Fingers crossed on those peanuts which have been in storage for a couple of years.




Container gardens are definitely the way to go, although filling them with a mix of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite takes some doing. But that only needs to be done once and then it’s downhill. These five containers sit along the back of the fenced garden, populated with squash, ground cherries, lettuce, beets, spinach, and ginger. The round kitchen garden off the back deck is equally-maintenance free. It contains parsley, chives, and cilantro, with flowers for eye-candy.




Bob holds a jar of pollen, one of the exhibits at nearby Jordan Lake Visitor Assistance Center on the last Saturday of the month. See Environmental Futures Fair for more pictures.




Retirement is a bed of roses, says Camille, requiring little more than a hammock and some gardens to tend. Read more of her thoughts about this new life of ease in her blog post, “Easy Street”




Our peonies and ice plants went into full-bore bloom this month. They are very happy in their south-facing bed in front of the house.


Festiva Maxima is both fragrant and showy and well-adapted to our hot, humid climate. The floral arrangements are off to a good start with iris, azalea, and peony “Mrs. FDR.”




We thought it would be fun to mark our territory with dinosaurs. Toy Story’s Rex was the first plastic dinosaur to show up at the PTA Thrift Store. Bob drilled a hole in his stomach (ouch!) and placed him on a survey pin, or EIP (existing iron pipe).



Our little man is growing up quickly, but still loves his Mama Emily.



“A seed that lands upside down in the ground will wheel—root and stem—in a great U-turn until it rights itself. But a human child can know it’s pointed wrong and still consider the direction well worth a try.” – Richard Powers, The Overstory

“Sugar is the other white powder. It was the science of sugar that showed me that the behaviors associated with obesity (gluttony and sloth) were in fact due to a change in biochemistry, and that the biochemistry was due to a change in the environment.” Robert H. Lustig in “The Hacking of the American Mind”

“If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, this is how you spend your days—listening, observing, storing things away, making your isolation pay off. You take home all you’ve taken in, all that you’ve overheard, and you turn it into gold. (Or at least you try.)” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird



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[Troutsfarm] * [April, 2019] * [Environmental Futures Fair]