Forward - From the Heartland of Carolina

This is a continuing story of the journey Forward shared by 2 people, Lynne and Tom. Both love to LIVE life to it's fullest, which currently means spending lots of time outdoors, working on various projects from gardens to patios, flowers to vegetables, sunrises and sunsets, birds and woodland critters, and spending time with family. Don't forget to check the monthly archives, and please feel free to leave us a comment so we know you stopped by.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Quest for Spring

Well, today, March 1st, is considered the first day of meteorological Spring. The calender says that Spring begins March 20th this year. Naturally, we'd prefer the former date to the latter. Toss in a couple days of 70's and low 80's, and the tease to get out and do some serious gardening really gets going.We know better, however.

Another cold front comes through though, and winter refuses to let go, with temperatures falling into the upper 20's at night. We've seen a couple cycles like that lately, and there may be more ahead, but each day, there's a little more daylight, the sun is slowly creeping higher in the sky, and little by little, the soil is warming - slowly, ever so slowly, but still warming.

With all that being said, I took the camera out in the yard over the weekend on a quest to find Spring.

The birds - they know the season is changing. Their chirp is chirpier. Their flight is flightier. They seem to be feeding with a purpose lately. Some, especially the male Cardinals, are getting more territorial. Bluebirds are investigating the boxes. Downy woodpeckers are carving new cavities in dead branches up in the pines. Chickadees, Titmice, and Nuthatches seem to be everywhere.

Yellow is starting to pop around the yard. Clumps of Daffodils...which seem to be early this year. We have pictures of these same ones blooming on March 20th, a few years ago.

Forsythia are filling out nicely, thanks to the recent warmer days

The Violas always rebound quickly after the frosty nights that seem to put them to sleep temporarily

Outside the back porch, the Daphne is sharing flowers and fragrance, that on milder days, drifts inside through the open doors and windows.

Heading into the woods, the Winter Jasmine has been tossing out more yellow blossoms
This Camellia has been blooming since December, and still has many unopened buds to go

Judging from the swelling buds, the native Dogwood by the pond is going to be putting on quite a show  in April

The Hellebores, a little behind schedule, are putting on their best show to date.

Some of the Hydrangeas have already broken out of their long winter's sleep.

Even the ground covering Vinca has started to flower

The Silver Maples have been blooming for several days now.

Back at the house, new growth on the Clematis promises a flush of color in the not too distant future.

So, there you have it - a quick walk around the yard. Hints and signs saying that yes, Spring really is on the way, and Winter will soon be a distant memory.

Of course, there's always one rebel plant in every yard. This Parsley, sitting out, unattended and unprotected all winter long, has laughed at the single digit nighttime temperatures we had, the 10" snowfalls, and what little moisture it absorbed from the few light showers we've had these past few months. It's reward will be to get transplanted to an out of the way location where it can go to seed, giving us even more baby Parsleys, which in turn will become food for the Black Swallowtail caterpillars.
Happy March, Happy Meteorological Spring, or if you listen to the plants, Happy Successful Quest.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sharing "Leola's Love" (free seeds)

One year ago last night, February 7th, 2010, a very special woman left this earthly world.

My wife and I, 2 of her sisters, and one of our nieces had been keeping vigil for several days over their Mother and Grandmother, Leola Grace Glover. Our hospice team, for the time we had them, were another realm of Angels that helped Mom, and ultimately us, through her final months, and especially, her last days.

It was Super Bowl Sunday last year, and, I distinctly remember being called back to Mom's room a year ago. The TV had the game on as background noise, and as I passed by, the Saints scored a touchdown. Some time later, I realized the irony of that timing :) The real Saints had a new one among them.

A year ago, our blog had been silent for a while. We, and Lynne's extended family, were consumed with caring for Mom. During the time Mom's condition deteriorated, my sister Mary Lou Brown also passed away. There was a time period in there where the people, the families who needed to know, knew. Since that time, we also came to realize that we had a few annonymous followers who commented to us rather often, and our self-imposed silence left them out of the loop. We apologize for that, and maybe, they still have us bookmarked, and will find their way back to our Heartland Ramblings, and understand why we were away.


Winter has been interesting in North Carolina this year, and in much of the Eastern US. Temperatures well below normal, a beautiful post-Christmas snowstorm. There's even talk of some light snow possible in the near future! Not a yardwork inducing forecast, to say the least.

While Lynne continues to sort through Mom's items, and we change the house up, we're also waiting for one of those days 'just a little warmer', so we can get outside and start reclaiming the gardens that fell into a state of unkemptness and neglect over the last couple years. We're not going to take total blame, however :)

A region-wide drought, and 90+ days of temperatures of 90° or higher last year added some assistance to their demise. Or so we want to think and say :) Then there's days like today - Bright warming sun, slowly getting higher in the sky, but holding a gusting wind that still cuts through you. No, we're not dealing with Dakota-like minus 30 temps, but still...

Lynne has lots to do inside, always redecorating and changing things up to fit the season. We have projects that we've got to stop talking about and start working on. Right now, the inside is her domain, and the outside is mine. I know it's a little too early to cleanse the garden beds of the heavy layer of pine needles and leaves that have accumulated, but some can, and need to be exposed. The Daffodils are rising, some with buds showing! There's other beds that need a total overhaul. Fortunately, there's even some that need little more done but some weeding.

So, it's time for us to get going on our respective chores. We WILL get our gardens rebuilt, restored, refurbished. Sure, we hope it might all happen this year, but if not, we will know we made progress. We'll have some stories to share along the way, as is our way.


Now, for our gardening and decorating friends, we'd like to share something very special with you. Last year, we collected lots of seed from a plant that we only know as "Chimney Pinks". They aren't the Pinks that are known as Carnations or Dianthus. These are annuals, that re-seed freely wherever planted.

These "Chimney Pinks", as far as Lynne and her sisters can remember, are dated back at least to their Great-Grandmother and Great Aunt, and probably beyond. Lynne's seeds came from her Mom, who  used to collect the seed in medicine bottles, and share with her family and friends. They've flourished in the mountains of Pennsylvania and the postage stamp lots of Delaware. When we pass along some of these seeds to our Granddaughter and great nieces this spring, they will then have spanned at least 6 generations as pass-a-long plant.

We have enough seed collected now to share a little of "Leola's Love" with you.

We call them as Chimney Pinks, simply because that's what Mom told us they were. Mom's are never wrong, right? :) Someday, we'll know the correct scientific Latin name that goes with them :) They are light and airy, and bloom continuously from mid-Spring through Summer, sometimes reseeding early enough to produce a 2nd blooming period.  True to their name, they are pink(surprise!!!) I wish we had a close-up, but this distant Hydragnea with the Pinks will have to suffice. Seed sown now should bloom this late Spring/Summer.

Just leave us a comment here and let us know why you'd like to have a little bit of the love that Mom was so passionate about passing along, as well as how we can contact you, (DM us on Twitter, or Private Message on Facebook), and we'll be happy to spread a little of Leola's Love with you. You know how to find us. :)  There might be some surprise seeds as well.

Anyways, as always, we thank you for listening to our Heartland Ramblings, and we'll be back again soon.

Peace and Love,
Tom and Lynne

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Night Lights and Snow Scenes

Just a little addition to our Christmas decorating - we wanted to share some of our outside Christmas lighting, and a few snow pictures taken after the December 26, 2010 snowstorm. It's really a shame that, just as our obsolete camera is starting to die, and a replacement battery for it can't be found, not to mention the model is no longer in production, that the camera user is finally figuring out how to adjust the settings for non-typical photo ops, like after dark snow pictures.

It's not often that we get a decent snow here in this part of North Carolina, and this year, we 'almost' had a white Christmas... except that the snow started a half a day late, when it began falling in the early morning hours of December 26th. For this area, it was a really good snowfall, officially measuring 10" when all was said and done. Of course, it's a snow like that that you really hate to walk in, because you leave footprints in the pristine palette  of whiteness. That had to be done, though, to get the pictures... and a week later, when melted, there were no footprints.

Daytime was just as pretty, only brighter

The 3" branch above eventually broke off the tree, just barely brushing the front of my car.

The photo below is one of our favorites from this storm... a puff of wind stirring the pine boughs 60 feet up, causing a cascade of powdered snowdust to gently drift down in the appearance of a crystallized waterfall in slow motion.

So, now, we're a couple weeks into the New Year already!!  We hope your holidays were full of all the good things you wished for, and our wish for you this year is for good things to continue come your way. Thanks for stopping by!

Peace and Love,

Tom and Lynne

Monday, January 03, 2011

Christmas 2010 - Traditions continue

In this home, Christmas season starts on Thanksgiving weekend, mainly because of Lynne's decorating abilities, and the fact that she has a willing husband who's task each year is to 1) bring all the decorating goodies down from the garage attic, and 2) do whatever he wants when it comes to outside lighting and displays.

As many of you know, Lynne's Mom, who lived with us for almost 5 years, passed away last February, so this was really our first Christmas together, alone. Much of the decorating, inside and out, had been focused on her, and what and where she could see things. Interestingly, since her passing, very little changed. Where the outside displays could be seen from her bedroom window, looking into the back yard, now, those lights have moved around to where our view was better, or people driving by could share Mom's special angel, or 'her' special trees. Same lights or figures, just a new location. Still Mom's Angel, or her trees. We'll post those pictures in the next update.

Inside, still, many trees. 14 this year, I think? What qualifies as a decorated tree? If lights are added, or ornaments are hung, it's a decorated tree, right? Some are 3½'  or 4' specimens, most are various 6 footers. All are decorated with love. All have a meaning, a purpose, a place, a history.

The previous blog mentioned the misfits - leftover ornaments and unused light strings. Next to the misfits is a tree that holds only ornaments that are 40 years old or older... our antique tree, if you will. If you enter the house, you must walk by this tree. Ornaments that have been passed down in the family for generations.

There's two kinds of history, though. The ornaments that have been passed down through the years, and the ornaments than are handmade and collected through the years. Again, this year, the handmade tree was a focal point in our family room, still holding decorations that span 4 generations... Some of Mom's last ones, and our grandchildrens' most recent ones.

The Christmas villages were scaled down to just one area this year for the most part, although there were little vignettes scattered around.

The recently built corner cabinets provide ample decorating possibilities.

Also in the family room was the angel tree, that last year had to grow in size due to the addition of more ornaments that we had come across and that Mom had made in recent years.

Somehow, in the area leading to the dining room from the family room, we found room for the red and white tree, and our new last year 'main' tree.

There's the Victorian look in our bedroom.

Even the top of the fridge wasn't safe from being decorated ;-)

Off to the main living room, where Lynne did the color themed trees. Teal, red and gold, and gold decorations.

There's also a tabletop alpine tree and the garland wrapped mirror.

Of course, there's the back porch nature tree, which uses among other things bird nests found on the property over the years.

Other decorations around the house...

There was one misfit tree that was so out of the way that it didn't get mentioned the previous entry. This little guy is tucked away in the misfit room, hiding next to my recliner.

This entry is titled "Traditions continue". This year, we've continued a tradition that Lynne's Mom started many many years ago, setting up her aluminum tree, still stored in its' original box, with instructions, each sleeve tucked away in its' paper wrapper. I love decorating, but even more, I love watching Lynne decorate. This year, it was with a special silence that I watched Lynne set up and decorate Mom's little tree from the 60's.

Traditions. They're easy to start. They're easy to carry on. They're easy to pick up and pass along. They suddenly become full of meaningful memories.

Traditions. Why not start one today?

From our house to yours, we wish you the very best as we embark into a new year, a new decade.

Peace and Love from Tom and Lynne.