Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Trip to Mom's

Recently I got to spend a week in Southwest Wisconsin visiting Mom and her Garden Buddy. What a pleasure it was enjoying this nice long visit!

With me came The Biology of Transcendence, borrowed from their vast library on a previous visit, divisions and seedlings for the ornamental borders surrounding their lovely, loving Ocooch Mountain home, a batch of Lawn Man's freshly-grilled, delicious, spicy jerk chicken, and yummy yellow pear tomatoes from our garden.

What a time we had playing in the garden, browsing old photos, sharing generations of family letters and stories, going to town for a physics lecture at the university, experiencing two of their favorite ethnic restaurants, enjoying two magnificent foreign films Mom's Garden Buddy (a/k/a Social Director) selected, and seeing Michael Pollan's excellent, thought-provoking talk together.

K, my oldest daughter, joined us for the weekend. Mom's Garden Buddy, K, and I got a workout harvesting a ton (well, more like 75-100 lbs.) of potatoes. K and I came home laden with veggies from their fabulous garden and delicious organic apples from their orchard, enriched by the experiences and fond memories of our delightful visit.

To give you an idea how awesome their garden is, consider one of the delicious, beautiful Kuri squash brought back home. The squash on the left is from their garden, and the one on the right is from ours. Kuris are typically small squash, averaging two to three pounds. My squash weighs in at 2.5 pounds, about the size of a typical acorn squash. This one from their garden weighs a whopping 9 pounds, and many of them were even larger.

Besides visiting with Mom and her Garden Buddy, one of the pleasures of the trip is enjoying the natural beauty of their land - exploring the woods and rock formations, beholding the ancient, forest-covered mountains, observing multitudes of birds at the feeders, surveying the stars, (which seem so much more numerous in the inky, rural night skies than they are here at home,) and keeping eyes and ears alert for the wildlife that share their land.

I heard packs of coyotes howling at the moon, enjoyed birds at the feeders off the deck, watched deer foraging in the woods, and spied a small rafter of wild turkeys enjoying their breakfast on a slope near the woods' edge. The turkeys are shy, alert, and challenging to photograph. Aware of my every move, it wasn't long before they retreated back into the woods.

It's a joy visiting Mom and her Garden Buddy, playing in the garden, and basking in the warmth of the love we share.


  1. I like the look of the garden. It really shows how gardening is done passionately, looking at the neat stones arranged nicely to demarcate the bed in the first photo.

    Having turkeys around must be closest to nature.... LOVELY!!

  2. Your trip looks very relaxing. What is a Kuri squash? I've never seen one. Were the trees starting to change?"

  3. Hi B&K, after years of bordering the garden, the stones were beginning to sink into the soil. One of the things I did while there was lifting and re-placing them. Mom was so happy!

    You would not believe their veggie garden! It's huge, beautiful, and incredibly productive. Actually, they have two huge veggie gardens - one close to the house, and one in their valley. The valley garden is where they grow their potatoes, garlic, onions, and rhubarb. Everything else is in the garden near the house.

    The turkeys are pretty cool to watch. They sure are skittish though. Even if you watch them from inside, it doesn't take long for them to take off. It's understandable with all the predators. I love the wildness of their place. Most of their large property is uncultivated, and home to a wonderful variety of wildlife. It's like visiting a nature preserve.

    It was great Debbie. All life's stresses and cares seem to melt away for a while.

    Kuri squash, a/k/a Red Kuri or Uchi Kuri is native to Japan. It's a winter squash that stores well for a long time, and has a sweet, creamy, chestnutty flavor. I've only seen them once around here at a nursery where they got them with the pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks, hay bales, etc., for Halloween decoration. The nursery owner cooked one, and we tried it. Best squash I've ever tasted. It's one of the reasons I decided to finally have a vegetable garden again, since I couldn't find them at a store. I like squash, but Kuri's in a whole different league - yum! Wish it was more readily available at the grocery or farmers' market. I should check back with the nursery to see if they have any this year. I could eat them every day.

    The trees were just starting to change, and I missed the peak of fall color this time. Last year I was there at the perfect time for that - it was breathtakingly beautiful.

  4. Hi Linda, I loved hearing about your trip to your mom's, and am envious of those potatoes! The squash is cool too. So is Michael Pollan! The bed in the top photo is a perfect study in green and white, so peaceful and soothing. A big hug and congrats on your win of a very good blogging state with tough competition, sort of like Tennessee. :-)

  5. What fun! The squash are beautiful. They are quite pricey down here and seem to be in high demand. Your new header photo is gorgeous.

  6. Thank you Frances!

    We had hash browns with a couple of those potatoes this morning - yum!

    Tina, I can understand why they're in high demand - they are SO good! It's my favorite squash since I first tried one. We can't even find them in markets around here. Thats one of the nice things about growing our own - being able to grow stuff that's not otherwise available.

  7. Linda, I've never heard/seen kuri squash before! Such a pretty deep orange! And that is one HUGE potato!
    I'm visiting my mommy in two weeks...can't wait! Thanks for
    FB-ing me!
    btw, love the new header photo!

  8. Lynn, Kuri squash is soooo good! Their prettiness is a nice bonus.

    Hope you have a wonderful time visiting your mom - I'm sure you will! Whoever said you can never go home obviously didn't have our moms.

    That's one of my favorite photo's from Mom's place. Either she or her Garden Buddy captured that shot. It really does look like that in the fall- so pretty!

    My pleasure on the FB thing - I didn't know you were there, and I'm glad you found me!

  9. What a wonderful trip! There's some really beautiful places in southern Wisconsin, especially at this time of year. And what amazing produce!

  10. Sounds lovely and a great time of year. Fall is the best time for weekend trips.

  11. Anonymous10:49 PM

    Oh yes, thanks for taking us along. I do love when you visit your mom. I like the love and admiration in your descriptions. Wish I could meet her one day.

  12. Linda, sounds like a great visit! And to spend it with people who enjoy gardening as much as you must be a thrill.

    I love your photos of your Mom's place-just gorgeous. Those potatoes and squash are amazing!

    Have a great week.

  13. Hi Rose, it is really pretty there. I enjoy the drive too, especially after getting off the interstate. It's fun going through all those small towns, stopping at a couple of antique shops along the way.

    Their veggie gardens are quite impressive!

    I agree Elizabeth. Fall is my favorite time to visit. I try to get up there every fall.

    Glad you came along Anna! It would be great if Mom could meet you - you'd LOVE each other! Besides having our gardening passion in common, we'd have lots of old family stories to share and compare.

    It was really nice Beckie, and always gorgeous, especially this time of year. We're enjoying the taters, and I can't wait to eat those squash!

  14. Morning greetings from Vermont!

    We are surrounded by turkeys. Last night there were 4 large toms with long beards trying to figure out why I still haven't put any food in the bird feeders. Turkey's do not understand that bears are problmes until they go to sleep for the winter.

    Anyway....I never heard the term "rafter of turkeys". I've always been a "flock" person. This is why I love blogs and the Internet--a perpetual learning experience. Thanks for helping!

    George Africa
    The Vermont Gardener

  15. Sounds like a wonderful trip, Linda! Your mother and Garden Buddy must be excellent gardeners--those potatoes look so delicious. And now I'm curious about the Kuri squash; I read your comments about how hard they are to find. Maybe your blog will spur some nursery owners to stock this seed next year.

    Spending time with family had to be the best part of the whole trip--I would have passed on the physics lecture, though:)

  16. Good morning George, the turkeys seem to come out of the woods a lot more in the fall up at Mom's. That the time of year I see the most of them.

    I almost said 'flock,' but it somehow didn't seem right, so I decided to find out what a group of turkeys is called. I like the library for researching obscure stuff like that, but it sure is easier to type in a couple of words and see what I can come up with. I concur - I love the perpetual learning experience of blogs and the internet!

    It really was wonderful Rose! Mom and her Garden Buddy never cease to amaze me with what they do with their garden, and how productive it is. Wish I had a larger, sunnier space for veggies.

    It would be nice if more nurseries stocked Kuri seeds, and also nice if we could find Kuri squash in the markets around here. That's another great thing about the internet - I would never have been able to find seeds so easily without it. I'll be saving seeds from these squash for next year.

    I don't think it would take long before people found out how delicious they are and would be clamoring for even more of them - the seeds and the fruits - in the nurseries, stores and farmers' markets.

    I'm definitely not a physics geek, and I hate math - never took physics in high school or college. But the lecture was really fascinating. I learned a lot, and was pretty impressed with how physics can be applied to so many things in our everyday lives, especially the psychological implications of it. The professor who gave the lecture was so engaging he made it really fun, and the hour passed by amazingly quickly. Still, spending time with family was definitely the best part of the trip. I sure do miss my mommy since she moved up there. But being able to visit so often, and seeing how happy she is there, it definitely still feels like home.

  17. Linda, It sounds like you had a delicious visit! Jerk Chicken, Kuri Squash (I just brought one home from Whole Foods) and good reading! How sweet a time of family love and celebration to have three generations visiting in the garden. I try to listen for the coyotes here...but the other noises drown them out! Do I need to send PPPP again? gail

  18. It was definitely delicious Gail! Mom is such a good cook. And the restaurants we went to were so, so good! One was Peruvian - first time I've eaten Peruvian food, but won't be the last!

    The jerk chicken I brought came in very handy for dinner one day when we did a gardening marathon. It was so nice of Lawn Man to send it along with me, and it sure was good.

    It was so nice K got to come along too. I was surprised she wanted to get out and dig potatoes with us with her baby belly, but she was quite a trooper!

    The PPPP you sent this spring are doing well. They didn't grow much or bloom this year, but I wouldn't expect them to the first year. Next year they'll probably be all settled in.

    Enjoy that squash! (I'm sure you will!)

  19. Sounds like you mom lives in a beautiful place. I can't believe the squash. I gave my mom tomato plants that I started and she had three times the amount of tomatoes than I got.

  20. Hi Catherine, LOL - I didn't give my mom plants or seeds for her Kuri squash, but after I tried one I went on about it so much that she decided to try them too.

    Ah, such responsibility! I sure hope they like them as much as I do. She has a larger garden and more sun than I do, and has many times more squash from her garden than grew here.

  21. Your mom has turkeys on her property? That's pretty awesome! The visit sounds pretty interesting. You should organize tours for people like me who have such boring families.

    I wouldn't have been able to understand half of what was said at the physics lecture, but I could always say I attended one.

  22. MBT, yep, wild turkeys! Their place is like a wildlife preserve. The variety of birds there is pretty incredible. You'd like it there.

    I wasn't sure I'd be able to stay awake at the physics lecture, but it was really fascinating. I think you would have enjoyed it, and been surprised at how understandable it was. The professor did a great job explaining, and applying it to everyday life.

  23. Wow, Linda, that sounds like a great time, on all levels! Does one of the foreign films you saw happen to be Cloud 9? I'm dying to see it!

  24. Hi Monica, I'm still on Cloud 9 after the trip, but that wasn't the movie. We saw Amu (Indian,) and Central Station (Brazilian.)

    Amu is about an Indian-American girl orphaned at 3-years-old, recently graduated from college, who returns to her homeland to visit her extended adoptive family and discover her roots. It starts out light and funny, then builds in intensity as she begins to learn what happened to her birth family.

    Central Station is about a Rio train-station professional letter writer who, after his mother's tragic death, first betrays, then rescues a little boy, taking him on a long-distance odyssey to search for his long-lost father. Both were excellent!

  25. That sounds like my kind of trip! Good books, Pollan lecture, nature, ethnic food. Now I'm hungry.

  26. Enjoyed joining you on your trip, Linda, that looks much like northern Mighigan ... we too have as many as 50 turkeys on a 'turkey trot' across our property at the lake (I agree, hard to photograph)!

  27. Benjamin, We've been enjoying the fruits and veggies of Mom's and her Garden Buddy's labors since I've been back. And the restaurants were wonderful! The Pollan lecture was fantastic, and there's never any shortage of good books at Mom's.

    Thanks for coming along Joey! I've taken many trips to your beautiful state. My ex's family is from Michigan, and we visited there often.

    The turkeys are hard to 'shoot!' This was the first time I was successful, and most of them were already back in the woods before I got that shot.

  28. Hi,
    That first picture of the garden bed is really pretty. The plants are so well mannered. We see turkeys here too, but from far off. They are always at the edge of the cornfield. Congrats on the Blotanical award. You deserve it.

  29. What a great trip! We have a flock of wild turkeys living in the woods just behind our house. I've got some photos of them with their little babies that I took earlier this summer. So cute!

  30. Hi Balisha, thanks so much!

    I've always liked Mom's foundation beds - not the typical pruned hedges, and lots of nice foliage and bloom color.

    It's pretty neat seeing the wildlife close-up there! Lucky you being close to nature too.

    Aw, I'll bet the babies were really cute Kylee! I haven't seen any babies at Mom's, but then, I haven't been there too often in the summer either. My trips seem to be mostly in the other three seasons.


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