Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back to the Mountaintop

Visiting Mom and her husband at their beautiful mountain hideaway is like coming home, even though I didn't grow up here. After about 15 years, the place has such a familiarity to it, and of course, Mom's there. Time has been flying by lately, and it's already been almost two weeks since our visit, which I'm still fondly remembering. I could spend hours sitting at the kitchen table watching the birds at the feeders in the big old ash tree behind the deck.

It's always a joy to go exploring for whatever wildflowers might be blooming.I love strolling down, and hiking back up the steep driveway, looking for what might be blooming on the edges of the woods. The hike back up is a butt and thigh blaster, believe me!
. . . a rather blurry spiderwort blooming on the edge of the woods.

Besides hanging out at Mom's, we often take a little time out to visit a local attraction. This time I was just in time for the county fair. I'd never been to a county fair before, and it was really fun. Saturday Mom and I spent a couple of hours strolling the midway and checking out the exhibits.

This was the biggest cow I've ever seen in my life. I wondered if she was even capable of standing. She was huge.

Isn't this sheep sweet? She let me pet her for a quite a while. She was very docile, and her lanolin left my hands feeling soft and moisturized.

Meet Rasta-Sheep! Wouldn't you love a scarf made from his wool?

This guy was a sweetheart. He was very gregarious, and enjoyed being petted and talked to. Some of the horses and other animals stayed in the backs of their pens and didn't seem to enjoy the noise, the strangers, or being on display. Others, like this guy, wanted to be the life of the party. He had such beautiful eyes.

These two were also very friendly. The blonde had beautiful blue eyes.

Besides bird watching, eating Mom's delicious home cooking, strolling around the property, enjoying lively conversation, and going to the fair, I helped Mom do some dividing, moving, and weeding in the perennial beds surrounding the front of the house. This is the first time in quite a while I've been able to visit during the growing season. It was a joy working with Mom in her garden. We worked for a few hours on Sunday, and finished just in time for a rain shower to water in the transplants. The rain had almost perfect timing, except it didn't give me time to get any pictures of the borders. Rain all day Monday cancelled my tentative plans to visit a Japanese garden in Rockford, IL on my way back home.

Last weekend I hung out with my three daughters and my grandson at The Middle One's lovely place on the north side of Chicago. Piling all of us into one of our compact cars for another road trip over the river and through the woods (and up the mountain,) before the snow flies was on the list of the many subjects we talked about as we hung out enjoying each other's company, a bottle or two of wine, and watched the remnants of Ike dump several inches of rain here in our neck of the woods.


  1. Thanks for sharing all these pics with us! Love the animal pics alot. We raised sheep with our children when we had our farm in NJ and the lanolin is wonderful. All during lambing season my hands were never in such great shape!

  2. The time you spend with your mom is more precious than anything you could ever afford to buy her. Keep up the good work!

  3. Anonymous7:30 PM

    Ahhhh, I love flowers, love native plants, love, love, love forests. But there is a special place in my heart for farm animals. They don't complain, don't tell you all about their worries; they just...are. All the while they give us their wool, milk, eggs, feathers, bones and meat. It's kind of a spiritual relationship.

    I love county fairs! I think that if everybody got to go to a county fair, this world just might be a better place.


  4. I enjoyed the photos of your visit! So glad you had a nice time with family...and I agree with you...that is one BIG cow!!

  5. I'm glad you have been able to spend so much time with your family--those hours are precious. The Japanese garden in Rockford you mentioned is one I've had on my destination list for a long time--one of these days I'll get there!
    I haven't been to a county fair or the state fair in years, but I used to go frequently when I was younger. I belonged to 4-H, and many of my friends showed animals at the fairs. Those animals are the cleanest, best-groomed animals around!

  6. Hi Sherri, how lucky you were growing up on a farm!

    The horses and the sheep were my favorites at the fair. They had some really neat chickens too - all different kinds of fancy breeds.

    It was pretty cool petting the sheep and getting some free moisturizer in the process!

    Hi Darla, I miss having my mom living close, and love to visit her any chance I get. I'm glad she didn't move further away than she did, as it's still close enough to visit often.

    Hey K, it was really fun visiting the fair. Most of the critters on exhibit were raised by children through their local 4-H clubs. Those kids are so lucky growing up caring for animals. Hopefully many of them will follow in their parents' footsteps and continue their farming heritage.

    I'm looking forward to our trip back up there next month!

    Hi Kim, glad you enjoyed the photos! It was a blast visiting the fair, and great to spend time with Mom and her husband. I so admire their lifestyle.

    I wasn't sure if the picture would do justice to the size of that cow - she was enormous!

    Hi Rose, my daughters and I are planning another trip up to visit Mom next month. I'm hoping the weather will cooperate so we can stop at the garden in Rockford on the way up or on the way back.

    Besides wanting to see the Japanese garden for my own enjoyment, it will also help me with one of my clients, as I'm in the process of working on a Japanese-inspired garden for her. It's a big project, and I'm sure I'll be inspired and get some good ideas from my visit.

    It must have been fun to belong to 4-H as a kid. I'll bet you learned a lot too!

    I was very impressed with how clean and well-groomed the fair animals were. Some of the kids who own the animals were there in the exhibit barns, and you could see how much they loved and cared for their charges.

  7. sounds & looks like a great time. isn't family wonderful!
    i love the fair we have here in our county and the animals are always a favourite time.

  8. Linda,

    What a lovely visit; I feel at ease from just reading about it! You have a gentle and calm way of writing; you must be a wonderful garden coach!

    Thank you for letting me tag along.


  9. It sounds like a terrific time! I love the photos of the sheep, makes me want to crochet...bring on the cool weather!

  10. Lovely post :)
    The two sheep on the last photo looks like "old norwegian sheep" an old breed here in Norway.

  11. Anonymous8:29 AM

    You sound like my daughter when she visits. She kind of explores the place checking out changes since her last visit. I must get to the fair. I missed the county. I think the state is coming up soon. I enjoyed seeing all the sheep. Family get-togethers create such wonderful memories.

  12. Spending time with our family is great! Our county fair will be here soon and now you have me all excited and ready for a visit. The animals and corn dogs are my favorite parts of the fair!

  13. I love "Rasta-sheep"! I've never seen one like that before, & I grew up surrounded by farms. We'd go to 2 county fairs each year. I miss that. Isn't fun to work with someone else in the garden? I'll bet your mom loved having you help her.

  14. Hi Marmee, it's so nice up there! I always enjoy visiting.

    The fair was a new experience for me, and the animals were definitely my favorite part.

    Hi Gail, aw, that's so nice of you to say. I think I'm mostly a pretty calm, peaceful person, and I'm glad those parts of me come through my writing.

    I'm glad you enjoyed our trip!

    Hi Conscious Gardener, don't you just love the colors of their wool? They made me want to crochet something too, and I haven't done that in quite a few years.

    Hi Marie, that's so interesting! I never knew there were so many different breeds of sheep. Those two sheep were so, so beautiful. I loved their silky fur, and their gorgeous eyes.

    Hi Donna, yep, I do explore like your daughter does, checking out what's different. I especially enjoy looking for wildflowers along the edge of their private road, and watching for critters back in the woods.

    I hope you get to make it to the fair!

    Hi Skeeter, I really enjoyed the animals. Oddly enough, we didn't eat anything there. I was 'saving myself' for Mom's home cooking and fresh garden veggies!

    I hope you have a great time at the fair. Have a corn dog for me!

    Hi MMD, Rasta-sheep was very cool. He had a great hairstyle. I'd never seen a sheep like that either. He looked like he should be wearing sunglasses. ;~)

    It was such a joy working with Mom in her garden, and I know it's safe to say the feelings were mutual!

  15. You live a splendid life.


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