95: the New 75

No one can tell me prolonged periods of unseasonal drought and heat twenty degrees above the average, going into early October, is just a random fluke of nature.  This week it’s forecast to be 95º when the average down here is 75º this time of year.  Even established drought-tolerant native trees and plants may be in trouble with months of no rain, which in turn adversely affects all the species that depend on them for survival.  And it’s not just here in the south, it’s the same up and down the northeast, midatlantic, midwest, and plains.

Only someone misinformed or deceived would remain unconcerned about this and many other unusual extreme climate trends.  I know I’m preaching to the choir (or more likely just myself), but it needs to be said.

On that optimistic note, shanah tovah!  Today’s menu includes grilled Middle Eastern turkey kofta kebabs with lots of aromatic spices and fresh herbs, acorn and homegrown butternut squash, sliced and spiced and also grilled, pearl couscous, and all the leftovers from yesterday’s meal.  I think I outdid myself.  All that’s missing is my son.

Dust Bowl

This heat wave and drought is breaking historical records.  All my native plant groups up and down the eastern/midwestern US are concerned about it.

A neighbor was mowing the field behind us, and it looked like a big dust storm.  There was nothing to mow but dried stubble.  I don’t know why people bother, it’s so bad for the environment.

It’s getting harder to find living things to photograph.  There’s always this chocolate chip coffee cake E baked, and this ginger cosmo from yesterday evening.  And a few flowers and butterflies hanging on.

Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) begins tonight.  L’shanah tovah.  It has to get better, right?  I made a vegetarian Sephardic meal including falafel, basmati rice, spicy sweet potatoes, and fresh sautéed broccoli with fresh garlic and herbs.  Guess what’s for dessert?


I never mentioned the Fall Equinox because it passed by unnoticed in the endless heat wave, which is predicted to drag on into later October.  Just some fallen brown leaves and dried up everything hint at the change of seasons around here.  Only my relentless watering is keeping most of these plants alive.  Even the unstoppable okra are slowing down.  Still, it doesn’t stop me from trying.


Random Notes

Just some random footnotes…my cat nephew Slinky, whom I never got to meet, is dead.  He adopted my brother and B-I-L just as Misu adopted us, and it was a close relationship.  I can understand what a loss it would be.  🙁

I forgot to mention in my YS saga that I finally got to meet Dave Chapelle, who lives in YS and owns much of it.  He’s just a regular nice guy who hangs out in local shops like the Emporium for coffee, which is where we ran into him.  It’s such a normal, uneventful occurrence in YS that I forgot all about it.  I don’t normally have names to drop, so that was the only unusual part of it.  I acted like a typical dork, and shook his hand!  Go me.

It actually rained (?!) yesterday, if you can call it that.  Then it was dense fog this morning and millions of birds and critters foraging.  Now back to the heat wave.  Of course I grilled chicken for erev.  This is getting beyond old.  And my son’s been away on business/personal for what seems like a month, so I miss him, but I know it’s what he needs.

High Holy Days are almost upon us.  I don’t do much about it, except try to make things a bit more festive.  If g-d existed, s/he’d be pretty pissed at me.  I don’t miss organized religion even a bit.  But I like the excuse to pick more flowers and try to get more creative (?) in the kitchen.  Oh, and drink religiously!

Rain Teaser

Shockingly, it rained this morning, but it was short-lived.  The heat wave forecast continues on into next month.  Hort friends all over the country are likewise lamenting the extreme drought and death of native plantings that we’ve struggled to establish.  Rain dances are useless, it appears.  Maybe a rain flash mob?

Still, here and there life refuses to be defeated.



Back to the Present

Well, I’m finally caught up from the trip.  There was a lot of eventfulness to sort through.  Then I had a lot of dying garden to attend to, in the process of which I mysteriously threw my back out and can’t garden or do much of anything.  Good thing I got vacationing out of the way in time to be forced into inactivity!

It was E’s actual birthday on Sunday, so we did another cake (not homemade this time) when we got back.  The apples are from Peifer’s Orchards, the vase and bird from Stoney Creek Garden Center, in YS.

Misu was very happy to get back outside after days of incarceration.  Here she is relaxing in an empty pond liner.

Some flowers managed to survive and even thrive in the drought, in particular goldenrod, asters, and coneflower.

Here is this morning’s spectacular sunrise!  I know rain is too much to hope for, but one can dream.  It can’t not rain all the time.


YS Day 4

I should mention that we started each day at Emporium Wines and Underdog Café for their excellent coffee and access to wifi, which we couldn’t get at the motel.  For some reason I forgot to take photos there, but it figures significantly in our saga, almost as much as the Tavern.  Every morning the ladies there greeted us with, “You came back!”  Of course we did.

We enjoyed local, organic food at the Sunrise Café, an old standby establishment in town.  Typical of our time in YS, we found ourselves in lively conversation with fellow travelers at the next table.  We met a lot of people from all over the country during our stay.

Next was an essential walk in Glen Helen Nature Preserve, home of the namesake Yellow Springs, with its irony water and ritual tasting.  Mist was rising from the creek.  We viewed the waterfall, the Adena native American burial mound, and the waterfall cave.

Then it was on to Peifer Orchards to check out their bountiful harvest and pick up some fresh produce.


We had time for one more favorite park, The Narrows Reserve.  Here the evidence of the drought was striking.  Where the river used to come up to the path, there were now dry beaches and puddles of stranded fish.  Never in our years there had we seen the water so low.

We had a fantastic dinner at Calypso Grill and Smokehouse (Latin-Caribbean cuisine) run by the Sunrise Café owners.  Then it was on to our grand finale.

Here’s where serendipity really applied.  For a long time we had been hoping the timing of our trip would coincide with Downton Abbey the Movie at the Little Art Theatre, and against all odds it turned out it would.  It was the perfect birthday synchronicity, and the ideal retro venue for it.  We had grabbed up tickets the moment we arrived in town, just to be safe!  The movie did not disappoint.  It was beautiful.  The packed theatre consisted of old Downton fans who knew the score and appreciated the wry humor and plot twists.  It was the perfect end to a perfect YS saga.

We drove straight home after the movie, arriving in the wee hours of Sunday.  Misu the cat must have been beside herself during our absence, and it was a relief on both sides to be back.  She wouldn’t let us out of her sight after that.

And there you have it–our first annual pilgrimage to Yellow Springs.  We made some good new connections, both human and animal, reconnected to old friends and haunts, discovered new places, paid our respects to the dead, and generally had a very fine time, even on a tight budget.  There were some mixed/bittersweet emotions for both of us.  Tennessee has given me more appreciation for the relative open-mindedness of Yellow Springs, if not Ohio in general.  It was nice to talk to more progressive thinkers for a change.  Still, it was good to get back and find our house and cat still intact.  One never knows, in a place where the Civil War still plays out.

YS Day 3

One of the main reasons for this trip (other than E’s birthday) was to visit E’s son’s grave.  As I’ve mentioned, he would have been about my son’s age now.  So this day began on that sad but necessary note.

Then it was on to happier old stomping grounds…John Bryan State Park.  This time the old bridge was completely shut down for long-overdue repairs (or replacement), so our traditional loop was cut off, and our time there cut short.  There too we could see effects of the drought.

Next we grabbed lunch at Young’s Dairy, and fed the goats.  Their Jersey cows were all lined up for milking.

Nearby was the picturesque and friendly Stoney Creek Garden Center, where we browsed around their new-to-us tropicals gift shop and grounds.

Then off to town, where no visit is complete without stopping in to the Tibetan Bazaar, prime birthday gift territory.  We continued to check out some of the newer artsy shops (and cats).  Our iconic girl was still holding down the sidewalk.

Of course all that window-shopping worked up a thirst, i.e. an excuse to hang out at the Tavern.  Sam was working, and made sure we were well taken care of.  You can see I was lining them up!  She introduced me to Crabbies Scottish raspberry ginger beer, perfect on a hot day.  She threw in some freebies as well!

Then it was off to Fairborn for one of the highlights of our trip, a visit with our friends Ron and Steve (and Toto the dog).  On the way we stopped at Koogler Wetland/Prairie Reserve with its masses of yellow wildflowers.

We spent a very pleasant evening talking and catching up.  Even with all the medical and other setbacks they’ve suffered, they maintain their sense of humor and warm hospitality.

Thus ends Day 3.  One more to go…

YS Day 2

Day Two was packed with reunions.  We had friends to catch up with at many of the shops in Yellow Springs whom we haven’t seen in a year and a half.  As this was E’s birthday trip, shopping was involved, as well.

First up was Pam at Unfinished Creations, art, crafts, office, and stationary supplies.  We’ve had many discussions of a progressive nature with her, while buying earrings, gifts, tools, and misc.  In lieu of a photo of her, you can find her hiding in this picture of her favorite animal.

Next was our obligatory new age fix at Ravenwood, where we are always treated to empathy and the casting out of bad spirits, while stocking up on incense and other mystical/frivolous items.  We always feel (and smell) better after a visit there.

The next stop held a particular significance–checking up on Mister Eko the big black blobcat of Darkstar Books.  He had actually lost a couple of pounds and followed me around the shop.  Here he is holding down the comic books, floor, and books.  We were very happy to see him, as well as his very nice humans.

One of the highlights of our day was our planned visit with Sam, who works at HQ, the Tavern. She had a day off, and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours eating lunch and catching up on everything.  Of course some drinking happened as well.  She’s been through a very difficult past and come out wise beyond her young years, so it’s always an intelligent conversation.  She was one of the few who helped us move.

Then it was off to the scene of the crime, Fairborn, with its “Frankenstein’s Tower” looming over.  Our main mission was to visit our good friend Ron at The Bird Cage consignment shop, plus restock up on glassware.  We found this welcome back sign on his storefront.  We were concerned to find him suffering from a serious medical issue, but still cheerful and funny as ever.  More on him later.

No visit to the area would be complete without stopping at one of our favorite parks, Siebenthaler Fen prairie/wetlands, and walking the boardwalk.  We noticed how starkly dry it was after all the drought.  The iconic dead tree of so many past seasons was still standing, just barely.  Still, there were hardy wildflowers and favorite trees that have managed to tough it out and thrive since we were last there.  Also a beaver dam is still there.

It was a full and well-spent day.  Stay tuned for Day 3, whenever I get to it.