Last year we finally put in a trellis for our marionberries. They were sprawling all over the ground, desperately trying to conquer the house, and enough was enough. I hacked them back and we used some old posts to build a simple frame. The trellis was not an entirely painless project — most notably, digging the holes for the posts taught us exactly where our water lines were in front of the house. It also gave us some undoubtedly useful experience in patching pipes.


But this year, with some diligent pruning and training (i.e., sticking wayward canes back into the trellis), our marionberries are much more organized. And they are good. We ate the first of them today. Considering that even last year I managed to get enough for a batch of jam, I’m very hopeful about our haul this year. They are so good that we’re considering getting rid of our last Japanese maple and replacing it with more marionberries. I’ve nothing against the maple, exactly… it simply fails to be tasty.


First Cherries


Today we tasted the first cherries from our trees. Despite being ravaged by deer early in their lives, both trees have proven themselves lusty; and despite being under nets year-round, both apparently managed to pollinate the few blooms they wore this spring. I can’t pretend that the cherries we picked today tasted any better than the ones we could get elsewhere, and at the moment there are only about a dozen on the tree. But oh, they were sweet… and a few years down the road, I can imagine sitting under that tree gorging on cherries.

Of Stardust and Zombies

I ran across a lovely picture book lately: You Are Stardust. It’s about the connection between all things, and how all of our atoms were once part of a star that exploded eons ago, etc.

Yesterday I sat down with the kids to read it. I wasn’t sure how much they were getting from it, but they listened with only occasional fidgets. Near the end, though, when we got to the page explaining how other animals also form friendships, and some, like bats and whales, babysit for each other, Ryan apparently was done with it. He leapt in with his more usual thoughts.

“What if we got a knife,” he interrupted, “and killed a whole bunch of bats?”

“Well… that would be too bad,” I said. “Then we would have a bunch of dead bats.”

“Bats can poison you,” he informed me.

When we finished the book, both boys voted to re-read Zombie Makers. This is also a fun book, but in a very different and kind of creepy way: it’s about various parasites that not only kill their host but also alter its behavior in some way first, turning it in some sense into a zombie. Far more words and fewer pictures, but apparently much more to their taste.


We finally did it: we built a sandbox.


To be fair, it was sort of a bait-and-switch. We started by building a gravel pit, inspired by the fact that the kids like to dig in the gravel which is part of the foundation for each of our rain-collecting totes. We would really rather they didn’t do this, so for a long time we’ve batted around the idea of giving them an official gravel pit of their own, in the hope that their efforts could be thus channeled. I gave it a 50-50 chance.

We started looking around at our scrap wood, including a big, solid post that we’d gotten way back when from an estate sale, and the thing looked pretty easy. So easy that Dave, abandoning all procrastination, just started right in. In an afternoon we put together the frame, which weighed more than Dave and had to be rolled (awkwardly, given that it was square) across the yard to its new home. And then, since we hadn’t dug its final resting place, we ended up leaning it crazily up against the little hillock of cut-out sod that has accumulated from all of our past garden projects, as though it had been driving drunk and gotten high-centered.

But eventually it was in place, and we were practically done. It was then that Dave pointed out that our design would make it easy to add a cover. And if we could keep out the neighborhood cats, why not sand instead of gravel? There was a tie vote, but since Ryan’s vote seemed based purely in what we’d told him previously (“We can’t have sand because the cats will get in it,” he told us solemnly, multiple times) sand carried the day.

And there it is. The question is, will it get used? We’ll have to see after it stops raining.

At The River