I’m up early, enjoying the quiet morning light in my studio. The neighborhood crows woke up about the same time I did and immediately jumped on their social networks, which seem as well populated as Facebook and as heated as Twitter. I haven’t dipped into mine yet. Lately I want to preserve the peace of the morning as long as possible. I’ll catch up with the news over breakfast, in an hour or two.
Today is my radiation planning appointment—a dress rehearsal of sorts. They’ll figure out how best to position me in the machine and give me a tiny dot tattoo to mark the zapping spot, a little blue freckle. Or maybe two. I’m amused by the cliché of it all. Move to Portland, get a tattoo. 🙂
Things we have seen growing in our neighbors’ front yards on our daily walks:
• corn, including a thick stand of it along the road across from our nearest park;
• figs, ripening;
• raspberries, lots;
• blackberries, growing wild at the edge of the schoolyard fence;
• tomatoes in abundance;
• vegetables of all kinds, often in large raised garden beds on the strip of land between sidewalk and street;
• giant Russian thistle, utterly to swoon for;
• countless pollinator plants, thrilling me no end;
• loads of Queen Anne’s lace growing like weeds in the grass and along the verge;
• walnut trees, including two in our next-door neighbor’s yard;
• and all sorts of interesting things.
Yesterday Scott and I had just arrived home from the store when a car pulled over in front of our house and the driver took a picture of it. I got out of our car, and the driver saw me and rolled down her window. “I’m so sorry,” she said, “it’s just that I lived here when I was a little girl!”
Her grandparents were the original owners of the house. She and her mother moved in with them when she was eight years old, 61 years ago, because her mother was dying. After her mother’s death, L. continued living with her grandparents and aunt for another five years. She had lots of stories about her neighbors from that time, including the family who had refused to sell when Fred Meyer bought up a bunch of house lots to build a store on a main road nearby.
We gave her a tour and she told us all about what the house used to look like before some remodeling was done. Turns out my studio was her childhood bedroom. The spot I’m sitting in right now in my comfy gray chair used to be a doorway. “A glass door that led to my grandmother’s bedroom,” she told me. “The closet is exactly the same.”
The big old tree her bedroom used to look out upon is gone, but many of the neighboring trees are the same—the very same treetops serving as a morning gathering-place for the local crows. From my cozy chair I can hear three or four of them gabbing away, probably telling stories they learned from their grandmothers about the little girl who used to live here sixty years ago.
Here’s a list of bloggers who are participating in scsours‘s very cool 100 Species Challenge.
scsours, who started it all
The Bookworm (England)
Sandra Dodd (New Mexico)
The Common Room family
Carmon at Buried Treasure
Learn-O-Rama (North Carolina)
Zoo on Wheels
Yellow House Homeschool (Southeastern France)
Kathy at Restoration Place
Melanie at Wine-Dark Sea
Patricia at Wonderfarm (Northern California)
Ann of Holy Experience
Fiddler of Rockhound Place (New England)
MamaB at My Little Soapbox
JoVE’s family at Tricotmania
Angi at 4 Is Crazy
MacBeth (Long Island)
Love2Learn Mom (Wisconsin)
Ivy at Spinning Lovely Days
Theresa in Alaska said she might participate. I hope she does! Alaska! And several other commenters have said they might join in. I’ll add those links as they come.
Here’s my family’s running list for San Diego. I’ll post new entries as new posts and then add the info to the running list. We already have a bunch more plants to enter.
If you’d like to be added to this list, leave a link in the comments! (And if you’re not a blogger but want to share your family’s list, let me know. I can put you in your own post. 🙂 ) And if you’re on the list above and would like me to add your location, leave a comment for that too. I think it’s even more fun if we know the general whereabouts of people’s lists.
Don’t know what the 100 Species Challenge is? This post explains.
Updated to add this link to our family’s running list.
At The Common Room I learned about the 100 Species Challenge, the brainchild of scsours over at xanga. The idea, sparked by a quote about how few people can name a hundred plant species in their own neighborhood, is to become the exception to that observation by learning to identify the flora of your own surroundings.
Back in Virginia, we could have filled up our list right quick! But here in San Diego, as I’ve mentioned before, a good many of the plants are new to us. No longer can I dazzle my family with my encyclopedic horticultural knowledge. Nowadays, our jaunts around town are full of conversations along these lines:
Scott: “Ooh, pretty flowers. What are those called?”
Me: “I have no idea.”
Scott, incredulous: “But…but…but that’s your job!”
Which means, I guess, that all the other stuff I do around here is just a hobby. 😉
(Melissa Wiley: changes diapers for fun.)
Anyway. The 100 Species Challenge sounds like just what I need to regain my former lofty position as Family Guru of Flora and Fauna. (I’m thinking we’ll add fauna to our challenge: a second hundred-species list.)
Here are the rules:
1. Participants should include a copy of these rules and a link to this entry in their initial blog post about the challenge. I will make a sidebar list of anyone who notifies me that they are participating in the Challenge.
2. Participants should keep a list of all plant species they can name, either by common or scientific name, that are living within walking distance of the participant’s home. The list should be numbered, and should appear in every blog entry about the challenge, or in a sidebar.
3. Participants are encouraged to give detailed information about the plants they can name in the first post in which that plant appears. My format will be as follows: the numbered list, with plants making their first appearance on the list in bold; each plant making its first appearance will then have a photograph taken by me, where possible, a list of information I already knew about the plant, and a list of information I learned subsequent to starting this challenge, and a list of information I’d like to know. (See below for an example.) This format is not obligatory, however, and participants can adapt this portion of the challenge to their needs and desires.
4. Participants are encouraged to make it possible for visitors to their blog to find easily all 100-Species-Challenge blog posts. This can be done either by tagging these posts, by ending every post on the challenge with a link to your previous post on the challenge, or by some method which surpasses my technological ability and creativity.
5. Participants may post pictures of plants they are unable to identify, or are unable to identify with precision. They should not include these plants in the numbered list until they are able to identify it with relative precision. Each participant shall determine the level of precision that is acceptable to her; however, being able to distinguish between plants that have different common names should be a bare minimum.
6. Different varieties of the same species shall not count as different entries (e.g., Celebrity Tomato and Roma Tomato should not be separate entries); however, different species which share a common name be separate if the participant is able to distinguish between them (e.g., camillia japonica and camillia sassanqua if the participant can distinguish the two–“camillia” if not).
7. Participants may take as long as they like to complete the challenge. You can make it as quick or as detailed a project as you like. I’m planning to blog a minimum of two plants per week, complete with pictures and descriptions as below, which could take me up to a year. But you can do it in whatever level of detail you like.
I will probably create a separate page for our running lists: link to come.* The kids can help me keep it updated. It’s going to be fun to see how many we know right off the bat. We really have already learned a great deal in our almost two years here. (Can you believe it has been almost two years?)
Okay, what this project needs now is a pretty little button.** I would pester Alice Cantrell for one of her beautiful watercolors but it’s her gardening season and she just might be a tad busy!
*No time like the present: here it is!
**I tried my hand at a few (and stuck one in up above). Other contributions welcome.
Updated to add: Here’s a Flickr page for our Challenge as well.