Monday, July 31, 2017

Green Witch's Report: Day One, Iceland

I've returned!  And Iceland is a wondrous place!  For the next several days I will post about each stop we made in this fascinatingly rugged land, beginning with Akureyri (pronounced "ah-ki-dayr-dee").  Yes, I was determined to learn how to pronounce these place names...and so I did.  As a matter of fact, it became easier to pronounce Icelandic words after a time, although some shall remain elusive, especially the names of some of the volcanoes...

As we pulled into port, these are the sights we saw from our verandah...so mysterious, so ancient...the clouds like smoke...and then, running down the mountain were waterfalls everywhere!



More spectacular scenery...a very long bridge...and now our port...



It was not as cold as it looks, the highs mostly in the low 60s...but we wore Goretex coats and rain pants just in case.  Oddly, we saw no rain on this entire trip! The weather can change in a snap, so we were prepared.

Akureyri is the second largest settlement in Iceland, with a population of about 17, 000. Our guide (who happened to be a national artist of Iceland...she does installments) took us places that ranged from green lands and verdant seashores to strange, other-worldly terrain.  Yes, those are sheep.  Probably Lopi. :)



Breathtaking views everywhere we turned.  Akureyri, btw, is in the very north central part of Iceland, deep in an Icelandic fjord, Eyjafjordur.  Because of the glaciers, there are rushing rivers and waterfalls everywhere.



And because of all of the volcanos, there are miles of lava fields from past eruptions.  The second picture is Godafoss Waterfall, a spectacular sight.  I'm having problems with this site, as it keeps reporting that there are errors.  I think I know the culprit...I'll be back later, once their conscience kicks in.  Sheesh.


I'm back.  There were geysers (pronounced "gazers") and bubbling "mud pots..."



And almost "lunar" terrain.  There is no life in the center of Iceland, only black deserts and glaciers.  All the life exists on the shores.



And I know I would be remiss if I did not include some of the fascinating plant life that grows here.   I'm always amazed at the fortitude of plants, as delicate as they seem...the white one on the right I believe is a kind of yarrow.



Loved these cheery little flowers, and the shrub on the right reminded me of Lamb's Ears because the leaves were hairy and soft...



I'll leave you with this delightful picture of a stream, wilder than wild...



© 2017 Nancy Duncan











Thursday, July 13, 2017

Green Witch's Report: Before Iceland

Before I fly out, I needed to tend to my gardens.  They're important to me, as they should be.  This time of the summer things are needing deadheading more often, and cutting back to encourage new growth.  The gardens are looking more stressed from the intense heat, and honestly, our ozone levels allow for the burning of their leaves, which makes them not as pretty.  In the long run, though, it doesn't hurt the plants, as their essential life force is in their roots which, by now, are fully developed (that is why I only water about one inch a week, even in this heat...their roots can hold the water longer now...and it preserves our precious water resources). Really, my friends...you don't need to water every day! :)

Here the Variegated Mondo Grass and Hostas are growing nicely in the Grandchildren's Garden...It's a simple little garden where we plant whatever inspires the children.  When I return, we will plant small white pumpkins...yay!




Out back the Rose Garden is suffering, but still relatively green.  Soon I will need to cut at an angle the iris leaves so the tubers can prepare for next spring. The Crepe Myrtles have lost their blooms for the most part...but the Butterfly Garden is thriving!



The Moon Garden is also suffering in the heat...it was so much prettier last year.  A mole got the White Gaura, and last winter's weeklong exceptionally cold temperatures killed the White Spanish Lavender.  Ah.  Gardening is always a challenge! It's never the same experience.  I like that.


In the front, I've cut back many of the herbs, leaving the large leaves of the Comfrey to shelter others.  Here I've harvested some Tansy Buttons, Sweet Basil, some kind of Thai Basil, and French Tarragon...mmmmmm...my fingers still smell sweet!  If a grasshopper has left some holes from his nibbling, no worries, as these herbs will be dried and used in sweet pillows, or dream pillows...



And I'd like to leave you with this happy photo of the Black-eyed Susans, which are taller this year than I've ever seen them!



Take some time this week to stroll in a garden.  It will rejuvenate your Soul.  When this little Green Witch returns from her faraway travels, she will have pictures from other lands...see you then...!!

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Far Away...

I'm taking to the skies...and sailing over the seas...to a land far, far away...a land of ice and waterfalls and volcanoes and geothermal pools and, yes, Trolls and (they say) even Witches!  But I'll be back...watch for me!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Tonight!

Last night's Corona Moon was something, but tonight's almost-full moon is better to me.  I love her softness and dark/lightness...Seriously...how can you not be affected by such beauty?!  Then again, I'm a Full Moon Child, born on a full moon...
I awaken in the middle of the night when the moon approaches her fullness.  She shines on me and there is no way for me to go back to sleep, it makes me so happy....



© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Friday, July 7, 2017

Moon Corona

The evening before last there was a rainbow...this evening I saw a "Moon Corona," similar to a halo around the moon but not as wide and more intense in color.  A corona has something to do with ice crystals and thin, wispy clouds.  Pretty.  Very pretty.  It makes me think of auras...



© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Stars...

Sometimes the stars align just right.  My eldest grandson has come for the night, we had a delicious dinner, we have discussed everything from his wonderful sketches to dreams we have, the ice cream truck came by...and when we took a walk, well, just look at this....Yup. Perfect.




© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Monday, July 3, 2017

Upon the Beauty of Writing

I must share this beauty.  When I write, I read, rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit.  And then appreciate.  Take it all in, but still critically.  Today, reading my rewritten draft of Goody Prymm, I couldn't help but notice and love the way the light shone upon the pages.  A lovely time out from the critical viewing. Thought into words into print into light.  Hopefully into publication.



© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Green Witch's Report: Reflections on a Summer's Day





I was headed out to deadhead my flowers and cut back the fast-growing herbs...and my mind began to meander down a country gravel road deep in the woods of the Appalachian Foothills of Kentucky. The initial purpose of the trip was to pick up a late 1700s Kentucky great wheel, which I had purchased (after much study and deliberation) from a woman in Lexington who had bought it decades earlier at an historic estate sale.  She believed it had been painted with buttermilk paint, but after consulting furniture restorers who specialize in furniture from the 1700s and 1800s, I was told that it was painted with an earth based pigment of that time period.  I fell in love with it, the spindles on its large wheel being hand carved branches. Anyway, it was a challenge to fit "Buttermilk" into my Versa (lol!); of course we had to dismantle it...the bench and the legs alone weighed a LOT. And then we drove everywhere, antique great wheel in the back seat.  One of the places we travelled to was Tater Knob Pottery and Farm, waaaaaaayyyyy back in those Kentucky hills, a place in which you can easily get lost.  But spotting a small humble sign indicating "pottery" with an arrow leading to another road, away we drove, following that arrow.  It was a delightful pottery to visit, as we were greeted with ice-cold homemade tea (was it?) served in their own pottery mugs, perfect for refreshment.  It is here the proprietors and their son make one-of-a- kind pieces.  This was what I purchased...


They told me that these kinds of pieces were once placed in graveyards to keep away evil spirits.  Looking at his face, I can understand that.  :)  He sits under the pottery bird bath in my gardens now, keeping guard.  And it must be working because I've not been bothered by any dark spirits!

Anyway, if you have a chance to visit them in person or online, I encourage you to do it...

Back to my gardens, the herbs are really growing now and are quite ready for their first harvest...here the kitchen basil is ready, as are the French tarragon and oregano.




The lemon verbena on the left below is looking good but is still a bit too small to harvest.  I planted it last year...and am surprised it returned.  The other basil in flower now is a Thai basil...a very pungent fragrance.  Almost perfumy...and quite pretty.



Nearby is this little pepper plant (see below on the left), which I only purchased for the birds' delight...can't remember its name for all the world...but those little pepper-berries stay on the plant even through winter, as its branches are bare, giving my little garden a pop of red on a cold winter's day.  The chrysanthemums were purchased some autumn ago.  I always buy chrysanthemums to accompany the pumpkins on my porch in the fall and then plant them in my garden, allowing them to bloom several times before the next fall.  And what's this??  My hummingbird bush is already getting spikes of bright red, an invitation to the seasonal hummingbird visitors.  I don't like to use hummingbird "food" made of sugar water.  I prefer they drink what they are intended to drink.




The dark red autumn sage (salvia) is blooming...I'm afraid I've let it get a bit "spindly," but it's in competition with the blue mist, not yet really blooming.  Yes, those echinacea in the background need deadheading!  And the black pin cushion flower on the right below I adore...the fish you see in the Indian feather grass and driftwood once held a rain gauge.  Now he just swims in an imaginary pond world.  The tiny fragrant blooms behind the pottery carp look like stars...























We've had so much rain (at least for us) that the roses are blooming again...this is my Marie Pavier antique rose, circa 1888 below left)...and...we have mushrooms!!!  I think they are just so darn cute.  I would like to study mushrooms and lichen one day...



Seriously...how cute is this, growing betwixt and between....



Finally, there's sedum, which, as far as I know, has no purpose for a green witch other than to provide beauty...and that's enough, too.  ETA:  Seems sedum does indeed have medicinal properties...just further bolsters my belief that every living thing on this earth has a purpose.  Here I've place my stone "bear's paw" among the growing sedum.  Well, enough dreaming of summers-gone-past.  Time to focus on the "now," and that, my friends, mean deadheading!!


© 2017 Nancy Duncan