return to round hill   11 comments

The dogs and I have returned to the old house at Round Hill. The weather has been very cold and damp – a familiar scene around much of North America this spring. I was feeling as though I must be turning into a wimp, but after overhearing a few conversations at the hardware and grocery stores this week, it appears that I’m in good company as there was much cursing and moaning on the part of the local population.

In spite of the weather, the dogs and are are doing okay, but have had to spend an inordinate amount of time holed up in the living room which has been converted into a bedroom-office. I have taken to calling it my Cape Evan’s hut. Although much work on the house is planned for this summer, for now, it’s too wet and miserable to work up much interest in carpentry. Instead, I’m devoting my time and energy into yard clean-up and gardening. Two new rhododendrons, fifty strawberry plants of two varieties, and about two dozen large perennial clumps were purchased for the garden and I have been busily working up garden space and planting the latest acquisitions. Also added is the Mexican Talavera ceramic coyote which I carefully packed and brought back from Bisbee (see above). To me, he seems like the embodiment of desert light, brightening up an otherwise misty coastal garden. I had hoped to bring back a large iguana as well, but after packing my van for the trip home, I realized that the iguana would have made an already crowded situation even worse. Maybe next year.

About the middle of last week, I was struck by a brainstorm for solving the problem of what to do about a big heap of crumbling planks in the back garden. It was too large and rotted to load up and move to a waste disposal site. However, I reasoned that it would make good organic fill for the hollow at the end of the yard. It took about fifteen wheelbarrow loads to move everything to the new location. During the clean-up process a 4.5 cm red eft was exposed (see above). An eft is the terrestrial juvenile stage of a newt – in this case, of the Red-spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens). Sorry for having disturbed the eft, I relocated it to the end of the garden where I dumped the rotted wood. Hopefully the little creature will find adequate food and shelter.

After removing the last of the wood, I dug up a bed in which to plant two varieties of strawberries – Annapolis Early, and Bounty, which is a late season variety.

Also found in the tangle of grass and rotted wood was the above snail. I wrote to my friend, Dr. Fred Schueler, to find out which species it might be. He identified it as Cepaea hortensis. Here is another view showing the working side of things.

A few hard days of digging and now I am sitting in my room waiting for the rain to stop. Today, I made periodic trips outdoors to empty the five-gallon collector pails that catch water from the drip edge of the roof. There are two large rainbarrels for water storage, and I am thinking of adding one or two more. I store the water to use for washing laundry and watering the garden.

On dreary days when the rain is pounding down, I sometimes wonder why I am doing any of this. I work quite hard just taking care of the daily stuff as the house has no modern conveniences. Basically, it’s just a step above camping. However, finding a little newt in the garden, seeing an Osprey winging over the rooftop clutching sticks for its nest, or having an enraged Pheasant pace back and forth outside the kitchen window screaming at his reflection in the glass, help to remind me that this is why I am here, doing what I set out to do when I bought this place. Not to try to make the house into something it can never be, but to live in harmony with whatever exists here. I will write more soon.

P.S.: I would like to call attention to two posts on Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ Artlog, at this and also this link. Clive has provided a wonderful “tour” of the retrospective exhibit of his art at the National Library of Wales. Be sure to click on at least a few of the photos to see much larger views. It really is quite something. I regret that I can only attend via the internet!

Written by bev wigney on May 16th, 2011