Sunday, August 30, 2009

Community and Design

My family moved to Reston, Virginia in 1969. It was called a new town, and my mother attracted to the exiting new community that was forming around Lake Ann Plaza. They realized it was an ideal place to raise children.
Because Reston was designed by Robert E. Simon to be a walking community, my mother was thrilled that she would not have to drive us everywhere we went. As young adolescents, my sister and I covered a lot of ground. It was a win/win...freedom for my mother, freedom for us. I spent my childhood, mostly unsupervised, meandering through nature with walking trails that lead to Lake Anne Plaza, the community pools, lakes, community centers, horse barns, schools and clusters of beautiful, modern town homes.

Thanks to Wikipedia, I just now learned Lake Anne Plaza was designed by James Rossant to emulate the Italian coastal town of Portofino. A little factoid I did not know about my hometown, but when I visited the villages of Cinque Terra, Italy, as I sat in the piazze eating wonderful food, I watched the children playing wildly about the piazza on a Friday night, while the parents sat at the tables of the outdoor cafes, sipping wine and visiting with friends. I was reminded of my own childhood, so similar on any given Friday night on Lake Anne Plaza. We were wide open and allowed to roam while our parents ate and drank at the cafe.

In 2003 as result of finding each other through a spontaneous reunion happened on Lake Ann Plaza with the now, scattered across the planet, group of souls that bonded on that plaza during all the revolutionary changes of the 60's and 70's.

I grew up in a well designed town. It developed my interest in nature, design, art and architecture. Today I found a great slide show on another planned city called Forest Hills Gardens, in Queens, New York. Forest Hills Gardens introduced the British garden City movement to the United States and is now 100 years old.

I was listening to a local radio program last week about a new sustainable living model being developed called agriburbia .
The idea is that the homeowners association provides the infrastructure for the farmers. So, the town itself would build the greenhouse, irrigation, barns, and equipment needed while building a community around farming. It makes good sense to me. Developers love to build communities around golf courses, which don't really appeal to me. I grew up with fields and rivers and streams and barns. I would love to see a community developed that centered itself around such things.

Yesterday I was going over a landscape plan with a couple who live on Heavenly Mountain. Heavenly Mountain is a beautiful meditation community and spiritual retreat. As soon as you enter the gate, you can sense the peaceful energies of the area. Yet another example of intention for community.

These things are on my mind as I dream of my next home. I spent a few afternoons this week sketching designs for a Cob House I would love to build.
On my 49th birthday I treated my self to a week long Cob Building workshop in Tennessee. There is a magical quality that draws me to the sculptured earth friendly home. I don't know how it could all come together yet, but obviously my soul is talking to me about community and home. I have learned to follow my soul wherever it leads me, though I do get distracted from time to time, usually via having to earn a living.....and if the perfect wee cottage shows up in my life that I don't have to pat together from mud, I may take that instead....just sayin....

I am enjoying the winged insects and thier late summer songs. They inspire me to day dream, and vision for what I want to create next in my wee little gardeners life.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Harvest Season

The August light has returned and I am enjoying the late summer sounds of crickets and other winged creatures.

This morning I watched the butterflies work over my Joe Pye weed, which towers above the garden at almost 9 feet tall.

We have been experiencing the effects of
Tomato and Potato Late Blight this summer. It is devastating. One day your plants are healthy looking and lush, the next day the entire plant is black and rotting. In a rainy year like we are having here in the mountains of Noth Carolina late blight has devastated the entire harvest. I have bought tomato's from Zydeco Moon Farm at the Blowing Rock Farmers Market and asked them how they managed thier tomato's organically.

They use a biological fungicide called Serenade early in the growing season and copper sulfate as the season progresses. The main ingredient in Serenade is Bacillus subtilis strain QST 713. B. subtilis strain QST 713 (marketed as QST 713 or Serenade) has a natural fungicidal activity. Not a dangerous to humans other words. Copper is a mineral useful to plants, and is used effectively in the grape production to control fungal disease.

Next year I will be armed and ready for the blight. I was able to pick several boxes of my favorite tomato's from the patch I planted at the dairy farm this spring. I made sauce from the Black Plum, and dried the little oxheart tomato Princepe Borghese So I have been busy and eating well!

I have noticed that Finn has quite a weekly routine going on at work. On Monday's, his friend Daisy cleans out the fridge, and Finn gets snacks of the leftovers from the weekend barbecues. Sometimes he stands at the door and barks, like he is expecting a meatball to arrive. There is a nice pond on that job for his swimming entertainment and liquid requirements.

On Tuesdays, as soon as we arrive to the job, he is off to Debbie's garage next door. He is friends with her black lab 'Abbie'. Finn likes to borrow some of Abbie's toys for the day. We always return them when our work is done and head for home. If the garage is closed, he will sit there and bark until Debbie opens the door and gives him a treat, which Finn knows are kept on the shelf with the toys. He always seems to get back to the job in time for his treat from his buddy Welbourn.

There is now a construction job going on across the street, and Finn loves construction workers...they always have sticks and snacks, so he heads over there for a while. I can hear them playing and talking with Finn while I work. Sometimes he proudly brings me back a chunk of 2 x 4 so we can play while we work. If he gets a little hot, he heads over to Dean's next door where we built the pond and goes for a dip.

Dean has two Shar-pei dogs that have a big pottery crock of toys on their back porch, so when ever we water the planters there, Finn sticks his head in the crock and takes out every single toy....which we have to put back before we leave.

Sometimes on Thursdays we head over to the Farm Market to help Matt Cooper keep his little girl Sita entertained while he sells his produce. Finn with the little ones is a dear sight, they all love him, and he attracts a lot of dog loving customers to his table. It is a very dog friendly market. And Blowing Rock is a very dog friendly town.

On Fridays we start out the day on Wonderland trail, where a new home is being built right next to the garden we manage there. The construction workers there feed Finn bologna sandwiches and throw sticks over the cliff of the gorge for Finn to haul back up the mountain. He loves this, and is shortly exhausted from the fun. When we finish there, we head over to Margaret and Franks who are big lab lovers. They sometimes share a bit of peanut butter sandwich, or last week a turkey burger, much to his delight. They even let Finn in the house at times, and last week Finn tried to climb into Margaret's lap while she was petting him on the porch.

By the end of the day we are over by the elementary school, just in time for recess. As soon as hear hears the voices of children he is off running, ears flapping in the wind to go to the playground where hundreds of kids happen to think he is a really cool dog.

What a life he lives. Most in Blowing Rock know Finn by name now.