June 30, 2008

Mystical Glowing Sticks

Friday night we drove up and had to pitch our tent in the dark because we got there just before midnight. It was a beautiful night, and the little flying squirrel was busy stealing from the bird feeder until I went over with a flashlight and told it the sunflower seeds were for the birds. Saturday morning was buggy and rainy but it turned into a nice day by the afternoon. Jared decided he wanted to build a horseshoe pit, and although I tried to distract him with other projects, he finally dragged me along to help him find the perfect site. We picked a spot just over our property line which is fairly flat and clear of brush. Curtis and Jordana came to hang out with us and after eating hamburgers and hotdogs over the campfire flames, we had a game of horseshoes. They won... Later in the evening Jared saw something glowing in the horseshoe pit. It turns out that a rotting log he had moved has some kind of fungus on it that glows in the dark. There was a big stick with a glowing end, and it looked like a mystical staff. It was very interesting, and after doing a little bit of research I now know that it is called fungal bioluminescence, or foxfire. It is common in wood rotting fungi but the adaptive function is still unknown to science.

On Sunday we buckled down and decided to get some actual work done. Jared's project was working on the concrete for the bunky piers. He got them all lined up and level, and mixed the concrete to fill them. It looks so awesome! He did a really great job, but he will have to finish them next weekend. I am so excited with how everything is coming together. Jared said that in 2 weeks we will be able to put down some beams on the piers for our floor joists to sit on. I can hardly wait! It is really exciting to build something.

While Jared worked at the building site, I had my own little project on the go. I decided I was going to finish our pathway and steps down into the campsite. I had to bug Jared to help me out with some heavy rocks a few times, and together we created another 3 steps. It was difficult to work around the big rocks in the ground, but the steps turned out to be really interesting. They wind down the hillside in an "S" shape. I now have another garden area to work on at the top of the steps, and I am extremely happy with our landscaping. After a hard day of physical labour, we relaxed around a roaring bonfire, had some fun with sparklers, and spent a lot of time looking up at millions of stars glittering in the night sky.

Monday morning I planted a couple of trees I had brought up, and Jared started to pack up the camping gear. I saw a Red-berried Elder (Sambucus racemosa ssp. pubens) with bright red berries hanging off it, with a huge granite boulder as a backdrop. These berries are poisonous to people, but birds love them. The berries on the Common Hobblebush (Viburnum alnifolium) are getting big and green. I have to remember to get a photograph of them when they are ripe before the birds get to them. We left just as it started to rain, but I didn't want to leave. We accomplished many things this weekend and had a lot of fun at the same time.

June 21, 2008

Bunky Legs

Today we took a day trip to start on our piers for our bunky. I was very excited to see a pink lady's slipper blooming in the parking area when we arrived. I saw them for the first time ever in 2006 and missed them last year. I was a little disappointed to see only one flower, but happy that I at least got to see it and get a beautiful picture. The mosquitos and black flies are still pesky, but today the deer flies were out in full force and they annoyed Jared and myself until we finally decided to put up our screen tent so we could sit in our chairs and enjoy the day without bug nets over our heads.

Since we still need cement to pour into our pier blocks, we decided to just stack them on our footings to see how many we needed to complete the posts. Jared had to use the wheelbarrow (and the tire was going flat under the weight of the blocks) to bring the blocks to the site from the truck. After Jared stacked them it was really neat for us to see how high up our cabin is going to be. We are going to have a great view of the valley from our balcony. Next weekend we are going to stack the rest of the blocks, level them and then fill the holes with cement. Then we can get to some serious building of our structure.

My gardens are still doing great, and my Dianthus 'Arctic Star' was in full bloom. I love how everytime we go up to the property we get to see something new blooming. My Summersweet shrub has a ton of flower buds on it and I can't wait until they fill the campsite with a lovely fragrance. I planted a Juniper, Weigela, and a 'Little Henry' Sweetspire that may or may not survive the zone 4b conditions (it is planted on the south side of a large boulder so I am hoping it will be in a microclimate). There were many butterflies sunning themselves on the huge boulders, and I am thinking I should create a butterfly garden complete with edible plants for the larvae so that we can have butterflies fluttering around all summer long.

June 1, 2008

Mosquitos From Hell

Jared and I drove up Friday afternoon to Rock Pile Ridge. It was raining, but we had new raincoats and tarps so we were ready for it. It turned out to be a really fun night. We even set up a tarp over our steps so we could sit near the fire and not get wet. We threw a couple of cherry logs onto the fire and they burned all night long, and after a while we didn't even notice that it was raining (except for the sounds of raindrops on the tarp). It was definitely one of the best nights we spent on our property in the rain.

Saturday morning we had a thunderstorm, but by the time I crawled out of the tent it had stopped. The sun shone most of the day, and we took full advantage of the beautiful weather. My tulips were opening to the sunlight and they look so pretty beside the pathway. I planted a couple of plants in the campsite and lined the edge of the shrub garden with some rocks. While I was gathering rocks, I turned one over and discovered a Northern Ringneck Snake underneath which took me by surprise. Jared showed off his forestry skills by cutting down about 5 trees to create a clearing so that we can get some sunshine into our campsite, and have a great view of the stars at night. My job was limbing up the trees, making brush piles, then stacking the logs just behind our shrub garden. After we were done it looked really great. I can't wait until I replant that area with some understorey trees and shrubs to rejuvinate it. Unfortunately, the mosquitos managed to find any exposed skin they could and turned one of my hands itchy and swollen. Jared also set up the log bench that my dad made for us out of a Basswood tree. It looks great in the campsite!

Today it was drizzling and cold, and once again the mosquitos were out in full force. We were both surprised that we hadn't seen a single bird at our feeders all weekend even though we filled them on Friday evening, but we did have a Red Squirrel and Chipmunk visiting us so we threw them some peanuts. I saw some Starflowers and Canada Mayflowers blooming. We had to leave early to go home, but with the weather the way it was, it was easy to pack things up. On the way home Jared stopped so I could take some pictures of White Trilliums that were turning pink along the side of the road.