Rainy Day Fun in NH

There are plenty of options for a rainy July day in New Hampshire. It’s sunny most of the month, so when the rain patters on the roof you have some rare indoor time to fill. One could use this time for some house cleaning or for a trip to the grocery store. Hubby chose to use his rainy day making a few indoor repairs. Quick trips out to the shed for tools meant he got a little wet.

There are some fun things you can do as well. Here’s a sampling:

Check your bookshelf for a book to read or a jigsaw puzzle to assemble. If the day turns cool, it might be the time to bake something. I already had strawberry-rhubarb crumble in the fridge, so no baking for me.

Instead, I decided to get crafty.  Last year, I’d picked up some miniature unpainted birdhouses from Michael’s. This seemed the perfect time to pretty them up. I already had a stash of leftover oil paints from a paint-by-number kit. Remember those? That gave me a variety of colors to use on the tiny houses.

 

Here’s my first attempt, using some red fabric to cover the roof and adding some heart-shaped flowers. I’ll spray this with a sealant and hope it holds up for a summer outside if I put it in a sheltered area.

The second one ended up with a birch bark theme. It was a sheet of bark that I found in the woods last year. I’m such a packrat, but now I had a use for it.

 

I was surprised at how easy it was to cut the bark with ordinary scissors. My glue gun worked fine for securing the bark to the walls of the faux birdhouse. Do you think it looks OK with a white roof or should I paint that?

These are going into my planting areas to add a little color in a few spots too shady for most plants. I’ll tuck in some moss and a little fern for a fairy garden. That’s a huge gardening trend the last few years. I haven’t seen any fairies but maybe the availability of houses will attract some.

You can read more about fairy gardening online. Perhaps your grandchildren would like to create one the next time they visit. They could make little houses out of bark, collect stones for a path, make a little fence out of twigs. It’s great fun for kids or even grown-ups. Don’t wait for a rainy day.

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Do You Have Rattlesnakes?

I mean downy rattlesnake plantains. It’s very unlikely in New Hampshire to have actual rattlesnakes, though there is a place named Rattlesnake Island on Lake Winnepausakee.  What I’m talking about is a wild plant that is a type of orchid.

rattlesnake plant in New Hampshire woods

The downy rattlesnake plant puts up a flower stalk with small white flowers.

I’d only seen these in one spot as I rambled around the woods near Great East Lake. They are by the path leading from the Lake Forest clubhouse going to the #9 green of the golf course.  They are very low to the ground and most people walk right past them without noticing. Since I hadn’t seen them elsewhere, I considered them sort of rare.

Then I found a patch right behind our park model on the location where our shed was to go. Not wanting to see these killed, I risked transplanting them. They adjusted to their new location just 6 feet away and still in the woods. To encourage them, I watered them during the dryest times and they continued to spread. I even found volunteers coming up in my path and in a flower bed.

Rattlesnake plant in NH

Note the distinctive silvery vein pattern on the leaves. of the rattlesnake plant.

This summer, I decided I would enjoy them more if I moved them again. In the woods, they sometimes get hidden by leaves. Their new home was a shady flower bed which they would share with 2 beech trees, a rhododendron, and a some underperforming hydrangeas. I surrounded the small plantains with red shredded mulch, watered them with Miracle-Gro, and admired how pretty they looked.

The squirrels took an interest in my digging. Convinced that I must be hiding nuts, for a week they diligently dug holes all around the rattlesnake plants. Finally, they gave it up after finding nothing edible.

rattlesnake plant mulch

I think the red mulch shows off the rattlesnake plants quite well.

Here’s what the plants like, “dappled sunlight, acidic soils with organic matter, and a layer of mulch to ensure consistent soil moisture.” For more information, I did an online search for Downy Rattlesnake Plant. It warns against collecting it from the wild, but I consider my plants more of a rescue.

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Finding the First Wild Blueberries

On my walk yesterday, I found some wild blueberries ready to pick. I’d figured it would be a while yet before that happened so it surprised me to see bright blue on a small clump. It was a particularly sunny spot so I guess those had a headstart.

Handful of wild blueberries

Fill your hand with small wild blueberries when you take a walk in NH.

 

They won’t be as large as the domestic blueberries but a handful makes a nice snack while you’re out walking. If you plan ahead and tuck a plastic bag in your pocket, you can bring them home to toss into your muffins the next time you bake or put them in pancakes.

wild blueberries in New Hampshire

Look for wild blueberries in New Hampshire in early July.

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Late June, Early July Flowers

I love the flower descriptions and photos from this blog. Many of these are new to me and it makes me want to get out hiking in more places in NH so I can see these first-hand.

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

Tall meadow rue flowers (Thalictrum pubescens) always bloom close to the 4th of July and always remind me of “bombs bursting in air.” These are the plant’s male flowers; starbursts of petal-less dark yellow tipped stamens.

I don’t see tall meadow rue in meadows unless the meadow is very wet. I usually find it growing at the edge of streams or in ditches as the example in the above photo was. In fact this one sat just where a ditch met a stream. It was down an embankment, which was a good thing because it often grows 7-8 feet tall and towers over me. Getting above it is usually next to impossible without a ladder. Native Americans are said to have given lethargic horses ground meadow rue leaves and flowers to increase their vigor and to renew their spirit and endurance. In spring the plant’s young leaves fool…

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Blue Bird’s Egg

On my summer walks in the woods, I cast my eyes on the forest floor looking for photographic subjects. My favorites are bird feathers, mushrooms, and wildflowers.

blue bird egg

A blue bird egg found in the New Hampshire woods.

On one walk, I spied a blue bird’s egg. The fragment of shell was such a delightful color I had to capture it with my Canon Powershot SX20is. The egg might have been from a robin or an eastern bluebird.

Months later, the shell has disappeared, long since hidden under the autumn leaves and then buried under New Hampshire’s winter snows. With the magic of photography, it lives forever in my computer. There I can take it out to examine and admire at any time.

 

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My NH Summer Weight Loss Plan

The first summer that I spent in New Hampshire, I went back home ten pounds lighter. How could anyone do that while eating fried seafood and lobster dipped in melted butter? Actually, it was unplanned and was a nice surprise for me when I stepped on the scale at the end of the season.

Here’s the secret. Well, it’s not really a secret. You probably know all about it.

  • walk
  • bike
  • kayak
  • golf
  • garden

Being in New Hampshire from May to September means you are in the perfect place for outdoor activity. Sure, there are a few rainy days and even one or two really hot ones. For the most part, the temperatures are a delight and the humidity isn’t bad, so go outside.

Ginger Allain & Tim Patterson

There are rivers and lakes for swimming or kayaking. There are woodsy trails for hiking or sauntering. There are hills to climb, vistas to see, and nature in all its glory. Wear comfortable shoes and take the camera.

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I must admit that the last few summers, this plan didn’t work well for me. Sciatica was the problem two years ago and another time, it was plantar fasciitis. For 2018, I’m determined to get back to regular walking.

By the end of the summer, I’m planning to be fitter and lighter. My garden will look lovely from all the digging, planting, and weed-pulling that I have planned. My step-counting watch will keep me honest and on-the-move. This will be the summer to put my New Hampshire Weight Loss Progam into action again.

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The Beauty of Tiny Things

Back in 2007, I discovered the macro feature on our digital camera. It was there all along, but I’d skipped past most of the manual. Taking photographs of people and scenery didn’t usually require special buttons.

That year, as the summer in New Hampshire eased into fall, I had some time to explore and amuse myself. Getting our cottage situated, a sunroom and decks added, furnishings found, and a garden planted consumed most of the summer.

deck on a cottage in the NH woods

The finished front deck.

Our garden was an adventure in learning. Would it be too shady with the tall trees looming over our site? What would grow best in New England’s short growing season? I delighted in each blossom that validated our choices.

Even though we’d worked hard all summer, I’d soaked up the atmosphere of this new place. I fell in love with the wildflowers, the plush mosses and odd lichens and the textures of pine needles and birch bark.

I wanted to capture these visual delights that made my summer special. That’s when I pulled out the digital camera and read the instructions for the macro photo taking. It didn’t sound that hard; just click on the button with the flower symbol, get within a foot to 2 inches of the subject, and don’t wobble while pushing the shutter. Surely I could manage that.

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The results exceeded my expectations. The close-up photographs revealed even greater beauty in the flowers than I could see from my normal viewpoint. I wanted to capture everything with this small box in my hands, put it onto my computer and view it six times larger than life.

Now I could see the velvety texture of the petals and the shadings of color. Whenever I have a few minutes, I take the camera for a walk. Who knows what I might find; a blue jay’s feather, red berries on a bush, clover in an open meadow… My eye is drawn to the minute details in the landscape that I used to overlook. Macro photography has opened my eyes to the beauty of tiny things.

(Essay originally posted on Our Echo by Virginia Allain)

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