Showing posts from July, 2011

2011 California State Fair

The biggest spectacle in the Sacramento area summer calendar is the California State Fair. It’s always at the hottest time of the year, so sweating is as much part of it as the livestock and agricultural exhibits, the bad-for-you food, and the raucous and tacky midway. Golden bear at entrance to Cal Expo We went on Friday because the Cal Expo fairgrounds, home of the California State Fair, opens early at 10am. This allowed us to do the outside exhibits before the sun got too hot. We started with the farm animals—horses, pigs, sheep, cows, etc.—and it’s easy losing track of time as you watch sheep being shorn, llamas paraded around the ring like dogs at a dog show, pigs snoozing in the heat, and similar vignettes of livestock bliss. However, when a miniature horse started to nibble on my younger daughter’s shirt and got a piece of skin in the process, it was time to saunter on. As usual, one of the highpoints for me proved to be the Farm, a living exhibit chock full of farm crop

I wish I were in Cornwall

As we’re hurtling once again towards 100°F (38°C) and my desire to work in the garden is wilting with the climb of the thermometer, I’m beset with a strange longing to go back to Cornwall where surely the likes of 100°F have never been seen. As if I needed another reminded that I’m inextricably mired in middle age, I was taken aback a bit when I realized that our visit to Cornwall was seven years ago. My memories of that trip are very vivid; I remember walking down the country lane shown in the first photo bundled up in a sweater at the end of June. Surely the sun must have been out a time or two, but what has stuck in my mind all this time are the glorious gray skies of the south of England. Here in California, we have blue skies for months on end, and I tell you, they’re not that exciting. Give me clouds and a drizzle any day! (Come December, I will regret saying these words, but that’s how I feel right now.) This post isn’t about specific plants and it doesn’t contain any gardening

Elderberry buckle, anyone?

Earlier in the month, I blogged about the blue elderberry bushes ( Sambucus cerulea ) growing near our house ( click here to read that post ). At that time they were just starting to ripen. Now they are at their peak. These elderberries ripen in waves so the harvest season extends over quite a few weeks. The other day my mother, who is here for a longer visit, came home from her morning walk with a 3-gallon bucket full of berries. She then painstakingly stripped the berries from the stems and we ended up with a big batch of fruit—plump, juicy, and mouthwateringly tart. Bucket full of blue elderberries Close-up, these elderberries look remarkably like blueberries… …although they’re much smaller and taste nothing like blueberries Stripping the berries off the stems is the most tedious part My wife froze most the berries for use later in the year, and from the rest she made a buckle. If you have no clue what a buckle is, don’t feel bad. I didn’t either. A buckle