I will be traveling soon but wanted to say thank you to all of you before I hit the road. Although the Thanksgiving holiday is, and always has been, one of my favorites, my husband and I, in our new tradition will be on the road — 81 South to be specific — traffic is light. We leave the day before and stop at my mother's in the Syracuse area, affectionately referred to as Bonnie's B&B, to gather together before we all face winter. Because some of our family is now living a meat-free lifestyle, the Thanksgiving turkey has lost its appeal. We will be ordering Thai this gathering to forgo any additional cooking, but Mom has made a Pumpkin Pie! We will celebrate birthdays, including mine (I'm at "halftime" — yikes!). We will count our blessings. One of my many blessings is you, my readers who have been with me maybe only a short time or maybe since my first rooting on Blogger and I thank you.
My husband and I take our time heading South and will not arrive at our winter rental residence until Dec 3. We will stop in Asheville and celebrate "Food Fest." Asheville has many delicious plant-based restaurant offerings and since my husband and I don't eat out regularly (with the exception of an occasional Friday Wood Boat Brewery pizza here in Clayton which I recommend if you are this way), we tend to gorge ourselves in Asheville eating out enough to make up for the entire year!
We are also making a stop in St. Augustine this year. St. Augustine is the oldest city in our great nation and I look forward to it. It seems to boast many art galleries and many ghost tales. I think I will also make a stop to the Fountain of Youth — can't hurt to call a time out before halftime.
At our final destination in Cedar Key, an hour west of Gainesville, I will set up my temporary painting studio and paint, paint, paint! It is a time of year I look very forward to. The only distractions are nice weather, kayaking the surrounding islands, and the tiki bar. I put down my pruners and my shovel and I pick up the brush. I become so inspired but this year have a long list of paintings I wish to complete going in (because it helps to stay disciplined): an attempt at a dragonfly, a loon painting which I've unsuccessfully attempted before, a heron painting, a pelican, the third in the moth series, an ode to the Monarch butterfly, another Clayton Skinner fishing lure, and a couple in a new series I am planning entitled "oh, the places you'll go." In addition, I have a special commission to work on that I look forward to.
I will also be finalizing some sort of business plan perhaps with a workshop or two, some sort of "event," a private exhibition debut, and a yearly traditional holiday offering. Again, I look so forward to this time because I can breathe and my focus becomes much more narrow. It is a relief!
In the past I have taken a break from all gardening, but this year I have secured a spot in the Cedar Key community garden! It will be interesting. I secured the spot because I want to learn about gardening in this different zone. I look forward to fresh herbs and greens in January! I am also bringing a few more plants down than last year, of course. Right now, my Passionflower is iced in snow as we are in the midst of our first snow storm. I feel so bad for her but I want her to know it's time to go dormant. She will be moved to the cellar before we leave where she will overwinter in relative warmth. She is only hardy to zone 6. I know this will work because she is in her second year! It is so sad to see her beautiful blooms covered in snow. She bloomed right up to the end and still has buds.
Just this past Saturday it was 60°F and this Calendula flower opened.
Today, Monday, it is like this outside and I am grateful to be indoors conversing with you.
The garden has been tucked in, in the knick of time. The Potager beds have been cleaned up and mulched with a thick layer of leaves. Now held in place with extra scrap wood — the first batch was wind blown away — and under snow.
I planted over 100 more bulbs: iris, alliums, and daffodils. There are still some weeds and areas in need of attention throughout the garden, but I did a lot of pruning, and cleaned out the greenhouse where I hope to be offering plants for sale come Spring. I am overwintering two pots in the greenhouse this year as an experiment. This is my beloved Pineapple Sage which finally bloomed when I moved it to the front porch because of its size (this is actually cut back). So now I think it didn't receive enough sun on the back steps. It may survive if its roots can seek water through the bottom of the pot. I believe it is hardy to zone 6 and the greenhouse should shelter it. I'm thinking that the lack of water will also prevent the pots from cracking. Only one way to find out — try it.
All in all, I feel pretty good about the progress I've made in the garden. Now, she is really tucked in under a blanket of snow that I have a feeling will be there until the end of March.
I am truly happy this year to be making my escape. I have been counting down the days "creatively" which you can follow on instagram. This snow storm is reminiscent of Januarys past and I can now truly say I do not miss Winter. Admittingly, at times I would become nostalgic for winter: reading a good book by the fire, snuggling in blankets, mac-n-cheese (cashew) baking in the oven, feeding and watching the winter birds ... but in one day I am reminded of the "real" winter. Our sliding door is iced over with a drift of snow and will not open. The birds are absent — seeking shelter from the storm I'm sure. The few I see look so sad braced against the wind, their feathers ruffling. The driveway is all ice and we have to use our front door to get in and out of the house so there is snow tracked all across the carpet. The wind will not stop howling and you can actually feel it as well as hear it, seeping through every tiny crack in the house. Energy is down, hunger is heightened and it's a safe bet another bottle of wine will be polished off this evening. The winter weather here is distracting. It envelops all, smothering all with a heavy layer of apprehension. A depressing weight ever more omnipresent with the gray skies and dark days. I could try to be positive but all I can think is thank god I'm getting out of here and the tiki bar is open! which I guess, in a way, is positive!
This photo is of painted cookie dough ornaments I created for the TI Arts Center tree entry in the Festival of Trees in conjunction with PAPTIR (Plein Air Painters of the Thousand Islands Region) on display at the TI Museum in Clayton. I plan to recreate these in clay/ceramic with the help of the animated Serena Buchanan (THE potter at the Arts Center) to offer in my gallery in the future. I was nostalgic for sugar cookies which I used to make growing up with my mom and sisters. We would paint them with colored egg wash. I haven't made them in years. I am feeling nostalgic for Christmas this year and will bringing some of it with me down to Florida to decorate. If you would like to make your own cookie dough ornaments, I followed this recipe.
I also managed to decorate this sand barrel that will appear on the streets of Clayton before leaving. I am blessed to be a member of two great, small town communities. Although my husband and I aren't physically present in Clayton for the winter, we try to keep one foot here by donating to local organizations or volunteering in some way. The proceeds from this sand barrel will go towards the Clayton Christmas Parade fund. I love that Clayton "decorates the town" with these barrels that are also useful in keeping sidewalks "walkable" during the snowy winter months.
In the spirit of giving thanks and making merry, my prints, greeting cards, pillows, and totes offered online at thevioletfernartstudioandgarden.com are all marked down 25%. Simply use code FVDJRG when checking out.
I wish you safe travels, friendly gatherings, and the spirit of the season. Thank you so much! The next time I connect with you it will hopefully be from sunny Cedar Key.
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Author Kathy Sturr
In this blog I may write about the garden, flowers, plants, and the garden ... mostly the garden, but also new art and inspiration.