Monday, August 4, 2008

The Ladybug and the Tiger Slug

Summer is back after a week of rain. The Valley is basking in sunshine and so is the garden yard and so am I. The Bichons and I wander out in the yard at our usual 10am, check the mini pea and bean patch by the shed first. I look for and find the two peas that managed to survive the Mole People so far, hidden beneath bean leaves. My mind notices that there is one pea from each of the two varieties that got planted, from about 100 pea seeds in all, that have survived - one seems to be doing well, one not so well. By now I have become quite philosophical about it all and give a shrug.

The kids suddenly alert that "der be Monstahs inna yahd!" I walk over to the fence where they are, looking towards the big pear tree and see cute little Island Doe Mule Deer and her adorable twin fawns. Richard had mentioned seeing them on several occasions, the most recent of which was over at the barn. What he saw goes to prove how truly clever deer are. He heard sounds coming from the corral, and knowing the cattle were all out in the pasture, went to check to see what was going on. He was surprised to see the twin fawns there. The doe had put them in the pen for safekeeping while she was off looking for food. They were running back and forth, but made no attempt to jump out. He left them alone so as not to frighten them

I wander back to the garden boat to roll up the beach mats and shower curtain. The boat is lush, no other way to describe it: tomatoes everywhere, the remaining pea plants with pea pods filling out, zucchini starting to form, flowers blooming. Honey bees are buzzing everywhere I look. Meandering around, I come to the Fern leaf Dill. There in its heart, as busy as can be, is a bright, orange Ladybug. She is gorgeous against the green foliage and yellow blossom of the dill.

My Garden Boat started out as an experiment. I knew I could get flowers to grow in it - after all it is just a big flower pot - but wasn't sure what, if any, vegetables would thrive. Now I have my answer: tomatoes - check; jalapeno peppers - check; peas - check; yellow zucchini - check; onions - check; beans - check; herbs of all kinds - big check; and of course flowers.

I move around the far side where the corn
has tiny cobs forming silk - 1, 2, 3, 4...scrunchy face! The slugs have been here eating the silk from one of the tiny corn cobs. My eyes go slitty and shift from side to side looking for more slug evidence. There, a Tiger Slug! I quickly pick and flick him over the fence and across the drive.

Time for cappuccino. We wander back inside.

It's afternoon now and I am a baker. Yes, I am still trying to figure out the recipe booklet for the new bread machine. I found a great Brioche recipe on the Internet - the one in the booklet has incorrect measurements - that I changed a bit and mixed up in the machine. I decided to make Cinnamon Raisin Brioche, and when the dough was finished it's first rise in the machine pan, I pressed it out on the counter into a rough rectangle, slathered it in brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins, then rolled it up to form a loaf. Oh the dough is soooooo silky it can't help but be delish! And the aroma of it baking is mouth watering, to say the least. My mind is abuzz with variations on a Brioche theme.

While it bakes, we go back to the garden yard to do more gardening. The watermelon plant I put in 2 months ago has failed to thrive so I brutally yank it out by the roots and toss it over the Disco CD fence - an appeasement to the cute little Island Buck Mule Deer. In it's place I two zucchini plants that have been sitting on the potting table for a while. I'm curious to see how they do.

It's evening now and Richard comes out to help put the garden boat to bed. As we work, I tell him about the corn silk and the Tiger Slug and what I did to the slug when I found it. He gives me a smirk as he walks away, saying "Are you sure that was a good idea? I mean, with the way your luck has been running with critters around here...
now his Tiger Slug buddies will probably come in the night to avenge your attack on him!"

I snort. "Yeah, righ..." I start to say and then I flash on an army of Tiger Slugs and Black Slugs squiggling through the fence to the garden yard, some dragging their deceased slug brother on a litter, while others brandish mini garden implements and still more carry flaming torches to light their way. I give my head a shake. The stuff of nightmares.

Still...I don't think I'll take the dogs out in the yard after dark for a few days.

You just can't be too careful.

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