Thursday, August 22, 2019

Summertime in the sunshine by Juliana Aragon Fatula

Dear Reader,

I love summertime. I spend most of my days outside gardening and gathering seeds and collecting bouquets to hang and dry for potpourri. My home has two shares of irrigation water from Lake DeWeese in Westcliffe. We water with a pump and sprinkler system that my husband installed when we bought our home twenty years ago. When we first moved here to Southern Colorado from Denver we began planting fruit trees and perennials and now two decades later we have a garden that is admired and loved. Our summer parties in the backyard are notorious for food, fun, music, and laughter. No one leaves our home hungry or thirsty.

My love of gardening came naturally. My father and mother were both gardeners and grew everything under the sun from corn and chile to geraniums and iris. My childhood home had pears, apples, cherries, plums, peaches, grapes, corn, chile, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and plants I had no idea what they were but my parents knew and used the wild indigenous plants as food and medicine. 

Today, I continue the tradition of growing our own food, harvesting, preserving, and sharing with our friends and family. I've added many new species to my garden because my husband built me a greenhouse and sun room so I can garden year round. I have strawberries, raspberries, chives, and exotic tropical plants. 

The bees love my garden and since my husband feeds the birds and build them bird condos, we have an abundance of bird song every day. I check my plants for pests and discover the good bugs eating the bad bugs: the ladybugs, spiders, praying mantis, lizards, snakes, toads, all have a place in my garden. It's organic and thrives on the water that comes from the snow melt of the Sangre de Cristos in the high country.

This oasis provides a natural surrounding of trees, shade, sun, and lush green grasses, roses, lilacs, climbing vines, and indigenous plants that I'm learning to identify and research for their medicinal purposes. 

My aloe vera provides gel for my hair and skin. My yarrow has healing properties that I'm discovering and harvesting. I love learning about the ways nature provides healing and nutrition for us. Everything we need is on this planet. Including poison in toxic plants. I've learned about plants that I love that are toxic to pets. I discovered that foxglove is used to make digitalis for medicine and can be toxic to the skin. I'm still learning and growing my botanical knowledge. 

I use this knowledge in my writing. I use the life around me to inspire me to write about nature. I feel blessed to have a home that is surrounded by beauty, fragrance, birdsong, and life. 

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