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A Whipple Spring

Thursday, June 17, 2010


This has been an amazing spring, a spring when I have been brought face to face with people I'd only admired from afar. When I've realized that the Internet connection that started our friendship is a powerful thing and capable of much good. That the feeling you get when you chat with someone via email can be as real as it is good. That came home to me when Murr Brewster traveled all the way from Oregon to stay a few days at Indigo Hill. I knew I'd love Murr and sure enough we were like sisters (without the baggage) from the moment we met. I felt I'd known her forever.

Chet Baker loved Murr, too.
He smiled all the time around her.

and sometimes we all laughed ourselves silly.


When Murr arrived she started futzing around in a huge duffel bag, saying, "I brung you something." My curiosity was piqued. "Oh yeah? Well, just bringing yourself from Oregon is plenty, sweetie."

"It's a whole salmon. Caught it this morning."

And I thought to myself, Oh God what am I going to do with a whole fresh salmon when we're leaving for a festival. With friends like these, who needs enemies? "Smoked?" I squeaked hopefully.

And Murr turned around and handed me a rolled up hank of fabric and I thought, Oh, thank God, it's just a piece of salmon.

And I unrolled it

and tears squirted horizontally out of my eyes

because something like that has to be made with great love
pieced together out of hundreds of tiny bits of fabric and quilted for hours and hours
and capturing the soul of The Bacon so precisely and adorably

and after all we'd never met, but Murr just knew what to do. And it still makes me weep.

Murr's made a number of these quilts, all for friends, mostly of their beloved doggehs, present and past.

Thank you just doesn't begin to do it. I have the quilt hanging in my kitchen where it's the first thing you see when you walk in the door--you can't escape it-- and everybody who walks in goes straight to it with their mouths hanging open and they all kind of sputter for awhile before they're ready to get the story of The Woman Who Can Do Anything She Turns Her Mind To.

So that was a hostess gift with the mostess, and I am still agog. I resolved to try to be as good a hostess as Murr was a guest so I tied my apron on and fed her up good. No salmon, though.

The place was showing rawther well, with trees dressed in filmy greens and blossomy blouses of white. View from towertop.

Liam was exploring the physics of cardboard ramps and flying Matchbox cars.

The meadow was alive with field sparrow song.

Chet Baker was cold, as usual, so we fixed him up in an ET wrap.

Murr got a taste of GardenPod Xanadu. All that's since been emptied out and put into planters and baskets, and it's simply ridiculous how beautiful it all is.

Murr's a gardener of the first rank, so we moved slowly about the yard and greenhouse, exclaiming about this or that little thing we've grown or tried to grow. I found myself wishing I could send her back on the plane with pots full of starts from my garden. Flight attendants frown on such things.

When Nina (of Nature Remains) arrived, we played with a baby mourning dove for awhile
and then I tried to think of the most whiz-bang thing I could do to show these naturalists a good time. The answer was pretty obvious: Newell's Run in late April. Yep, that's it. That's the road that gave me permission to fall in love with southeast Ohio; that's the road with the mostest.

The Bacon, awash in blue-eyed Mary (Collinsonia verticillata)
Blue-eyed Mary is my favorite spring ephemeral wildflower, and Newell's Run is drowning in it. It washes down the hillsides like blue mist. I am sure that my affinity for bicolored blue and white lobelias has everything to do with blue-eyed Mary, trying to recreate that look in my hanging baskets.

It's being dreadfully threatened by nasty garlic mustard. I cussed and pulled, cussed and pulled.
The garlic mustard is the big white stuff towering over little Mary.

Nina shoots Chet wading in blue flowers
He was thinking about squirrelts and chiptymunks.
We were having the most quiet kind of fun, the doodly oh look at this! kind of fun.

Murr looks for salamanders everywhere. She likes salamanders best of all. And she found two: a dusky salamander Desmognathus fuscus

and a northern two-lined salamander Eurycea bislineata.


Woo hoo!

We found the deliciously named cream violet, which pairs nicely with blue-eyed Mary,

Jacob's ladder


and dwarf larkspur. The larkspur had spread and was coming up yards and yards away from the original tiny patch I'd known about for years


Elves in hats.

We found tiny gold-butted beetles partying on a splash of bird doo, which is something I'd have liked even without Murr there

and when we were finally done at Newell's Run we meandered up home to meet Buck the Bull
who was occupied assessing the readiness of Tina for another go.

But he shambled up to the fence to say hello, for he is nothing if not a companionable bull.


Tina, who looks more like a hippo with her frostbitten ears than a cow, said hi too.



When who should arrive but Jeff Warren, Buck and Tina's owner. I was delighted to introduce him to Murr and Nina.

He told us that Buck is now 13. I love Jeff for keeping Buck around. I know he eats a lot of hay, but he's still doing his job, as evidenced by Photo One.

We ended a perfect excursion with a look at seven perfect Carolina chickadee eggs in a box in my driveway. As I speak six of those seven eggs are feathered out and yelling for their afternoon repast.

Spring in Whipple.

19 comments:

I love reading Murr's blog, her skill as a quilter is even more awesome! A treasure and a work of art!
I loved the way she put the TV in, your vultures and the rotten chicken is one of my favorite of your stories.
Always have lobelia in my hanging pots, makes me think of bluets and chionidoxa.

that photo of chet baker in his little blue warmup is priceless

A fabulous blog. Murr, the amazing quilt, and Whipple spring all in one beautiful blog.

Down here,in central Texas, spring is but a memory but the summer wildflowers are in full bloom - horsemint, firewheel, and Mexican hat.

WOW!!! Wow to the post, wow to the quilt, and wow to Chet as ET!

Hmm. Having only recently joined the blog-world myself, it's delightful to imagine someday meeting the blog-friends I'm just starting to make in person. Beautiful post, as always. I love larkspurs; a large patch of larkspurs is like a fairy garden.

Wonderful post, Julie. Spring wildflowers are a joy, made that much better with Chet in their midst.

This entire post is beautiful, but that quilt! What a talent to paint so beautifully with fabric. Murr added so many tiny pieces in the landscape, flowers, birds, deer, it's all you Julie. What a gift. What a friend.

I smile thinking of all of you together...

: )

BEAUTIFUL quilt,flowers,Chet,friends,You!
I'll be with the Friends of Magee Marsh next week. Can't wait cuz!
Dawn Z.

Posted by Anonymous June 18, 2010 at 3:02 PM

And now we all know Murr and are so envious of her getting to explore Indigo Hill and see ET Bacon and the salamanders and the bull... Her quilt is to die for. Does she know about the Quilt Show of the American Quilt Society in Paducah? They'd love her stuff and it's right here in my home town! Every April. Thanks for sharing your new friend, Murr, with us. She's ours now, too. Her blog is delicious. It's these unexpected connections that lead to friendship that make them so much more cherished.

I can't make my tears go horizontal unless I'm lying down, but I'm all choked up, remembering beauty shared, with you the purtiest of all. Thanks to Al Gore and his Internet for bringing us together. I'm looking forward to hauling you out here for a fernfest, and cooking you something nice. Or, you know, having someone cook you something nice. My calendar is all cleared out and scrubbed clean for you, Puddin'. Just traipse on in.

Chet Baker is a dog whose acquaintance I would love to make in person. Unlikely I'll ever get the chance, but the earnest want-to counts. The likeness of him pieced together by Murr is priceless ... much as he and she ... but then, you knew that. Ohio in the springtime is indeed a beautiful place to be.

Julie, what a walk! I have never heard of blue-eyed Mary before. It is delicately beautiful. The quilt Murr made for you is beyond belief! OMG! and how nice to see Nina being Nina! Looks like a perfect day to me. So glad you all had so much fun.

PS I love you. And the coolest part? This is just the BEGINNING of a beautiful friendship.

Julie, what a beautiful post, thanks for sharing. That quilt is amazing, another facet to Murr. And your wildflowers. WOW!! Who'da thunk in Ohio. So beautiful!

~Olivia

I, too, have met Murr - but only through the wonder of the internet. I have to say, I was green with envy when I read about your visit. And then I turned warm with smiles when I saw the quilt. Wow and double-wow.

Oh my.
I have admired Murr's skill with words, stitching them all together into most fantastic wondrous pieces.
And now I learn she has the same skill with the needle.
Oh my.

Newell's Run in Spring should be on some sort of national list

Thank you for your notes and reflections about raising Libby, the Mourning Dove. As I type this (one-handed) my little Mourning Dove rescue is nestled in her favorite spot, my left hand. I have a small rescue farm with all sorts of critters, but this is my first attempt at mothering a wild bird. She has been with us for 14 days, still not interested in seeds, and finally doing more flying than crashing.Your notes gave me much hope for a successful outcome for "flyer" (my husband's name for her... he wants to only give out positives). Again, thank you.

Posted by Anonymous March 14, 2012 at 9:33 AM
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