i confess: i was not at my best Wednesday morning "stuff" was getting the best of me. Gratefully, i'd made plans to take a little field trip with a friend and worked hard as we drove together to let go of the dratted gnat-like bothers still buzzing in my head.
Our goal: to visit and ramble through a sunflower maze the largest of its kind on the east coast and just a few miles from our town.
What an absolute surprisingly delightful experience this little morning outing turned into!
i've driven past very happy sunflower fields previous summers and have various types in my garden ever year but i've never before kept such intimate company with literally thousands of them
i could not stop smiling
and admiring the various other visitors that were out with us that day
a pollen drenched soldier beetle
The farmer has sown millions of seeds in succession so that there will be glorious heads to visit for several more weeks and now we can examine them in all their stages from bud to heavy heads laden with ripening seeds
John Parke (who is a project director with Audubon) and his son Aidan
i have nothing to brag about. Not when compared to the feat two friends achieved. The most i can say is that between Friday morning and Sunday evening, i drove more than 900 miles gazed at some marvelous countryside, skies, and mountains. And for about 3 hours Saturday morning i sat, waiting on top of a mountain ringing a cowbell with a few hundred others cheering and marveling at 600 of our fellow beings.
Here's how it went: Friday morning, 9AM My sister and i hurridly packed the car bought breakfast at our favorite little market on the way out of town came to a sudden halt when we saw this a few miles north of home.
We then proceeded to drive 440+ miles north to Bethel, Maine where we met up with two friends who are without question the craziest two people we know. They love to race not simply ride their bicycles up mountains.
Saturday morning, 5AM. Woke, dressed, wolfed down oats with fresh, wild blueberries met up with some more friends/cheerleaders then drove an hour to the base of Mt. Washington. Then, our pack of cheerleaders wished the crazies well and did the sensible thing. We drove to the 6,288 summit where we waited for them along with the hundreds of other family and friends of other insane individuals.
In the world of cycling The Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb is known as the toughest hillclimb in the world. Seriously. Nothing on the Tour de France tests riders the way this mountain does. 7.6 miles in length, it has an average grade of 12% with extended sections of 18% and, then the final 50 yards is an astonishing 22% grade! It is difficult for most humans to walk up that last stretch.
If you read those chalk messages you'll note that there are lots of moms and dads who conquor this mountain on two wheels. Everyone that crosses the finish line gets a much deserved medal and phenomenal sense of physical, mental, and spiritual accomplishment.
They call it the "Climb to the Clouds"
And the weather can change within minutes
There are no guard rails. A long section of the road is unpaved--because erosion makes tarmac implausible. There are spots where 2 autos cannot pass each other.
And the mountain is infamous for its weather the observatory at the summit embraces the motto: "Home of the World's Worst Weather". In point of fact, in the spring of 1934, observers clocked a wind gust of 231 mph, which remains a world record for a land based weather station.
Some years, the riders start out in sunshine and 65 degrees ride up through the fog and clouds and into sleet to reach the summit where it is 30 degrees colder. Two years ago the riders nearly fried in the sun. And, yes...winds often blow riders off their bikes.
This year the weather was perfect. Sun and clouds temperatures in the 70s and a gentle, cooling breeze.
Both Lili and Carol, veterans of this race beat their old records Carol cut a whopping 6 minutes off her time coming in just under 2 hours.
Being veterans Lili (left) and Carol are pals with the organizers and many of the volunteers who joined us in singing "Happy Birthday" to Lili as she approached and crossed the finish line on her 50th birthday!!
the ones in front that look a lot like "scrambled eggs" has been growing here for decades, if not longer. It's easy to see why people call it that. But it's true given name...well, at least its current official name is Van Sion and is named, according to a history shared by my friend Scott at Old House Gardens, for "Vincent Sion, a Fleming, living in London, [who] cherished it in his garden for many years before it flowered in the year 1620."
This is an heirloom if there ever was one.
And, of course, there's all sorts of discussion for this daffodil has a mind of its own.* Some years in this garden it is all gold, as in the photo other years, it sports streaks of bright green. Live a few years with a flower like this beauty and you will come to believe that plants do have personalities. And they have moods.
i love that this curious individual persists and thrives all on its own. seemingly forever.
The other daff with its glorious glowing trumpet? He is one of a very handsome crowd from a bagged mix of unnamed bulbs i couldn't resist at the hardware store.
*From Old House Gardens: "All ‘Van Sion’ bulbs sold in the US today are grown on a small island off the north coast of the Netherlands. There the climate is perfect for ripening bulbs which will bloom with all of the doubling neatly contained within the trumpet...No matter where you garden, that’s what you can expect to see the first year after you plant them, and that’s what most books and catalogs show you. But every spring after that, most of these bulbs will produce quite different blooms – shaggy powderpuffs with no sign of a trumpet, as you see in our photos here. And in some years or some gardens, these blooms will be heavily marked with green or they’ll open gnarled and imperfect. Though they’re weirdly charming, these mop-headed blooms are rarely pictured in books or catalogs.
‘Van Sion’ isn’t the only double daffodil to bloom in two different forms. Here’s another from Paradisi in Sole Paradisus, John Parkinson’s landmark florilegium of 1629."
Between me and the neighbor's barn where a small forsythia grows is a Russian olive that is just beginning to leaf out. A soft rain falls for most of the day. The telephoto feature + high iso = a chunky image that prompted me to mess about with pixels