The corn patch, on a sunny late-May morning, with zucchini in full flower along the edge. This is Jubilee, a hybrid sweet corn, one of our favorites. It's been happily tassling, in flagrant pollination mode, for a couple of days. Lower on the stalks, the soon-to-be ears are pushing out tangled bundles of fine, sticky silks. Pollination occurs when the pollen from the tassles falls or is blown or brushed (I sometimes lend a hand) against the silks. Lo and behold, in the fullness of time, a kernal of corn appears at the end of each silk, on the ear. The tassles produce viable pollen for about ten days, which ought to be (but isn't always) enough time to pollinate the full ear. From then on, it's a race between the maturing corn, the athletic raccoons (able to scale a five-foot fence at a single bound), the malicious corn earworms, and the hungry humans. There's never enough corn to go around.
Never enough time, either. Bill and I have been working on the chicken coop, getting it ready for Chick Arrival Day, next Monday or Tuesday. Not the Taj Mahal, but it's cozy and dry and offers good protection from skunks, coyotes, raccoons, dogs, cats, and snakes. The windows (both front and back) are screened--I learned the hard way that snakes can skinny through chicken wire. There'll be a pen on the right hand side in this photo. You can see the chick door at the bottom, near the front. There's a Mom door on the other side. The coop can be expanded front or back or both, if we want more birds. This first flock is destined for table and freezer, but later, I'll likely add laying hens.
The writing life. What's that? Am I supposed to be writing? The book (The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose--due to my editor at the end of June, due out in July 2012) has taken a back seat to the garden and the chicken coop, but that's the way things go around here sometimes. So far, I have about 40,000 words, so I'm almost half finished and not too far behind schedule. I've been somewhat slowed by getting a new laptop, as a backup to my cranky desktop. A new computer--you know what that's like. Not fun.
There's a lot of good news about the writing biz, though. My editor wants three more Pecan Springs books. I love being able to look ahead to a three-year work plan. It's a great privilege to be able to earn my living doing something I deeply love. Three more years--whoopee!
And while it may be a bit premature to announce it yet, I'll tell you anyway: the audio rights to Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place have gone to Redwood Audio, a perfect home for this book. It will be published and available as a download through Audible.com (and elsewhere) in 2012. And while the book is STILL not available on Kindle (so sorry about that, and thanks for all your queries), you can get it in ebook format for Nook and Google Books. If your book group is reading it, you might want to check out the study questions.
Almost lunchtime already. How did it get to be so late? Hoping to get in some writing time this afternoon--but the tomatoes are coming on and I have enough for a batch of sauce. I'm thinking pasta for supper, with fresh tomato sauce and a dollop of basil pesto.
Reading note. (From Together, Alone, p. 64) I have become acutely aware of all that I consume: household supplies, clothing, furnishings, electricity, gasoline. Where does it come from? Who made it? What's it made of? How long will it last? How can I use it most wisely? And especially, what is its true cost (in fossil fuels, fossil water, environmental impact, as well as dollars). But food remains at the top of the list... As the Inuits say, all our food is souls. We are what we eat. Yes it is so, and literally. It behooves me, then, to know what and whom I am eating, and what kind of life they lived before they became me.--Susan Wittig Albert