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ExUrbanis

Urban Leaving to Country Living

The Daylilies are in Bloom Again

July24

(Does anyone remember Katherine Hepburn’s famous line in Stage Door, 1937: “The calla lilies are in bloom again.”)?

When we moved here, there were several daylily plantings that have all thrived and grown. They really need to be divided this fall!

daylilies photo 2016-07-24 daylilies 2 400_zpss6aofcbp.jpg

A sea of colour. Unlike many parts of the country (I’m thinking of you, Ontario) we had lots of rain and cool weather in June so the garden is somewhat lush.

daylilies with bench photo 2016-07-24 daylilies w bench 400_zpsryhlv7rb.jpg

A sunny spot to sit for a minute.

 

Tonight’s the Night!

August11

One of the percs of country living is being able to see the stars. Countless nights, we have arrived home and stood outside our vehicles, head back and jaws open in awe. In the city, such viewing was impossible and limited to annual vacations in the ‘north’, or visits to a friend of a friend’s country place. (That didn’t happen often.)

Tonight is one of the best nights to have a ring-side seat to the stars because, of course, it’s time for the annual Perseids meteor shower, the best of the year – here in North America anyway.

perseids, shooting star

So, just what is a shooting star? My research tells me that comets orbit continuously throughout our solar system. As the earth passes through a comet’s orbit on its way around the sun, some of the debris from the comet falls to earth as meteors. A meteor is a solid chunk of ice or metal that heats up the same way a space shuttle does when it passes through Earth’s upper atmosphere. They attain entry speeds of 12 – 18 miles per second and get hot enough to begin to vaporize. The evaporating gas from the meteor emits light, making the glow we see “shooting” by as the meteor falls toward the earth.

Unfortunately for me, today is the first rainy day in two weeks here and there will likely be too many clouds to see any stars at all tonight. But if you’re some place where you can observe this year’s show, here’s some tips I’ve picked up from country star-gazing.

• Get comfortable. A reclining chair, chaise or blanket on the ground will provide the best view and prevent a sore neck.

• Sitting or standing still outdoors can be a chilling experience, even in the summer. Bring a jacket or sweater and perhaps some blankets. This is especially important if you are accompanied by children who will be stretching out on the grass to watch the meteor shower.

• In many areas, you’ll want to use insect repellent to keep away mosquitoes and other pesky critters.

• Ten to 20 minutes before going outside, turn off all the lights in the house to help your eyes become accustomed to the dark. Of course, all of your outside lights should be off. If you find a lot of light in your neighborhood, you might organize a shooting star party, encouraging everyone to turn all of their inside and outdoor lights off for the evening and join you in watching the sky.

• While you’re waiting for the shooting stars, take a look around at the rest of the night sky. Next to the sun and moon, the planet Venus is the brightest object in the sky in the Northern hemisphere. You’ll see appear it above the western horizon just after sunset and may recognize it as the poetically named “Evening Star.” Or find Polaris, the North Star, around which the whole northern hemisphere sky seems to revolve. star map

Check a star map for what planets, stars and constellations are currently “showing” in your area. The trick to using a star map is to read it while holding it over your head. Suddenly, the ‘north” at the top and the ‘west’ to the right make sense!

• To see the Perseid meteor shower, look high in the northeast sky in the direction of the constellation Perseus and let your eyes relax and wander. The later you stay out, the better your chances are of seeing lots of shooting stars. After midnight, the earth turns into the direction of the meteor shower and you will see more meteors from the leading edge of the earth.

If you can’t get out tonight, when the Perseids shower is at its peak, there should still be some activity in the sky tomorrow night as well – and there’s always next year!

Are you going out to look for shooting stars?

There are Stories to be Told: Start a Family Tradition

July27

One of the most rewarding ways to use your larger outdoor living space in the country is to gather your family members for a reunion. Perhaps it’s a small group that gets together annually, or a large one whose far-flung members attend every two or five or even 10 years.

Whether large or small, a reunion is a wonderful opportunity to knit families closer together through shared stories. In the much-underrated 1990 film Avalon, a Russian immigrant to 1940s America relates the disintegration of his family ties. In his young manhood, his children gathered at the feet of older relatives during family gatherings and listened to tales of their heritage and history. As television took hold of society in the late ’50s, children and adults alike opted for the entertainment of television personalities, instead of the stories of their roots.

And just as the art of listening to stories has gone by the wayside, so has the art of telling them. Here’s how to re-start a tradition of storytelling at your family reunion. Read the rest of this entry »

Come to Tea: An Elegant Garden Gathering

July6

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
(Henry James)

PhotobucketCountry living usually offers outdoor living spaces that can be put to many different uses, including parties.

Perhaps nothing says “garden party” like having afternoon tea outdoors. It’s a charming reminder of bygone days and childhood make-believe. Outdoor spaces of all kinds (including balconies if you’re stuck in the city) can be successfully adapted to a tea party.

Tea parties span generations and will be enjoyed by your most sophisticated women friends or all the giggling little girls of your acquaintance.

What makes an elegant tea party? Read the rest of this entry »

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