These 'Blue River II' hibiscus were the subject of my first blog post in June 2006. They weren't blooming when I left, but two weeks later are in full sail, cheering me on to weed, prune, clip and mow our damp, buggy, mildewy jungle, making it look like a garden again.
My plan for Illinois was to stay with my mom at her house as she recuperated from surgery, and to try to persuade her to sleep better and eat more. I wasn't very successful with that last part, but in between household reorganization, a little yard work, adventures with plumbing, and electrical outages, it was great to have the time to look at photos, sing a little, talk a lot, and watch movies, including the newer version of The Parent Trap and Helen Mirren as The Queen. It was also great to see all my brothers and sisters, Philo's sister, and their extended families, along with our dear daughter & son and their wonderful spouses.
Most of you are younger than I am - maybe staying at your parents' house is something you've done routinely? I've returned as a visitor on hundreds and hundreds of occasions during the 40 years since I left the family home, but usually stayed overnight elsewhere. It felt very odd to sleep once again in the house in which I grew up, where some things are unrecognizable, and other things haven't changed since I was a young school girl.
Back then I first encountered what we called 'the locusts'. Here's a souvenir photo of one of them- actually one of the brood of 17- year, periodic cicadas that are humming again all over the Chicago area. I was glad that my visit to Illinois coincided with their June appearance. My mom's trees were full of cicadas, and we enjoyed sitting on her patio in the afternoon when the little buzz saws were at peak volume.
Some people hate them. One of the health care visitors shocked me by stating that everyone should exterminate the insects now so there'd be none in 2024. But my mom and my sisters and I enjoy them as a fascinating natural phenomenon, and my sister's dog considered them to be a delicious treat! The cicadas provided a 'white noise', muffling the sounds from nearby highways and the racket produced by several neighbors engaged in remodeling projects - their background sound almost seemed like ocean waves.
So many cicadas emerged from the roots of Mom's bur oak that the shells looked like mulch on the ground:
These cicada photos were taken by my daughter. She & her husband and our IL son & daughter-in-law took Mom and me one afternoon on an outing - to a restaurant with great pizza, some history and perhaps a few ghosts. The building had an old-fashioned interior, and a very comfortable atmosphere. Supposedly Al Capone owned the century-old building at one time. There are tales of paranormal events in the bed and breakfast upstairs: radios turn on by themselves and alphabet blocks spell out words. I don't know whether the ghosts are real, but if you prefer thin, crisp crust for your pizza, with quite remarkable sauce, homemade Italian sausage and good beer, it's worth the drive out to Willow Springs.
Last year this restaurant featured bocce ball, but the area has been converted to a cornhole bag court. You may all know about it, but this beanbag-type game phenomenon, with sewn cloth bags of corn thrown toward an opening on a slanted wooden board was new to me.
Everyone in Illinois seems to play it now - a brother-in-law compares it to a more democratic version of horseshoes. Back in the nineteen-fifties the women kept the kids out of the way while the men tossed the heavy iron shoes, aiming at a metal stake but frequently taking out nearby trees, shrubs and ankles.
Tossing bags is safer, but still requires skill. It needs less space, and both males and females of every age can play, so when the boards were set up at a family gathering, the entire group of kids and adults had fun together.
While I was listening to cicadas, cooking, and talking nonstop, Philo was here in Austin, engaged in a furniture project he'd been planning for a long time. Shortly before I left he finished this sunny Adirondack chair:After I left, Philo designed and built a settee version for another part of the garden. On my return, we pulled into the drive and he hit the garage door opener, revealing a classic garden loveseat built for two.
You've all been writing like mad - it will take quite awhile to catch up with my real garden and your many posts. But right now I have to get the flashlight and go outside. According to some calenders, including Entangled's, Midsummer's Day falls on June 24, the Feast of St. John the Baptist. So tonight is Midsummer's Night Eve, and there might be fairies in the garden.
*** Added Monday, June 25th - Carol's comment sent me back out with the camera to see if the hibiscus really were as big as a dinner plate. The plate measures 11-inches across - guess the flower is about 10 inches. And not a single fairy/faerie showed up, just mosquitos. ***