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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Petra's Perch and Other Projects

Summer is in full glory up here at Cascade Bluff. Brilliant blue skies and lush aspens greet us every morning, it seems, except of course when it rains.... but not this morning! 


As you saw on the last post, summer is also time for us to have visitors to The Bluff. Sometimes our friends stay in the cabin in our guest loft, sometimes folks bring their own tents or camper... and this time we managed a little different sleeping arrangement. Our friends Beth and Louisa wanted to visit with their wonderfully gentle ... and huge... dog, Petra aka "Petie" who is a Leonberger. Dr. Google and other useful sources will tell you that the leonberger is a "giant" dog breed... and they are right! Petie is really sweet but she's getting on in years and she is massive. And there is the problem of those three spoiled rotten felines, you've met them before but here we go again: 

Rosie

Walt

 ...and Walt Boss Cat on his walk in the labyrinth...
 and sweet lazy "Rub My Belly" Magpie. 
our three aristocats are not in the habit of dealing with dogs, and we anticipated much hissing, growling and general carrying on with the arrival of our friends, until they kindly and generously suggested, how about the garage? 

 Hmmm, how ABOUT the garage? Don't we have a screen tent around here somewhere? Why yes, we do... and voila, "Garage Mahal" appears! 

... complete with comfortable sleeping cots, sleeping bags, pillows and blankets... even carpeting! Fans, flashlights, water, the best outhouse in the north woods... Garage Mahal has it all! 
Beth and Louisa made it through a few nights without much problem, and Petie slept on the floor just fine! 

 Rosie, Walt and Magpie all felt much more secure indoors with Petie outside - and the weather totally cooperated, thank goodness. There were a few big tails and a small amount of hissing, but everybody calmed down and no doggie or kitty Valium was required. 

Any friends that appear even remotely willing to get dirty, sweat and wield sharp implements are routinely "invited" ie "pressed into service" for helping us out with projects... Here is Louisa down on the bottom of the bluff, checking out the spot for yet another new overlook with a river view... this one will be way up there on the top of the ridge! You can't see them, but Val and Beth are up there waving a huge flag that looks so small from down here that it is invisible! But we found it, with the help of binocs and lots of shouting...
 Up on the Ridge top, this is the view from our current lovely overlook, named "Aquila Avenue" for the eagles that we've seen flying by from this spot. If you've been here you know that this one comes complete with a short stairway and a "safety fence" in case anyone decides to lean off the edge.... lookout below, its a long ways down...

Here is the happy crew who willingly carved out the next ridge top lookout site, just a hundred feet or so up the path but my oh my, what a difference! 
 Some hours of work later, and a bit of scrambling, clipping, chainsaw work, sawing, and some fun times with the mini-chainsaw we call the Jaws of Death, and Petie-Petra is resting and surveying her new perch! 
 Look at that view of the river! Nice! And yes, that is a big mature white pine on the edge of the photo on the left, growing right at the edge of the cliff. 
 Petra's Perch! 
This is the new sign... still in progress... will take more pix when complete and in place! 

 Hard work requires some good grub...
 Mm, mm! Ribs and roasted green beans, yumm! 
The next morning brought a more contemplative view of the forest and the labyrinth...
 ...and a final visit by Beth and Petie! Now you get a sense of just how big that big rock actually is, not to mention that DOG! (But she is really sweet!) 

Of course, it is never just all hard work and new projects at Cascade Bluff. A morning walk the other day revealed that it's time for the coral root to bloom, a native deep shade wildflower that we don't find every year... nice to see you!
...and in our garden, the "Strawberry Seduction" Yarrow is really popping right now...
Here's the much shyer and less showy native variety of yarrow...
 Our milkweed is blooming, alas no monarch butterflies so far this year...
 ...and right beside the milkweed is our butterfly weed... come on, Monarchs, the feast awaits you! 

 Our cultivated blueberries are chock-full of berries, slowly ripening... now the race begins between us and the chipmunks, and guess who usually wins... not us!
 An unusual and welcome second blooming of our pasqueflower patch...
 ...and the "100 assorted day lilies" are beginning to show their colors....
 The big rock bed is in full bloom...
...and the bumblebees really love that catmint! 


Speaking of bees, new for us this year is bee balm...

Quite a nice deep color, and the bumbles love it too.
 A patch of Depford pinks by the main garden... 

 ...and the final variety of sedums to bloom are showing their colors at last...
...while the others just keep at it...
 The bush beans are getting bigger and bigger all the time... 

...as is the second (or is it the third?) seeding of lettuce! Mmm! 
 We can't complain too much about the heat, since we barely topped 90 degrees on just a few days, and the rest of the region was sweltering for over a week.. but we'll complain anyway, on behalf of our lettuce...
I had to put a shade topper on the bed of lettuce and found this old reflective windshield screen...
 It worked great - felt at least 5 degrees cooler under the screen and the lettuce perked right up after looking very wilty.
 Beans getting taller and some blossoms are starting... yes! Green beans fresh from the garden is THE BEST!! 

And a few days of heat started things rolling for the blueberries too...

The race is on! Scram, chipmunks, those are MINE! 

See you next month... and grateful thanks to Beth, Louisa and Petie for all their help!  

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