07.24.2019

Good morning. This is how the sky looked just after I woke up this morning. After the long pause that is the weeks around the solstice, I can feel the light shifting toward autumn, just a little. Which feels a bit off, because July has been uncharacteristically cool and cloudy, so part of me is still waiting for summer to fully arrive. But then we have a couple of days like this last weekend, when it was 80 degrees and sunny and my bones soaked in the heat and it felt so good to get rid of the jeans in favor of a lighter layer. And I remember how there’s an ease and a sweetness that comes with the slightly shorter days, how the heat of the day gives way to a summer night. In early summer, I’m asleep before sunset but a summer night is something to savor… a reminder to savor it all, really.

I spent a good portion of this past weekend playing with natural dyeing for the first time. Equal parts thrilling and humbling, as I suppose any new craft should be. I experimented with two dye plants I could collect from our property – Oregon grape and rhubarb. The Oregon grape was my first experiment – the left half in the photo above. After producing a satisfying shade of yellow on my four mini-skeins, I tried a few modifiers to see what other shades I could create, and managed instead to turn three of them back to a muddy version of the natural I started with. Call it a good lesson in the effects of acidity.

Rhubarb root was my second attempt, on the right above. I got more of a beige than the orange I was hoping for from my initial dye, I’m guessing because the temp got too high. But a range of alkaline modifiers gave me orange and pink undertones to the beige, which felt like glorious triumph after the Oregon grape.

In other homestead news, the chickens are charming and full of entertainment and surprisingly difficult to photograph. Our most recent delight has been feeding them wild berries from the brambles around the edge of the yard. Potential egg-laying is still a few months off, but I have caught myself imagining the joy of our own eggs while I cook my breakfast in the morning, so it feels a tiny bit more real.

PS – For those of you who suffered the glitch of the last post publishing many, many times – I’m sorry! Fingers crossed that it’s sorted now.

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