No matter how hot it gets here, summertime in Kansas provides lots of eye candy. The main star of the show is the big, gorgeous blueblueblue sky full of clouds so white and wooly, it often looks like a whole flock of sheepies overhead.
This summer has apparently broken some very old records as being the coolest and wettest in over a half-century. Yes, that's right, Kansas stole Seattle's weather and left the unbearable Midwest heat for our Northwestern neighbors to enjoy. This means that we have had some of the most beautifully perfect days that I can remember in the 15 years I've lived here now.
This is one of the small wheatfields I drive by on my way to work each day. They still farm wheat, soybeans and corn on the many parcels of undeveloped land around here. Sadly, it will eventually be destroyed to squeeze in yet another shopping center. The good thing about the bad economy is that it is slowing down the warp-speed rate of development that has been happening in our county.
The next four pictures are from a teensy roadtrip I took a couple of weeks ago to Lawrence, home of the Kansas Jayhawks who won the 2008 NCAA championship. It's a great little college town and the 20 minute drive from my house is through gently rolling farmland. One of my favorite ways to relax is to take a long drive by myself and this is one of my favorites.
I love cloud shadows!
I had two reasons to head to Lawrence - yarn and eagles. There is a fabulous yarn store in Lawrence that I had never visited before called The Yarn Barn. It's right in the middle of the charming downtown and was all that I hoped it would be. There is a very nice selection of various yarns and the best array of knitting supplies I have found so far. However, the thing that makes this store so special is the unbelievable variety of big cones of laceweights and silk yarns. I am not sure why anyone would need such large amounts, but if they do, this is the place to get it. They also have large quantities of wool battings from all types of sheep and lots of undyed roving. They also have a large display unit with both sides covered with all types of undyed yarns. I am not sure if my next hobby will be dying, spinning or weaving, but whatever it is, this will be where I come to buy my crack, er, I mean supplies. I found a few souvenirs to take home, so the drive was worth it.
When is sock yarn not for socks? When it's for pretty scarves and mitts!
I also had another reason to go to Lawrence and it was to find a particular spot on the Kansas River, which is right across from downtown:
Even though I have seen a mated pair of American eagles on their nest down at the Lake of the Ozarks (an unbelievably close view, too), it was before I started keeping a life list of birds. So to me, it won't count until I see another one. plus, I'd love to see one or more feeding. This little waterfall is a prime eagle, hawk and sometimes osprey fishing site in the winter. This is because the moving water keeps ice from forming so the birds can fish even in subzero weather. I have heard of as many 17 eagles fishing at a time! I am planning to come here in the winter to see some eagles and wanted to scout the area out first. I only hope the eagles don't elude me the way the pileated woodpeckers have.
I also love my garden in the summertime. The Annabelle and Limelight hydrangeas grow obscenely large, and so far this year I have harvested over 3 dozen large heads of Annabelle (shown here) to sell to a local floral designer as well as several bunches to give to neighbors. The Limelights aren't mature enough to harvest yet, but I should get almost 2 dozen heads from the one bush I have. I don't do anything special for them, not even fertilizer, but they obviously love the location on the front of my house (northern exposure).
This pretty little yellow flower is very special to me. It is a banana magnolia, which is an old-fashioned semi-tropical shrub that grows in New Orleans. The blooms are small and mostly unnoticed except for the heavenly smell that is like banana creme brulee. I brought one up here about 5 years ago and have babied it more than my other potted plants (who must abide by Darwinian rule in my household). It has finally rewarded me with 2 blooms! They only last for a couple of days, so I ran out to the porch several times for those days just to take a long whiff.
These are some shagbark hickories that grow not far from where I live. These are some of my favorite trees. I want to spread a blanket under them and knit all afternoon except there's a walking trail right there and I wouldn't want my yarn to get trampled.
And of course, the girls can't get enough of summertime in Kansas either!