Summer is being rough on me this year. The heatwave that began in May shows no sign of letting go anytime soon. Everything is bone dry and the air is full of dust. The heat is not doing my fibromyalgia any favours. But one thing can be said for this very atypical hot Danish summer: It’s beautiful. I’ve spent more time in my garden this summer than in the twenty years previous at the old house.
I planted wildflower seeds in a big pot on the terrace in order to feed my never-ending love for cornflowers. The outcome is a little weird. There’s all sorts of other flowers in there too, but it’s the pink cornflower that baffles me. I had no idea cornflowers could be pink. Cornflowers range from white over pale blue to dark cobalt blue. Maybe this one’s just colour blind.
We live close to the river so there is a lot of wetlands wildlife in the area. We see toads all the time, and salamanders are fairly common too. But the ones we usually see are smooth newts, by far the most common in Denmark; this big fella is northern crested newt which is a rare and protected species here.
No one who knows my husband will be surprised to hear that we now have salamander-friendly patches and watering holes under the rhododendrons. I’m hoping to meet adders out there too. The neighbour claims to see adders in his garden all the time. I love them.
I can spend hours just looking at the wildflowers. I have no idea what those pink ones between the morning glories and cornflowers are, but they are absolutely gorgeous. The husband built bee hotels in the yard and now that everything is so dry and dead, the wild bees are here in droves to check out those wildflowers.
It’s so dry here now that when we go to the barn and water the horses in the pasture, wasps turn up in droves to drink. Look at the soil; there’s no moisture in the earth anywhere. We’ve had the hottest May on record ever, June and July have not let us off the hook. It’s pretty, but I will admit, it’s taking its toll on people and animals alike.
There’s only one family member who absolutely loves the dry dusty heat. It’s great for certain purposes!
The Old Stablehand has seen it all and carried them all. He’s sick and tired of lugging your brats around but he’ll keep doing it. Most of all he wants to snooze in a corner of the pasture or in his box. Stay on his good side with regular bribes and health checkups.
I’ve met a lot of Old Stablehands at barns and riding schools. They’re the stable old horses who know better than the instructor and certainly better than the kids they’re lugging around. They don’t know why this job needs to be done but they keep plodding as long as you take good care of them.
If Old Stablehands are treated poorly they turn aggressive or unreliable. They work hard and deserve regular vet and farrier care. And extra carrots.
No time of year is more beautiful than May. No joy is greater than the first May in a new house, watching the flowerbeds and wondering what’s going to turn out to be in them. So far I am not disappointed. It’s picture day!
No flower is closer to my heart than the humble dandelion. Together with the tiny white daisies they sum up everything I love about May. The sunshine, the freshness, the cool nights and hot days, the beginning of a new year. The earth awakens, explosively.
Those chilly May nights that soon enough become warm. They tend to be starry and clear blue, and my camera is not at all sophisticated enough to properly capture those colours.
And speaking of colours. Turns out we have a large rhododendron patch and not two shrubs are the same colour. Every shade from bright white over hot pink to blood red is represented. My favourites are the small purples and the large crimsons.
They’re there, the small purples.
Out in front we have poppies. Gazillion of poppies. They’re large and bright red and contrast gorgeously with the bright blue scillas.
And of course there’s a corner for self-planted more or less wild flowers as well.
But the strangest flower of them all is the hairy lawnflower.
The husband bonds with animals on a level I can never match. No fuss, no big deal, they just fall in love with him as easily as he falls in love with them. And sometimes, I swear, they’re talking about me.
We’ve had two weeks of blazing summer-before-summer; in fact, one of the hottest May months in a century. After the meteorological disaster that was 2017 I can’t say I am complaining. I don’t do well with heat, but it’s pretty to look at, and no one yells at me for sitting in the shade.
The heat means I have to braid Emilie’s mane or she’ll sweat buckets. She wasn’t too fond of this notion last year, but something must have clicked: Now she stands perfectly still and seems to even enjoy the treatment. Of course she also picks half the braids out in an hour once released into the pasture. Oh well.
I love how expressive Emilie is. She talks. All the time. Some of it is vocalized, little grunts and snorts (in a surprisingly deep tone). Most is her eyes and ears, though. I always pull her forelock aside so I can watch her eyes when we’re together. Her eyes are so remarkably talkative, and so are those big draft horse ears.
The Boss takes charge. The Boss wants to work, but you got to ask nicely and you better not forget to praise and reward. The Boss knows that there is a job that needs doin’, so you better roll up those sleeves, put that hard hat on, and get to doin’ it, mate.
Each horse I have owned has had its own unique personality. Some have been pleasers; one was aggressive, and my current Jutland draft is very much the boss of me.
I don’t mean that in a bad way. Emilie is better at being a horse than I am. She’s cool with changes and loves exploring new things. Whenever I curl up in anxiety or pain, she’s the one telling me to breathe and chill. I may point the direction we’re going, but Emilie is very much the one who gets us there. Together.