This period is one of my favorite time of the year when it’s not too cold and not too hot either. Plus the flowers are blooming. Smelling flowers are much more enjoyable than shoveling snow, you know.
I would like to share some photos of what are blooming now in our garden, that have not been eaten yet by the deer or the wild rabbits.
Purple allium and white alliums:
By the way, Allium is the Latin word for garlic. As you can surmise these plants belongs to the family of onions, garlic and shallots. Since these blooms are in the family of onions, they have the trademark smell.
Peony is named after Paeon, the Greek god of medicine and healing. I don’t know if these flowers have curative properties. But one thing for sure, they are fragrant and maybe that’s healing enough.
These large flowers last about two weeks only, so might as well take the opportunity to gather them and display them inside as well.
Below are flowers not from our garden but from a grocery store. I included them here since I like my photo of it.
Despite allergies and all, there’s one unwritten rule in our household: No fake flowers allowed.
The last photo is the harvested peonies. And a selfie of course.
(*Credit to my wife, the master horticulturist; all photos taken with an iPhone)
When we talk about Italy’s countryside what comes to mind are the picturesque rolling hills and bountiful vineyards of Tuscany.
And there’s no better way to tour this scenic place than the iconic Italian way – riding the Vespa or the Fiat. Well, you could do it too with a Ferrari convertible but that would cost you an arm and a leg.
During our visit to Italy we did the Tuscany Vespa Tour. (This is not a sponsored article though I would gladly accept even a free pizza if they offer.) Some of us rode the Vespa scooter while some of us rode the classic small Fiat car. I did the Vespa.
We picked up the Vespa and the Fiat from the tour’s office parking lot. After a brief tutorial, as I have not ridden a motorcycle since more than 25 years ago, I became more comfortable of riding it. I was at least confident that I would still be alive after the tour.
Then off we go!
Our first stop was at a local vineyard.
After parking our motorcycles and cars, we toured the place which includes wine tasting. I am not really into wine, but they had prepared free pasta lunch too, so I was more than happy. Plus I don’t think indulging in wine and riding a motorcycle afterwards was a good idea.
I even saw a black cat at the winery. Was it a bad omen? Should we not continue on our trip? Nah!
After the vineyard tour, we were back on the road again.
Our next stop was a quaint town. We parked our vehicles and walked around the small town. Here we tasted free samples of truffle spreads, different kinds of cheese, and balsalmic vinegar offered in the local stores. Their balsalmic vinegar tastes good that it rivals the sukang Iloco (being a half-bred Ilocano, I’m still biased for the sukang Iloco).
After hitting the road again, our last stop was an old fortress. Its medieval courtyard was transformed into shops and eateries. There were no sword-wielding knights nor jousting tournament though. The closest we had to a battle were tourists jostling to buy the ever popular Italian gelato. Of course we had some too.
Overall, it was a really fun ride. You may think that this small scooter is under power, but it is not. Yes it is not as muscular as the Harley-Davidson, but this Vespa Sprint model with its 125 cc cylinder can still fly through the Tuscan hills.
It was a swell experience to fly the Tuscan roads with the sunlight on my eyes, wind on my hair (even though I don’t have much) and bugs in my face. Wait…..what?
Actually “flying” has a double meaning here, as this includes the flying insects that may hit your face as you zoom through the hills. I must be in a state of exhilaration with my mouth wide open that one insect hit my teeth. Good thing I was able to spit it out.
Italian bug tasting? Not included in this tour.
From the roads of Tuscany,
(*All photos taken with an iPhone. Thanks to my unofficial photographers who took some of the pictures. A shout out to JDC Private Tours, who made our tour of Italy such a pleasant experience.)
I was going out for my morning run a few days ago and as I got out of the front door I noticed that our walkway was covered with flower petals.
Beautiful morning. Flower-strewn pathway. What else could I ask for?
Maybe our crabapple tree was treating me as royalty, shedding and laying its flowers on my path.
I remember an old movie “Coming to America,” where the character played by James Earl Jones, the king of Zamunda, a fictional wealthy African nation, visited the United States, New York City, to be exact. He was looking for his son, played by Eddie Murphy, who is the crown prince of that said nation. In one scene, as the king steps out of his limousine, royal attendants strew flowers on the ground where he would walk on. I know, I am no royalty.
Come to think of it that is what flower girls in a wedding do too. These cute little girls would scatter flowers in the path where the bride would walk on. But I am no bride either.
By the way the tradition of flower girls scattering flower petals has its origin from the Greek and the Romans. The young girls walking before the bride in ancient practice, scatter herbs and grains to wish the bride fertility. But nowadays it is replaced by tossing flower petals as a wish for happiness for the bride. And maybe fertility too.
Our journey in this life though is not always filled with happiness or a flower-strewn pathway, so to speak. Or perhaps it is, as our path could be littered with roses but including its thorns. Maybe the flower vase is thrown in the path as well with its broken pieces of glass!
A poem by Annie Johnson Flint said this, “God hath not promise skies always blue, flower-strewn pathway all our lives through.”
The author of the poem, Annie, was only 3 years old when her mother died while giving birth to her baby sister. Her father who also had an incurable disease decided to give Annie for adoption as he couldn’t take care of her, and he died not long after that. Annie was sent to school by her adoptive parents and was able to finish her education and became a teacher. However she developed painful and debilitating arthritis at a young age which extremely limited her mobility. She was resigned to a wheelchair most of her life.
Yet she still penned this poem:
WHAT GOD HATH PROMISED
God hath not promised skies always blue, Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through; God hath not promised sun without rain, Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God hath not promised we shall not know Toil and temptation, trouble and woe; He hath not told us we shall not bear many a burden, many a care.
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide, Swift, easy travel, needing no guide; Never a mountain rocky and steep, Never a river turbid and deep
But God hath promised strength for the day, Rest for the labor, light for the way, Grace for the trials, help from above, Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
What a great reminder for us indeed.
As for my morning run that day, it did start with a flower-strewn pathway though it got a little thorny especially on the last mile. But I did fine.
I am thankful for the promised strength for the day. And I don’t mean just for running.
Iowa is one of the top five states in the US with the highest deer collision rate. According to one estimate from an insurance company, 1 in 73 drivers in Iowa have reported hitting a deer from July 2017 to June 2018. Oh deer!
Autumn has the highest risk of collisions with deer because that’s when the herd is mostly on the move, though it can happen any time of the year. And dawn and dusk are the most dangerous time of the day as deer are more active during these times.
One day last week, it was dusk and we were on our way home. In one lonely stretch of a country road I spotted a herd of deer standing at the side of the road. I believe they were planning on crossing the road. But it seems they were waiting for our car to be just close enough, and then they would dart off across the road when I have no time to hit the brakes. They can be that crazy, you know. They are also notorious to stop at the middle of the road with their proverbial “deer in the headlights” look.
However, I outsmarted them. I slowed down as I approached where they were standing and even came to a full stop just in case they still would jump right in front of our car. Since there was no other car on the road except us, it was safe for me to stop (even gave a chance for my wife to take photos).
I think I disppointed them, so they turned around instead of pouncing at my poor car.
Scat you rascals! I will not be one of the insurance’s statistics.