wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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The Root Cellar

No, this is not a hobbit’s house. About 50 years ago this small excavation in the side of a hill was used as a root cellar.dscn6798

Before the days of refrigeration, potatoes and other root crops like carrots, squashes, beets, and turnips could be stored in this underground bunker. The earth was shored up with wooden beams and possibly shelving could be put in, and then this place could function as a natural cooler for vegetables. A door  kept  larger animals out, and a pipe in the top provided an air vent so the vegetables (and the odd mouse) could breathe.dscn6799People of that era would probably have to make a trek to the root cellar before preparing the evening meal. Let’s hope they were braver than I am about encountering spiders.


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Poppies

For years, I mistakenly thought that this is the kind of poppy that you get opium from. But I was wrong.

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The kinds and varieties of poppies are numerous.

I’ve been growing poppies for years, but only because they’re such pretty flowers. Seems I could have kept myself painfree for years now, if I had harvested the sticky latex-like goo that runs out of the seed pods if you score them. I have no interest in going to a lot of trouble to make a tiny smidgeon of opium. I have Advil in my medicine cabinet and that will do for small aches and pains.

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What surprised me is that opium (and then, morphine) is made from many different kinds of poppies. This delicate flower hardly looks capable of producing opium. Such an innocent!019

I have a feeling that these types, with the feathery leaves, are not used for that kind of harvest anyway.

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But now we’re getting into the right kind.

012These purple poppies are the kind you see in opium fields. I grew them because I love the colour. I had no idea I could have started a lucrative business.
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Below you’ll see the same kind but they have a tinge of red.

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Then we have the extra special ones that have many more petals than the usual poppies. Looks like a peony and I think that’s its common name (peony poppy).

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This pink one (below) came from a store in town. I suppose it’s been kidnapped, in a way. I was waiting for the Captain to finish some business while I waited outside the store. Right beside me a window box of poppies with beautiful pink double (quadruple) petals decorated the storefront. One finished bloom sported a dried up seed pod. I snapped off the pod and put it in my pocket. It looked like it should be free for the taking. I felt a twinge of guilt, but reasoned that if the owner had been there she would have said, “Of course. Go ahead.” I treasured that seed pod for months until it was time to plant the seeds the next spring. What you see below is the second generation of my “stolen” seeds. I silently thank the lady at the store whenever I see her progeny in bloom.

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And last of all,  a Eurasian collared dove visits a non-opium poppy. She’s eating corn from under the birdfeeder. She’s not too interested in those orange poppies that somehow made it all the way up here from California just to grow wild in my yard.025a

So if you ever have an “owie” just come on over and I’ll mix you up a potion from those purple poppies to take your pain away.

Warning: It may take a while to make up, and there is no guarantee of the potency or lack of it.

On second thought, maybe a Band-aid and a glass of wine would be a better idea.


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The Columbia

The Okanogan River flows south from northern Washington State, providing irrigation for thousands of acres of fruit trees and vineyards. In the photo below, you can see how the river widens and becomes part of the Columbia River system.DSCN4009

Now things get serious. Chief Joseph Dam, one of many dams on the Columbia, changes the flow and taps into the energy of this mighty river. Whether it is because of water licences or some other reason unknown to me, the orchards and vineyards suddenly become scarcer, and the land on the east side of  the Columbia River is semi-arid desert. Cattle graze there, and a few small farms dot the landscape, but the great expanses of fertile land are no longer a part of the scenery as we drive eastward.

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Note the arid land beyond the dam. It is a place for scrubby plants, coyotes, and rattlesnakes. No more lush orchards.

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My advice – buy your bag of apples before you reach the confluence of the Okanogan and the Columbia.