summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Friday, June 28, 2013

Adventures with Ann - A Birthday Celebration

Fortunately, my friend Ann and I have been able to connect more times this year than in years past - yippee!


Yesterday, I took Ann (actually Ann drove because she is a better driver and she has a much nicer car) on her birthday surprise.  Amazingly, her birthday was only a few short days ago.  Usually, we do not get a chance to celebrate her special day until January of the following year.  We are both improving with our planning and freeing up time..comes with age, I guess.


First stop, lunch, of course!  Thunderbird CafĂ© (see blog, Autumn Road Trip - October 15, 2012) was on my plan. Both Ann and I loved the delicious food; fried chicken marinated in sweet tea for Ann, country-fried steak for me. We both tried the bacon sage gravy - yummy!  We shared a peach and blackberry crumble, forcing each flavored-packed morsel into our mouths with the soup spoons we were given. The storm- threatening sky did not disappoint either.  We enjoyed our meal while watching a torrential rain which conveniently subsided as we left the cafe for our next stop.


I had reserved space in a Lavender Wand-making Class at a lovely family-run farm, White Oak Lavender.  We arrived a few minutes early to sign-in as requested and spent a bit of time drifting about the lavender-laden gift shop where a multitude of inventory containing lavender, colored lavender, or displaying lavender motifs could be purchased.  Ann and I wandered to the class tent right on time.  The tables and chairs were empty.  Women wandered the lavender fields clipping lavender.  We saw one woman on the deck clipping her lavender stems.  “Are you in the class? We asked. She was and she had collected her lavender stems.  Ann and I were already behind.  We grabbed a pair of scissors each and raced down among the lavender plants to collect our 20 stems as instructed by the busy stranger.  As we clipped, I now noticed that the class area had filled and I could hear muted instructions.  Ann and I continued to be behind.  We rushed back to the tent with our 20 lavender stems, sat down in chairs, and tried to figure out what we had missed.  As we looked around, not one other class participant had any lavender.  The instructor, Rebecca, was giving directions on the proper way to clip the lavender stems.  Ann and I looked at each other.  We were not tardy or behind. In fact, we were ahead of our class.  And, as most over- achievers, we had not cut our lavender correctly.  Out of our 40 stems, only 14 were useable in the wand project. Ooops!


Thank goodness Rebecca had a sense of humor.  And, Ann and I thought, in unison, ‘So like Ann and Cyndy’.


Ann and I ended up with a pretty ribbon and lavender wand to hang in a closet, put in a drawer or place on a pillow to exude the relaxing scent of the lavender. We were thrilled. 

Before leaving, we walked about the beautifully manicured and full lavender fields and flowering perennial plants bounded by lush grass pathways.  We went back to the well-stocked and carefully displayed shop to make a few purchases. 

White Oak Lavender is fully fragrant and a joy. I highly recommend a visit. (Check out at for information.) There is even a petting zoo for kids of all ages.

Ann and I plan to return soon for Aroma 101 - an aromatherapy class - ahhhh!

White Oak Lavender is not just a destination, it is an experience!

A short drive down the country road brought us to our last stop - Cross Keys Winery - a strikingly situated winery in the Shenandoah Valley.  A tasting of both red and white wines brought a relaxed ending to our full day.


The best part of the adventure…sharing it with my dear friend, Ann!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sugarbridge Revisited

The Friends of Gladys Taber (FOGT) recently met in Pennsylvania to tour Sugarbridge.  My first FOGT Reunion was at Sugarbridge in 2004. So, this event was a kind of homecoming for me.

Gladys Taber, my favorite author, co-authored Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge (1953) with Barbara Webster.  Edward Shenton, Barbara’s husband, illustrated the book.  Shenton illustrated other notable books - The Green Hills of Africa and The Yearling to name two as well as many magazine articles and covers.


Stillmeadow was the Connecticut home of Taber, now in the care of her heirs, and Sugarbridge was once the home of the Shentons.  Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge is a book comprised of the correspondence between the two authors over the course of a year - sharing bits of their lives as the seasons change in their respective locations.


For me, to read about a home, a place, a community and then have the opportunity to actually visit the same in person is a fabulous experience.  Of course, much has changed in the 60 years since the publication of Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge; yet, I was able to imagine the magnificence of what I had read and enjoyed. The simple country life related in this book is very similar to my life on my farm today.  And, I am relieved, that the lifestyle has not been lost.


Also, the ability to take photos of the same scenes as portrayed in the book by Shenton’s  drawings is an added bonus,  a documentation of the evolution of the particular site.


Ned, son of the Shentons, was on hand to describe his life and his home back in the 50’s - a wonderful dividend - as we walked around the home and property.  Ned has written overviews, sketches, for both his parents. These two little gems are available for sale and would make a perfect addition for any Barbara Webster or Edward Shenton enthusiasts.  E-mail Ned at for purchase information. Ned Shenton was also our guest speaker.  He presented a delightful look into the life of his Mother and Sugarbridge. 


Other favorite books I recommend by Barbara Webster are The Green Year and The Color of the Country; and, The Rib and Adam by Edward Shenton.  If you are a devotee of Gladys Taber or of reading about the pleasures of realistic country living, then you will certainly enjoy these favorites.

Other highlights of this Reunion included:  viewing an original mural by Edward Shenton hanging in the Chester County Courthouse, Dr. Catherine Turner speaking on ”Lippincott & Publishing in Philadelphia, mid-20th Century”, Ellen Werthheimer relating stories of her Uncle David, recently passed away, who had grown up at Stillmeadow and was often included in the many Stillmeadow stories, and Cathy Weissman presenting “Memories of My Mother, Wilma Phillips”.  Wilma, also recently passed away, was not only a long time and active contributing member of the FOGT, but she lived uphill from Stillmeadow on land that once was a part of the Stillmeadow acreage and which was acquired by her husband Willy who had been one of Gladys Taber’s endearing helpers. 


The Friends of Gladys Taber has been referred to as a fan club.  However, the FOGT is much more than a fan club.  The members are kindred spirits who gather together and share to keep the outstanding and timeless literary works and the honest and virtuous character of Gladys Taber thriving.  Gladys Taber had a brilliant way with words, and those words began in her heart.

Friday, June 21, 2013



Thursday, June 13, 2013

More Simplicity, More Treasures


The babies have broken shell.  Counted three, huge, yellow, open beaks! But, this guy seems to be the most aggressive.
It's back...actually, probably never left!


Monday, June 10, 2013

A Gladys Taber Quote To Ponder

I set a goal for myself to have my reread of Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge (1953) completed by midweek. The continuous, back to back days of rain has helped me to attain that end.

Written by both Gladys Taber, my favorite author, and by Barbara Webster, a favorite author, has added to the ease of my usual reading habit.  Quite frankly, I often fall asleep while reading whether the book in hand is good or otherwise.  This book is a reflection of correspondence between these two authors; one living in Connecticut and the other in Pennsylvania. They share a talented illustrator, Edward Shenton, who also happens to be the husband of Barbara Webster.  I am sure many of you have noticed his name, as illustrator, attached to many notable books. 

Today, I came across the following offered by Taber:

      “Simple things make up my treasures most of the time. There are so many in the country…

      “Possibly if we all saw to it that everyone had enough of the simple things- it’s a thought anyways”

I agree.  I cherish the simple things, the little things that make up my life on my farm. 


Look around your world for the simple things, the treasures in your life.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Snake Magnet


My friend Ann deplores, hates, snakes - any kind, any size, any snake.  Yet, she seems to attract them. 


They (copperheads, no less) inhabit her gardens around her home.  Once lush and beautiful, her gardens have now been cleared and reduced to a few wide-spaced plants to deter the unwanted creatures.  Her intention was to keep the area open for easy viewing and to rid the desirable habitat for one less inviting…to the snakes. 


Today, I was walking on my back deck and, for no reason, took a quick look to my left.  


There IT was…a long, black, tongue-wiggling snake weaving about the lattice at the side of the house.  And, do you know what was inches away from that snake?  A lovely Angel-Wing Begonia cutting given to me by a thoughtful friend.


Which friend was the gracious giver?  Do you really need to ask? You guessed correctly…ANN.   Ann does not even have to be physically present to attract a snake.  Hmmm. What else has she given me over the years????   


A coincidence?  I think not!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Better Luck Next Year

Back in late May, we had a few major thunderstorms.


My cherries, still unripe, paid a price.  The sour cherries did not grow very large and half the sweet cherries ended up on the ground, rotting.


A few days of sun gave me hope.


Now, again, we are in rain mode.  The rain does wonders for my perennials, and weeds, but not so much for my cherries.


The small sour cherries look like they might be ripening.  We are going ‘crazy’ or is it ‘lazy’ this year by not covering the tree with netting to protect the crop from our friendly, and hungry, neighborhood birds.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that we will harvest enough for a pie or two for us, not the birds.

But, the sweet cherries are doomed.  The fruit remaining on the tree has been invaded by ants - a new phenomenon for us here at Mountain Glen Farm.  Oh no, yikes, double ugh!!  ANTS!!!!  Almost each and every cherry is being munched on as I write this obit.  We will truly miss the sweet flesh, the organic juice, the natural flavor as only our own homegrown cherries can provide.


Like the saying goes, “Better luck next year.”


That is what I call a 'perfect; golden brown!

Fortunately, we (more me than Glenn - he is the sour cherry connoisseur) are still enjoying our own homegrown strawberries…sauce, jam and shortcake.  Yummy!


One for two is better than zero. 

And, Mrs. Robin is still hanging out on her nest.