NighBluey: I am not an artist or a designer of anything but I am told that I am artistic. Still not sure what that means. Maybe I am an artisan. I would like to be called that – it would be flattering.
When “I grow up”, I will own a flower shop. Arranging twigs, branches and stems all day – that would be my dream come true.
I live with an infinitely patient man, two dogs and three cats in a little community on an Ontario lake (which freezes in the winter and becomes home to thousands of ice huts and our annual by-the-shore rink). I am a “country yuppie” you might say. For years, I lived in big cities but I am already busy shedding my big city attachments. In the summer, I try to spend as much time as I can outdoors, including in my garden looking low to the ground and high into the trees, as well as sailing and taking bike trips. My partner, Kevin, and I are also trying to get rid of all the “things” we accumulated over the years, boats, old cars and powertools we will never use.
Odile Gova: I am mostly self taught, although I have made attempts at Art college and various workshops over the past 25 years. I am deeply passionate and committed to my art forms. I’m a stay at home mother, how lucky am I ??!! I pour concrete garden art in the Spring and early Summer . The rest of the year is devoted to knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery and felting. My felt is made from reclaimed wool sweaters that I find at thrift stores and the like.
Despite a sudden (albeit much-welcomed) stretch of unseasonably warm weather, it is definitely fall in Winnipeg. All of the signs are here: a chill in the night-air, squirrels scrambling to gather and hide fallen acorns, gardens slowly withering, and neighbours out in the sunshine raking up piles of brilliant yellow and orange leaves. It’s a time, as D.V. Moore of Papermoth suggests, to “Welcome Change”.
Even though it means winter is around the corner, I absolutely love this time of year. My reasons for favouring it over the other seasons are many, but the clothes have to be at the top of the list. I might be too soon to commit to a coat, but conditions are perfect for tossing on a cardigan or a vest. The kid-sized cardigan pictured above is quintessentially fall, with its autumnal palette and scattering of appliquéd leaves. It is a one-of-a-kind piece, upcycled from wool sweaters, and available in the Gock’s Frocks shop.
I’m sure the runners in the group will agree that fall is a great time to hit the streets and paths. Not only are the vistas constantly changing, gone is the oppressive heat of summer. There are seasonal hazards to watch out for, though, which can make the average run into a bit of an obstacle course. My usual route, for example, has its share of “acorn-hazards”, which can send a less-than-attentive runner flying. Don’t get me wrong; I am nuts about acorns, but for more decorative purposes. I’ll let the squirrels clean up what’s on the ground while I grab myself one of these amazing, one-of-a-kind pendants by Bullseye Beads. A handmade glass bead is topped with a real acorn cap to make each piece truly unique.
It seems like just yesterday that I was gushing about my garden. The tomatoes, as I predicted, were the stand-outs, but the big surprise to this budding green-thumb was the butternut squash that I planted on a whim. At first, it looked like nothing would come of the little vine. It bloomed like mad as it stretched its way across the back of the garden, but didn’t seem to be producing any actual squash. I left it alone, though, and it seems that my intentional neglect has paid-off; hidden behind the basil is a single perfect, bell-shaped squash. Solstice Scents captures the essence of the fall garden, including squash, in this vegan, cruelty-free whipped body butter. I can’t think of a better way to moisturize and carry the scent of autumn with you; throughout the season and beyond.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area with trees that change colour with the seasons, then you are probably quite familiar with the spectacular display as green turns to orange (and red and yellow and crimson…) Prairie Peasant was inspired by those autumnal hues when she pieced together the cover of this stunning handbound journal. As beautiful as it is on the outside, though, the real surprise lies within. Contained between the covers of this special book are deckle-edge sheets of handmade botanical paper, which include real petals and leaves, and plain sheets for recording all of your musings.
So peaceful and relaxing, mostly because it is quite possible that I’ve found a houseplant I can’t kill!
LBRANDTerraria: My three little ones, 5 yrs and under, are the inspiration behind each design. They help critique my every garden. Tends to be quite a challenging panel to pass!
A number of my childhood summers were spent at a card table. Handmade pixie sticks, otter pops,creepy crawlers, and boondoggle bookmarks were some of what my summer sales conisisted of.
Today marks the very day I was able to pluck the first ripe tomatoes of 2010 from my gardens here in the Great White North; three small, but beautiful Green Zebras for those who are keeping track. It’s also the day I begin existing solely on tomatoes, whole grain bread, fresh cracked pepper and mayonnaise, but my love of tomato sandwiches is a story for another day.
Today is a day I look forward to all year, every year; and since summer just wouldn’t be summer without at least one obligatory column dedicated to the tomato it’s a day I am fully committed to commemorating here. Anyone who has enjoyed a tomato fresh from the garden or Farmer’s Market can nod their head and heartily agree as they read the following words: The square, milky orange-red things found in supermarkets shouldn’t even legally be marketed as tomatoes! The taste, the beauty, the smell! In none of these can supermarket tomatoes compete with a good garden fresh, heirloom.
Even hybrid varieties outperform when sourced fresh and local — as a matter of fact, just between you and me, there are a few in my garden that I look forward to almost as much as the heirlooms who flank them in neighboring beds. Still, there is something wholly satisfying about eating a fruit that not only is superior in every way my hedonistic-self desires, but also carries in its very flesh the history of a people, a species, a world; and there is where the heirlooms will win out, every single time.
I’ve never been a things person. I won’t deny the little fixes I crave. My existence is far from austerity. I have my material loves. Keeping up with the Joneses was a hobby I considered taking up in the early years of high school, but that’s as far as it went. I often joke it stems from a fear, nay! a full-blown phobia, of commitment. If I’m honest though, I have just as many attachments as the Joneses. Mine are just in the earth, rather than the things man has put atop it.
I have somehow reconciled a being that is plagued with both a strong wanderlust and deep roots in the history of the earth herself. Our home and budding farm is on land that has been in my husband’s family for many years, our favorite summer vacationing spot is the farm that has been in my family for nearly as many. There we pull our camper up alongside the cabin my own grandfather built when my mother was just a girl; he’s the same man from whom I imagine my love of gardening was inherited.
He always tended a large plot. And in the latest days of winter and early spring the back room of the farm house that no longer stands there I remember hundreds of seedlings emerging from their small pots; covering every last horizontal surface. He too loved tomatoes. A stout German man with prickly cheeks and an affinity for making his granddaughters blush — “Have you been kissing boys?” he’d ask us every time we entered the warm kitchen where he almost always sat at the head of the table playing solitaire and planning what to cook next, he was a wonderful cook — he passed away when I was sixteen. I hadn’t yet discovered my love of dirt and growing. If there’s any thing I regret not inheriting it was his garden wisdom. I never had the opportunity to ask.
And therein lies my attraction to heirloom tomatoes. Though I’m rather certain my grandfather grew his share of hybrids the history of the tomatoes themselves being passed from generation to generation — their open-pollination, their consistency, their familial resemblance year after year never reverting to an earlier set of traits less desirable than those they presently show; inherited like fine lace, grand pianos, holiday traditions; providing sustenance to each generation as they grow, mature, and age — they represent a continuation of the absence of agricultural knowledge between Depression Era grandparents and their grandchildren, a re-entrance to a more wholesome world; a connection with my grandfather.
Do you love heirloom tomatoes for reasons deeper than the taste, the look, the smell? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
And while we’re on the subject, all of the heirloom tomato art featured in this column is by Bobby Joe Fontenot on Etsy. Go pick yourself up an original watercolor or two — your kitchen will thank you come the long dreary days of winter.