Hello Sunday Letter friends!
I hope you’ve had a productive week of harvesting, gardening, reading, working, traveling, cooking, playing—all those things you do. Summer has returned to Arkansas, and the weather has been as hot as Hades and fog-up-your-glasses steamy. It can’t last too much longer though. At least I don’t think so.
We must have 200 or more dried coneflowers in the front bed. They aren’t all that attractive to look at but are plenty beautiful (I imagine) to the birds who feast on their seeds. The end of coneflower season is almost as sad to me as the end of watermelon season. And that’s sad.
Lo and behold, just when I thought our coneflowers were finished for the year, I noticed a new purple coneflower bloom, the flower growing behind the stone wall beside the back driveway. She’s not as bright and lush as July’s first coneflowers, a little washed out in fact, but a new bloom nonetheless.
And I celebrate her.
I notice her every time I take the garbage out or drive my vehicle into the garage.
At first she bloomed two-toned, half pink and half white. Then, all her petals turned the same shade of pink as though she managed to pull all the remaining late summer sunshine from the sky. Our last coneflower of the year. I’m pretty sure.
Today, I’ll try to find one more sweet watermelon before it’s too late. There must be one out there.
Even though it still feels more like barbecue-in-the-backyard than soup-on-the-stove weather, I made a big pot of my favorite last week. It’s called Spicy Vegetable Soup, but the name doesn’t do it justice. Plus, it’s a bit misleading because it has ground beef in it. I suppose Spicy Vegetable and Hamburger Soup is too big a mouthful?
You’ll want this one in your permanent recipe collection, I promise. It is super easy to whip together and extra yummy with a wedge of hot cornbread. Even now, when the last coneflower is blooming.
Click HERE for the recipe.
How many monarch caterpillars do you see?
These babies moved from the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks to our butterfly garden this week. Since we still have lots of milkweed, I volunteered to foster these guys who (along with lots of their friends and cousins and siblings) have eaten their way through BGO’s offering of monarch caterpillar food. (Food = milkweed.)
Take a look!
They took to their new home right off, each like a little Pac-Man munching away at milkweed rather than dots and ghosts. (Raise your hand if you remember/played Pac-Man once upon a time.)
Word of the Day
Now, look at the box filled with caterpillars again.
See what looks like mouse droppings?
That’s caterpillar poop. And there’s a specific word for it. Frass.
Monarch caterpillars truly are eating and pooping machines. When they devour milkweed outside in your butterfly garden, frass automatically sprinkles into your soil like pixie dust. Frass contains lots of nutrients, much like compost. So that’s a good thing.
(If you raise caterpillars in a container, clean out the frass every day and discard it in the trash. Bacteria can grow quickly in this sort of environment.)
There you have it. A new word for your next Scrabble game. Frass could get you 24 points if you work it onto the triple word point square.
Things Momma Says
I haven’t had any good ribs since Thomas Tate died.
Random, I know, but that’s all I’ve got from Momma. She was quiet this week…
Here’s to another great week, Sunday Letter friends!
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Cathy Voight says
That soup looks delicious. I adore okra spit might go on the list this week!
Talya Tate Boerner says
It is. Not sure about okra spit LOL.
Can’t wait to try the soup recipe…but maybe ’til it’s a little cooler. You have guilted me with your catepillars. I need to plant milk weed…
Talya Tate Boerner says
We had one monarch caterpillar on our milkweed plant which just came up volunteer in our yard and I saw plenty of frass and the leaves have been totally eaten up but I have not seen a cocoon and the caterpillar is no longer there. What do you think of that? Oh I wouldn’t want to use up the letter ‘s’ let alone two of them unless it would be attached to another high point word gaining 40 or more points. ? I enjoy soup year round. It doesn’t heat up the kitchen while cooking.
Dorothy Johnson says
I just checked our coneflowers and found one brave bloom much like yours along with four other fading beauties. The rest bird food, too.
I love the idea of you fostering the monarch caterpillars.
Your soup looks much like Terry’s mother’s—a standard fall and winter supper for us—always with my momma’s cornbread,