Back on Track

After a fun month of traveling and having visits from relatives, I am settling back into my usual routine.  I’m caught up on the basic chores – the house is all clean, the animals are all healthy –  even the library books have been returned on time.

So, what to do first?  I have so many projects I want to do – finish the warp that’s on the loom, make some quilts for charity with the fabric that friend Susan donated to me, improve my photography skills, try to get the upper hand on the weeds in the garden before they start swiveling their heads ominously as I pass by…

All of those things could wait though, for years.  But one of my project ideas has an expiration date,driving it to the top of the list.  With the cows temporarily off the property, all kinds of plants are getting a chance to grow.  I am amazed that anything at all survived last year’s drought, but a  huge variety of flowers, grasses, and shrubs is thriving.  I am seeing plants I have never seen here in 35 years.

The one that’s blooming strongest now is rudbeckia, or black-eyed Susan.  They won’t be here long.  I think I read somewhere (years ago) that they make a good natural dye, and this seems like a good time to try it.

As I take the lambs out for their daily walk, I cut flower heads (only a few from each plant) and drop them into a 2-gallon bucket.  Here’s the bucket about half full.

rudbeckia in bucket

Rudbeckia blooms ready for dye experiments

Once again I am struck by variety, but this time in just one species.  Most of the flowers are bright yellow-orange, but some are a lime-greenish yellow.  Some have maroon splotches, or fine stripes, spreading out from the center.  And all kinds of tiny residents call the rudbeckia home – small shiny wasps, pale green spiders waving their front legs a whole half-inch span to fend me off, tiny black and white checked butterflies.  I want to document all the variations.  I want to create quilt blocks that are all unified but slightly different.


A variety of blooms

Regardless of how the dye experiments turn out, I could work for weeks with just these flowers for inspiration!

Rudbeckia detail

Look how different just these four are!