An Honest Prayer

They arrive in the middle of the summer . . .

For the past several years the leaves on my cherry tree and raspberry bushes have been devoured by beetles. Only the veins of the leaf remain after Japanese beetles have had their feast.

So I have been devising strategies to rid my yard of these pests. I tried the pheromone traps that brought more beetles to my yard. Then I did walking tours to tip them off the leaves into a bowl of soapy water. I have shaken branches and jumped when one of the beetles fell down my shirt.

This year I sprayed my tree with neem oil and continued the walking tours with my bowl of soapy water. It is working.

In the midst of my annoyance I have to admit that I have a bit of wonder over the Japanese beetle. They have a metallic green/brown color that catches the light.

Japanese Beetle

Sometime they fall in my bowl of water when I tip a leaf—other times they get their wings out in an instant and fly off. The female beetles emit a pheromone that attracts the male beetles. So a few females on the leaves of a plant soon becomes a party.

The beetles have wiry legs (I have felt them on my hand). The female beetle is able to dig down into the earth to deposit her eggs and then climb out. Over a summer she may deposit as many as 60 eggs. The eggs develop into grubs and in one year—sometimes two—they will be an adult beetle. They are unique insects.

Yesterday, while I was with the grandchildren I showed them how to tip the beetles off a raspberry bush into soapy water. The boys were fascinated, the girls said that beetles were gross. We captured 20 beetles.

A little while later I was sitting with the children while they had bedtime snacks. The two year old pointed to the top of my head. I was in the middle of a sentence when my granddaughter said, “Grandma there is a beetle in your hair.” She giggled when I picked it out of my hair and put it into our bowl of soapy water.

Later that I night I was praying with my grandson. I thanked God for the blessings of the day and the interesting beetles. And then these words slipped out of my mouth, “but God I don’t know why you made them.”

After praying we talked a little more about the beetles. Some things in our world are puzzling. The beetles do so much damage to plants. My grandson said, “Maybe they do something good that we don’t know about.” 

Kate’s prompt for the Five Minute Friday community of writers is: MIDDLE

We Built a Fairy House

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: VISIT

Today my three-year-old granddaughter came to visit.   She  had  just   arrived when she showed me a book she had been looking at.  It had fairy houses. “Grandma, will you help me make a fairy house?”

I didn’t know what to say at first. Then I suggested that we walk around the backyard. This sweet little girl began pointing out flowers and we picked a few. We talked and she stimulated my imagination. I collected a couple large pieces of bark—she was delighted to see a couple roly-poly bugs (also known as pill bugs) on the bark. She played with the bugs as I propped the bark over an empty little plant container.

Then her imagination took over, and as I handed her leaves and pieces of vine, she continued to build the “fairy house”.

A Fairy House

It was a special time. We talked about the wonderful variety in God’s creation.//

We looked at the currant bushes with abundant green berries. We picked a gooseberry, not quite ripe but pretty to look at.

Gooseberry

My granddaughter pointed out a yellow flower that had grown volunteer, maybe a calendula.

It is truly a gift to spend time with a child, seeing the world with her. I delighted in the imagination of my little granddaughter. In our time together I had an opportunity to share my thoughts about God.

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Pretty Green Globes: Gooseberries for Jam and Pie

gooseberries

Berries have always been valued in my family as a special treat. When I was a kid it was mainly strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. There are so many more.  I am developing an appreciation for gooseberries,     elderberries and currants.

The latter three grow well in my backyard. Gooseberries, elderberries and currants don’t seem to mind our clay soil—although I have worked at enriching it with peat and in the fall add a layer of dried grass or shredded leaves. These berry bushes don’t need much care, just need to be picked.

Gooseberries

The gooseberries are ripening. My two-year-old grandson was fascinated with the little green globe. He held one in his hand turning it around and gazing at the stripes with wonder. So much to wonder at in nature. God has created so much for us to enjoy!

Have you ever tasted a gooseberry? My grandson took a tentative little bite. It is rather sour but good for jam and pie.

Two cookbooks are helpful in providing directions for gooseberry jam: Cooking with Wild Berries and Fruits by Teresa Marrone and Stocking Up from Rodale Press. According to Teresa Marrone’s book, green gooseberries (not quite ripe) contain enough pectin to make a simple jam without added pectin.

The first step is to cook the gooseberries with a little water (2 or 3 Tablespoons of water per cup of berries). Bring the berries to a boil and then simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Mash the berries with a potato masher.   Next add the sugar (or honey) gradually—approximately ½ cup to ¾ cup per cup of berries. I tend to taste the mixture several times as I continue to add the sweetener. A combination of sugar & honey works also. I like a tart jam. When the sugar is well mixed in, bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. When I am using honey as a sweetener I add additional pectin–homemade pectin–in the last minute of cooking. (BTW – If you add a pat of butter to the boiling fruit, it won’t spit at you.)

The final step is to ladle into sterile jars and process in a hot water bath. I process half-pint jars for 10 minutes. Gooseberry jam has an interesting color and rich flavor.

gooseberry jam

Gooseberries are good in pie also. I freeze some of the gooseberries for apple/gooseberry pies.

Marrone, Teresa, Cooking with Wild Berries and Fruits, Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, Inc. 2009 p. 70

Stoner, Carol, editor, Stocking Up, Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.

Linking with Our Simple HomesteadFrom the FarmTuesdays with a TwistHappy, Healthy, Green & Natural,  Mom to Mom Mondays, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday,  the Art of Homemaking and  Seasons