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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


Let's Go Yurting Mississippi

IT FEELS LIKE THE Mississippi winter has finally arrived. Our plants outside were growing just like it was springtime just before New Year’s when we got that blustery wake up call. Foliage that is new and soft is more prone to getting burned when the cold comes on so suddenly like that. I would rather see a slow and more gradual drop in temperatures so the hardened off foliage won’t get surprised and more likely damaged. That is not up to me and it is the natural progression of things.

Even though I know this, Mimi and I covered some plants at home just holding off the inevitable and our crew at the nursery helped us cover some of the tender plants that are outside our garden center. It’s always a tough choice when it comes to deciding what to cover and what not to cover. We still have flats of pansies on our retail tables that are in just perfect condition. Pansies are cold hardy but they sell a lot better when the blooms aren’t tattered from the high winds and sudden cold blast that moved in right after New Year’s.

The weather has stabilized a bit as I write this, but it does finally feel like a Mississippi winter now. When the temperatures are in the 60s during the day and upper 30s at night the plants aren’t getting damaged but they are going dormant. That’s when they stop taking up water and nutrients compared to when they are actively growing and needing supplements. During these times even the pests have mostly gone dormant so our worries in the garden are much less. I have to keep in mind that the pests on our plants that were there when the season ended will be there when the next growing season starts. Somehow they can overwinter no matter how tough the winter seems to us. I try to have my yard as pest free as I can before winter arrives so my work will be much less the next spring.

The other reason I like it when the cooler nights get here is that I got the best Christmas present ever and can now use it. The yurt in our back yard had reached its end. The cotton canvas only lasts about three or four years due to the humidity. We are on our fourth yurt so I knew to start the ordering process back in September to have one ready to ship to us by December when we usually put the yurt back up for winter. Much to my surprise the company out of the U.K. had gone out of business (due to Covid I guess). I was kind of sad thinking about not seeing that beautifully shaped tent in our back yard in the daytime and the glowing version of it at night. The yurt is set back in the trees on a wooden deck that Mimi and I foolishly built one scalding hot Labor Day weekend.

I had accepted that wouldn’t be part of our view this winter and maybe never again. I was having a hard time accepting that Mimi and I and our Corgi, Barney, wouldn’t be spending any nights down there this winter. We love it because with the darkness coming so early these days it gives us an activity to enjoy and it helps to lull us away from the television which brings us nothing but discouragement. It’s just nice to have something different to get excited about while it’s not our typical busy season when it’s too warm to sleep out there.

UNBEKNOWNST TO me Mimi had searched out another company that makes one very similar to the type we’ve had before. On Christmas morning Mimi and Max and Mia drug in the two big boxes the yurt was packed in. I had only seen them shipped in one box so I was curious why this one came in two boxes. They had always shipped as a complete kit with the cotton canvas top and a zip off rubber floor, all the stakes and strings and the poles. This second box had a jute woven floor that is cut to fit the circular footprint in it. We had always covered the floor with some carpets we brought back from Morocco. They were all square or rectangular so they never fit exactly right.

The new floor looked great. We added a couple small rugs at the foot of the king size bed and one rug on either side to put your feet on when you climb out of bed. We put two bedside tables with solar lights on them and we have a small table for making coffee in the morning and two rocking chairs for sipping the coffee. We have a bed down there for Barney, he loves a yurt night and sleeps like the 13 year old dog that he is.

Night sounds are really nice. The wind lightly moves leaves and branches. Animals that just come out at night make unfamiliar noises. We are very close to the pond so we hear water noises almost enough to drown out Barney’s snoring. We have a little propane heater that gets the inside very snug and warm but our too-cold-to-camp temperature is 38 degrees. Any colder than that makes it too hard to make that dash to the house to get ready for work.

I like this yurt’s layout even more than the brand we had been using. The guide wires on the previous brand were a tripping hazard at night. The current brand figured a great way to cinch everything down without all those strings going every which-away. This new yurt is my favorite one ever because I really thought our yurting days were over, never crossed my mind to look for another brand. I probably overdo staying loyal to a place once I find one that I like.

MIMI AND I WERE thinking alike this year. We both bought something big for the yard. Most have probably noticed the kinetic wind sculptures at Highland Village. When you enter from the Northside Drive entrance you will see some there and I think there are three giant ones over on the frontage road side near Char restaurant. The art forms are made of copper and the slightest breeze, around five MPH will keep them moving. Years ago we found out who the artist is while we were in Montana. We bought the biggest one we could afford and have really loved it over the years.

I got back in touch with the artist this year to see about having one made out of stainless steel. He said the stainless really showed up in the sunlight. He is making one for us that will be 10 feet tall and have lots of movement. We are excited about this big addition to our yard. I think he said he would be shipping it to us around April so we are already figuring out where it goes that we will get the most bang for our bucks.

Those are the fun gifts to get and to give, those that can be used well after the last Christmas cookie is gone. These kind of gifts are something that can be treasured for years to come. I’ll have some pictures of the new yurt and some pictures of the copper sculptures on our website for you to see.

I’m hoping you are enjoying this mild January and stepping out to see the stars at night. Me and Mimi and Barney plan to spend most of our evenings out there during one of Mississippi’s finest seasons.

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