Play in the Yard Weekend, May 2015

Last Saturday morning dawned clear and cool; the perfect beginning to our official "play in the yard weekend".  I stepped out the house with my cup of coffee and a big pan of marinated chicken hindquarters that had been parked in the fridge overnight, marinating.
I filled the charcoal chimney with charcoal then tore strips off the bag to light it with.  My  tip for this post is that the thick bag that the charcoal comes in is great starter to put under the chimney. 

  You will note that our beloved water pitcher BBQ mascot, "Pourky the Pig" was forced into retirement when his belly rusted out and he could no longer hold his water. He has been retired from the 'playing field' and has become 'the coaching staff', residing on the far end of our BBQ table, where he's turned facing da pit so he can watch the whole proceedings. So sad; gone, but not....gone.
  Our new mascot was given to us by a friend of ours, Susan, from Texas.  This Robin water pitcher, that we call "Smokey Robin-son" brings an accurate stream of water from his beak when the fire in the pit gets too hot. It's not the wide spray that Pourky's snout used to contribute.  This makes for more accurate flame dousing. (Those of you who know us will 'get' the name.)
  While the charcoal was getting lit, I wandered out to Peggy's new shade garden.  So new it aint very shady yet, but a fun work in progress.  I noticed the crowd had already gathered under the yum-yum tree.
Often folks will ask us, "With all the cool li'l critters yall have, why haven't yall got any Gnomes??"  The answer is easy.  The gators or watch frogs eat em.
While wandering around, I noticed the charcoal was lit, so I poured them in our ol' pit over on the side where the air intake is.
I added a few more coals from the bag, and while they 'took', I continued walking around this new shade garden bed.  One pleasant surprise was the butternut squash vines that sprung up unexpectedly and almost took over her whole new garden.  I guess the seeds were hiding in our compost pile when I transferred a couple wheelbarrow loads of the dark rich compost soil over to the shade garden.  We noticed them growing and decided if they wanted to volunteer, we would let them; what the heck.  We love butternut squash, and though we have never formally planted any, we have harvested several "volunteers" over the years.  They are very easy to grow, that's for sure; they just spring up and dang near take over. Last year, two of these surprise volunteers crawled up and over the top of our grape arbor and presented us with a couple of very fine suppers.
The new "squashy and not too shady yet shade garden" just kinda fits right in to the jungle that is our backyard play area and we can't wait to see what new surprises and treats it has in store for us. (A few times it brought us cats and kittens.)
In this picture you can see our new hummingbird feeder.  This year we went with the cheap dollar store version and decided to make our own sugar water mixture for it.  We use 1 part sugar and 4 parts warm water from the tap.  Shake it up to mix it and once it has cooled a bit hang it up.  The hummers seem to like it. In years past we invested a lot of money for fancy feeders and expensive food, but for some reason they were total failures, not letting the birds get the nectar. Who knew cheaper would be better?
By this time I wandered back to the patio, the charcoal was all lit, so I parked the chicken on the grill.
Al E.Gator and Smokey Robinson stood guard over da pit, 
protecting it from several pets who might be watching for accidental snacking opportunities:
Beaux da Brat seemed more interested in the goings on by the fire pit.
As you can see, looking back at our house, over by the BBQ pit the gardenia is in full bloom with the jasmine vining above it adding its scent. The combination of all these scents, the bbq pit, the firepit, the florals made for a wonderful chubby Cajun aroma therapy.

You can also see in this smelly corner a canna lilly being the first of its kind to bloom.  After about an hour of reflection and relaxation, I stopped, went and mopped and flopped and mopped the chicken again. Not too daunting a task.
This is not BBQ sauce; it is a basting sauce made from the marinade the chicken spent the night with in the fridge, then we added a stick of butter and a cup of wine in this little pot.  We always bring this to a simmer because the raw chicken had been sitting in this marinade for quite some time before we put it on the stove. This basting sauce ensures good juicy pieces of chicken. 
 So, while the chicken in da pit continued roasting, I wandered around some more and spotted a lady bug eating aphids that were munching away on one of our volunteer squash leaves.  "Good girl!  I wish ya had brought a couple hundred sisters with ya." Not fond of aphids. (Peg said I did not "spot" the lady bug...never mind)
 I also noticed that our lacy flowery ligustrum shrub was buzzing with bees.  Honey bees,
as well as some big bumble bees!
The yard was  also full of dragonflies by the hundreds!  Us Cajuns call them mosquito hawks.  When Peggy first moved down here she was, and still is fascinated by them, loves them and enjoys watching them up close.  I used to grin when she forgot that we called them "skeeter hawks", but she excitedly referred to them as mosquito jets.  I picked at her about it, but now we both call them ' mosquito jets' as an inside joke.
 I got a picture of this one sitting on the antenna of my Jeep.
The lemon tree is full of baby lemons.
Below, except for very fragrant flowers, you can see a history of this years crop of our grapefruit. A new batch of baby fruit is coming along,  there's the heavy cluster of mature fruit, which is at it's sweetest and juiciest right now. Below under the tree are the fallen and decomposing, which are adding nutrients back into the soil under the tree.  We have learned that if you pick the outer hanging fruit first, the ones in the shady cool central area of the tree will stay good, on into Summer.  This is a wonderful tip for you citrus growers.  The oranges were devoured in the Fall, but the grapefruits, taking longer to ripen, hang in there longer...literally.
After two hours, the chicken got mopped and flopped and mopped again. I took up several of the smaller pieces that were done, and that made room for some of our Cajun-style burgers.
While they all introduced themselves in da pit, I sat and enjoyed the view across our yard. The round 'fella' there is the fig tree, which has a lot of little green figs. Made my mouth water while I was sitting there making plans for the dark sweet ripened crop that should be coming along soon.
Our garden boxes in the late afternoon sun. 
As the shadows lengthened and the evening wore on, it sure was nice looking out at our li'l piece of paradise.
The chicken was amazing and the burgers passed the Cappy taste test with flying juices.....er colors.
As the sun set, Peggy and I sat hand in hand by the dying fire giving thanks to the Lord for the amazing 'play in the yard' day we had.
It was truly a prayer come true, this wonderful relaxing 'stay vacation' play day. We had enjoyed the day to the fullest, then sat and listened to the fire crackle as the sun went down and the first stars showed up, followed by a huge orange full moon peeking over the grape arbor between the large banana palms. We were enveloped in the hush of the darkness, and as the morning had dawned bright and cool, so began the glorious moon-bathed evening.

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