kentucky home journal june 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

I’ve been here for six years now and finally made it to Churchill Downs. Not for the Kentucky Derby, of course, but for a day at the races. I’ve watched TV
coverage of the Derby off and on since the year (?) Native Dancer won. Since I’ve been here I’ve religiously attended the Derby Day party given in behalf
of our parish by my friend Georgine. Small time bets are placed. The winner splits the pot with the parish. usually, of course, it all gets donated. Slowly it
began to dawn on me that I really ought to get up there and see it.

Georgine goes annually with a group from our area. This year I decided to go along. Our air-conditioned bus dropped us off right at Gate 10, a short walk
from the Clubhouse. As I stepped off the bus I was thrilled to look up and see the familiar spires. It felt more exciting than I thought. Along the covered walk-
way from the gate to the Clubhouse were huge hanging pots filled with an amazing selection of flowers. It made me think of the Art in Bloom events I’ve enjoyed at the MFA in Boston. Our group had reservations for Millionaries Row on the 4th floor. We arrived just in time to get in line for the abundantly stocked buffet lunch. Our tables were right at the windows overlooking the track. I did not realize until the races began that we could step outside onto a covered balcony that overlooked the finish line. I had planned to have lunch and go to the museum and gift shop for the afternoon. But everyone at our table including Georgine was deeply absorbed in her racing program, figuring out bets for the first race. Georgine’s son Robin who has worked many years at racetracks had sent along the number of the horse he recommended for each race. He had also recommended a way to play them that was different from the way she usually placed her bets. So I offered to do it his way so we could compare the two strategies. As it turned out we both came home with $20, give or take. But it was so much fun. We got to see Calvin Borel (who won the Derby a couple of years ago) ride twice. He won for us both times, the second time by a nose. It was just thrilling to be standing right over the finish line as the horses came down the stretch neck and neck. He pulled ahead just in the nick of time.

John was here for two weeks. I enjoyed some quiet early mornings with him. Otherwise things were kind of crazy. He came with a school friend Moriah and her family which included two children close to Sasha and Madeline in age. Meela did some of the animal chores with Sasha when they were not chasing each other or splashing in the swimming hole with Madeline and Hugo and Uncle John. After the first week John was joined by another friend, Joe. They took on the
project of finishing the next phase of Sasha’s greenhouse: erecting the cedar framing and installing one of the big doors. Paul had planned a fishing day away from the farm for that Wednesday. There was thunder and lightning and it poured down rain. It got so cool late morning that I actually got out a flannel shirt. I felt so bad that their day was so dark and stormy. Meanwhile they were having the time of their lives: reeling in fish so fast they could hardly unhook and rebait fast enough. They came home at the end of the day, beaming, and soaked, with a cooler full of white bass, a few drum, and a carp. What a feast of grilled fish we had that evening, with fresh- from -the -garden salad and granny’s rainyday brownies. Paul and John went the following evening and came back with five white bass. Next morning John grilled them in garlic butter and fresh thyme for Sasha and me.

So far the prize for the season goes to Paul who came home a few days ago with a 21″ Walleye. I wish I could have captured his grin. He has become quite an avid fisherman, learning how to fish the quirks of the Cumberland River near Burkesville.

Sasha continues to expand his animal chores, milking Addie morning and evening, as well as working Earl, and learning to ride Rosie. We are fortunate to have an intern George who is working with him on the riding. He has also taken on the time-consuming chore of mowing the pastures, using old and new
technology. He chain-harrows the fields to remove rocks and other debris with donkey-powered Earl. Then rides the gas-powered mower to cut the grass. Human powered rakes follow so the mowed grass can be gathered for mulch. Sasha says he is wanting a “hay-rake”, like the horse-drawn implement we saw
our friend Lane use to rake his hay. I’m not sure Earl could actually pull one.

Everyone at the market is clamoring for tomatoes. Our erratic spring weather will bring them in later than usual. Meanwhile blueberries are in. Last week Jackson’s Orchard brought sweet early peaches and tart (applesauce) apples. Our stand had red russian kale, chard, cabbage, and basil, dill, and cilantro.
The ever popular carrots are done for now.

I am so delighted that Ellie and Phoebe and Rob will be here to celebrate my 70th birthday. To have all four grandchildren with me will make it a very special occasion. Best summer wishes to each one of you. Love, Louise

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