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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reflections on a Cold and Rainy Spring

Have there been any sunny warm days this Spring? I don't remember any but I know there have been a few since I remember sitting on our porch listening to Car Talk with Bill or sorting through magazines as he worked on his nickel collection or brushed our remaining cat or doing the check books as he read the new Coin World. Mostly though it has been cold enough and damp enough to need a fire in the wood stove or turn up the thermostat or wear a turtle neck under a heavy sweater. I thought I wanted to move to New Mexico only from February to the middle of April. Now I'm thinking maybe six months there and six here, but not really.

Despite the miserable weather the gardens and surrounding trees and woodlands beneath the tree line have gone on their merry Springtime way. It began with the eruption of spring beauties and hepaticas--those dainty, lovely, vulnerable starlike white and pinkish and purplish ground huggers making a beautiful carpet as far as the eye could see along the Soot Highway, though this year Soot wasn't here to trot daintily among them on her way to the lower fields and cat adventures of mouse and mole hunting. There have been no proud announcements of the successful capture of a new plaything, eventually a delicious raw,warm bloody meal. No attempts to bring it into the house for a ceremonial presentation. So amid the happiness of discovery of the beautiful harbingers of Spring, I wept.

Soon though my mind moved on as it does when grief lets loose for a bit and the hepaticas and spring beauties were joined by ramps ( I call them wild leeks ) and Dutchmen's britches which I just adore. Bill used the ramps for his famous onion, potato and chorizo breakfast stir fry--I guess he doesn't love the potato-leek soup I always made with the leeks when we had access to the huge bed in Montpelier. Then again there are really not as many here so it would have been a paltry soup.At last, the purple trillium popped through as well.

As Mother nature was bringing on her gardens ours started to bloom as well--the forsythia, which has never been as heavily laden with flowers as those along the railroad heading home to Glens Falls from New York City, was quietly golden on the ridge on the north side of the driveway. The pasque flower, which bloomed well past pasque, was extravagant in its purple and yellow blooms. The irises and lilies as well as the daffies were all several inch tall green spears piercing the wet, brown earth and Mother Pond's chives matched them inch for inch.

As the wild flowers started to fade with one last burst of Bloodroot, the daffies came into full glory. The bed of King Alfred's --a hundred bulbs given us as a wedding present by Bill's Aunt Mabel -- created a sea of molten gold as they have for over 27 years and the mixed daffie bed at the foot of the Soot highway created a mottled white, pale yellow and coral carpet to be cut bit by bit for a series of bouquets gracing my kitchen counter, in the crystal vase given me by my Parisian friend, Josianne, as a house guest gift also over 20 years ago. One thing the cold and damp did accomplish--the life of the forsythia and daffodils was greatly extended. But soon, they too died away to be replaced by the unusually full purple rhododendrons whose beautiful color was only surpassed by the bright yellow and black of the bumblebees that filled them busily gathering nectar and pollen and buzzing up a storm. But now the torrential thunderstorms of the past several days have pelted all the petals to the ground and the bees will need to move on.

But not from our yard--oh, no--for on your right along the driveway, ladies and gentlemen, are the gorgeous lilacs and apple blossoms and blue and pink and white creeping phlox. Just opening and soon to be cut--just a few--some old-fashioned purple lilacs to go in the milk glass vase that was my Mother's and in which she always placed purple lilacs from the huge shrub my sister and I gave her for Mother's day one year. Last I knew it still grows at the base of the flagpole Dad put on our side lawn over 50 years ago. No one will ever get that pole down or the one that holds the mailbox either--Dad cemented those babies in to last forever! LOL

The wonderful serviceberry, high above my head, is now just another green tree and no one who does not know it would ever suspect the huge white blossoms tinged with pink that hung on curved branches encircling the brilliant blue sky and daytime half moon on one of the few sunny glorious days that did come this month. The clematis is leafing out and trying to climb on anything nearby. The blueberry bushes are laden with flowers--hopefully that means a good crop of berries this year, unlike the sparse showing last year. The apple blossoms too seem to indicate a better crop for my deer this winter--don't know what the poor things did this past horrible season.

Last Monday in the freezing, rainy cold Bill and I went and bought plants for the pots we put on the porch. The morning glories--only heavenly blue--the cherry tomatoes,hot peppers, marigolds are in the window boxes we line up along the edge of the porch. He has had peas and onions and leeks and potatoes and carrots and parsnips and radishes in the garden for a long time. The cole crops went in this week.So, the raised beds are looking groomed and some little plants are showing themselves, much to the delight of the woodchucks one of which bought the ranch last week. :(

Today, I will plant my hanging pots of lobelia, portulaca, Hawaiian blue eyes, impatiens. In the large standing pots will go my coleus, petunias. The pansies and butterfly yellow daisies will take their normal place in the half barrels. Wonder if we'll find anymore mousie construction? The birds are taking the strands from our first discovery to build their nests. I saw one enterprising gold finch lady attempting to pull short fibers out of my pot hanger so I'd also better get some building materials out there or my pots will go plop!

Ah, the sun is making a weak showing so I'd better get going. I hear Bill somewhere in the outback trying to mow down the foot high grass. Once we get all the planting and mowing stuff done we will regroup and probably head out to two more greenhouses tomorrow to fill in any gaps in the landscaping, porch and garden. And then more planting.

It is funny how long winter is---there is not as many changes to use to judge the passing of time. But as the ebb and flow of our flowers progress time seems to fly --wasn't it just yesterday I rejoiced in the appearance of the hepatica? And,now, unless you recognize the unique shape of its leaves you'd never know it had ever been. Sort of like us, or our cats. If you didn't know you'd never pick out Soot's Highway or her burial place along her other path that she used to return from her patrolling the estate.

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