Thursday, April 25, 2013

Uphill Climb to Spring

Meadow anemones kissed by rain.
It's not really supposed to get down to 25 degrees F. in late April -- even in northeast Kansas. Sure, we can get mildly freezing temps, even after the average last frost date (it's only an average, not a rule, after all). But 25?

Yet that's what the forecast said for Tuesday night. Bah! Humbug! When will it really be spring?

I trundled out sheets, blankets, buckets and tubs to put over broccoli and those gorgeous tulips. I hunkered down and waited. It seemed interminable. My heart was heavy. So beautiful and green outside. I imagined that the next scene would be one of devastation, everything singed and brown...


On Wednesday morning, with sunlight streaming, I looked out upon a beautiful, green landscape. Nothing seemed to have felt the touch of freezing temps. I removed all the protective contraptions and the gardens returned to business as usual. Sigh of relief.

Today promises to be another gorgeous day, full of sunshine and even warmer than yesterday.

So why am I sitting inside typing on my computer?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Seeking Balance

The mint is popping up, regardless of the chilly, cloudy days. My daily teas (excuse me, tisanes) are now made with fresh herbs from the garden. Current favorite, dried nettles with fresh sage and rosemary.
Nature always seeks a balance.

Prey animal populations surge; predators move in.

We have two years of heat and drought, with one exceptionally early spring; and then we get a cold, cloudy, damp spring with everything progressing at a slow pace.

The lungwort likes the damp, cool weather.
Balance does not mean everything is smooth and upright at all times. To maintain balance we wobble, at least in miniscule ways. When I do the yoga pose "tree," I might look steady and firm, but all my muscles are constantly adjusting and readjusting.

So, to maintain balance, we adjust.

And this spring, Nature seems to be adjusting and readjusting.

April, so far, has been chilly, dark and damp. I am grateful for the damp. However, I certainly would like to see a bit of sun and warm weather. Plants need those things to grow, too. But, we did just finish two extremely dry and hot years. So far, the rain has not entirely obliterated "drought." Only the continuation of rain into the summer will do that.

Last year, all of the spring flowers seemed to bloom early and all at once. This year, they are a bit delayed and following their normal progression: first snowdrops and crocus, then daffodils, grape hyacinths and creeping phlox, then tulips. The dampness brightens and highlights the green surrounding us. And, yes, we've had to start mowing.

My confidence in planting the cole crops in late March, with minimal protection, was ill-founded. I am set to replace the green cabbages with a six-pack from the nursery. Everything else will eventually snap out of it, but things did get a little burned by some freezing temps.

Right on schedule (that's a bit of sarcasm, folks) the peach trees have burst into full bloom, just in time for the frosty weather tonight and tomorrow night. It's up to the attic for the strings of big Christmas tree lights, which I will hang today sometime in between showers. And/or I will cover the trees with sheets and blankets to hold in what little heat might be sitting among the branches. That will be tricky. Exactly what makes me think the wind won't defeat all my efforts?

With the clouds and chill and damp, I am not sure who is out pollinating the blossoms, anyway. So it might be a moot point.

Typically, I'd be considering setting out my tomato plants in a week or two, as well as planting beans. Well, that ain't gonna happen.
The meadow anemone diminished during the past two dry seasons, but should flourish and rebound this year.
In September or October, I looked forward to lighting the first fire of the season in our wood burning stove. It seemed so cozy and cheerful. By now I've tired of the mess, wood bits everywhere and ash floating around. I look forward to shoveling out the ash from the last fire of the season. It could be a while. On Tuesday, I brought more wood from the outdoor stacks up into the woodshed next to the house.

I adjust.

Winter isn't letting go easily, yet the weather is gradually warming. The freezing temps will be only just so (29 and 31 are the forecast lows... at the present time.) I might be looking at frosty nights into May, not typical here. I'll deal with it. I'll spend a bit more time indoors working on my writing projects, or attacking the pile of projects stacked next to the sewing machine -- all those things that get neglected when I am focused outdoors.

Balance. I wobble, and adjust. That's how it works.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Teaspoon of Bees

Warm sunny days bring out the honeybees.

Especially when you offer something sweet.

Tea in the woods -- with honey. Lay a honey-coated spoon on the table and  create a puddle of honey.

Well, you can lick off the spoon. So she did. But we still had a puddle of honey on the table.

One bee showed up, walking through the puddle of sunshine-sweetness. After cleaning herself of the sticky mess, she flew off, danced a happy dance at the hive.

A few more bees showed up.

Then a few more...

They enjoyed the orange peels, too...

and more and more...

...and even more...

In 20 or 30 minutes, the entire puddle was gone and they went after the thin coating of honey still on the spoon, even cramming their heads under the spoon trying to get every last molecule.

What a treasure this was for them. Actual finished honey that they would not have to spend the time drying down. Better than the nectar from the nearby spring blossoms.

It was a joyous afternoon watching the bees. So sweet.