Intervention Lesson #72,329: I’ve been feeding thistle seed for years and run out on occasion without ever having a crisis. This morning, the thistle eaters have emptied a week’s worth of food in two days. By feeding them I’ve made them dependent on that source. Now trees full of fledgling pine siskins are desperate for seed I cannot provide on a Sunday morning in Crawford. The one store where I can get them in less than an hour’s drive doesn’t open until one. It’s ten a.m. I’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel to give them another two tablespoons. After that they must wait til after one.
So much to be done! Everywhere I look there’s no time to observe. Cheatgrass, Poa bulbosa, weeds, weeds, weeds to be removed, eradicated from certain zones, not altogether from the yard. Some with a weed-whacker, some by hand to protect the precious wild onions and the SCLI, which blooms in dainty yellow waves from the east side of the yard rolling through the fence into the woods. Schoenocrambe linifolia is a native mustard also known as skeleton mustard. The nickname SCLI comes from the botanical convention of combining the first two letters of the scientific name; if there are more than one plant with the same combination, they are named with a number following, for example PEPU7, another lovely yellow native plant whose bloom time has not yet come this season. I learned all this from my dear departed friend Gretchen Van Reyper, an enthusiastic plant expert who used to come every spring for a wildflower walk at least once, and regale me with the proper names for every plant we encountered. Yes, there were a lot! I have only retained about half of what she taught me, and with her now permanently gone, never to walk this way again, the knowledge both inspires and saddens me.
The tiniest blue penstemons have opened, yesterday just buds, this morning tiny blue and purple corollas dazzle. Stanleya is up a foot high, five offspring from the original which I finally uprooted last year after it died, and one giant specimen that has crept up to abut the sagebrush. Golden currant moves from clusters of yellow blooms to approaching berries. The first Little Doctor columbine bud has appeared, the other blue penstemons are either in bud or beginning to bloom, pink penstemons are shooting up stalks, sturdy European pasqueflower continues to bloom and now spiky seedheads nod above the deep purple flowers. The first callirhoe blossom has opened, the vibrant crabapple has faded to soft pink as green leaves overtake the blooms.
And the bees and bugs are back in full abundance with the flowers: