Archive | March 2014

About Buffaloberry and Fracking Ads

Zooming out a little to show the relative density of bees on the silver buffaloberry yesterday.

Zooming out a little to show the relative density of bees on the silver buffaloberry yesterday.

Today it’s windy and cold, with brief spells of sunshine. Too windy for me to be outside, and way too windy to try and photograph anything. Rain and snow are predicted. Biko is out in his roundpen in case I have to dash out and bring him in quickly; sometimes the catahoulas don’t always find him fast enough for my liking, especially in inclement weather. Deborah gave them giant beef bones which they’ve been working on all day in the yard, and now I see them out the window licking their chops. I think Raven has buried hers and now stolen Stellar’s. She is such a bad, clever dog.

The first forsythia flowers are opening today. The golden currant and Siberian honeysuckle begin to leaf out, and the wild rose shows tiny red leaf buds. Mountain ash is sprouting in new places while the standing stems have yet to start leafing. All the penstemon rosettes are filling out, and each day, rain, snow or shine, more and more of the garden comes alive. This morning I harvested a colander full of arugula and look forward to a salad of it made with parmesan and walnuts, olive oil, and red wine and balsamic vinegars.

Meanwhile, I’ve spent the midday researching all the other insects I discovered on the buffaloberry. So after a little more from the honeybees, here are some other flying species.

See how this bud is half open and PollenFace bee seems to be probing inside the flower before it's fully open?

See how this bud is half open and PollenFace bee seems to be probing inside the flower before it’s fully open?

If you look closely at this you can see pollen spraying out from the cracked bud that Pollen Pants is working on.

If you look closely at this you can see pollen spraying out from the cracked bud that Pollen Pants is working on.

This particular paper wasp, Polistes dominula, is a European native first discovered in Massachusetts in 1980 which has since spread nationwide, displacing native species.

But first, a clarification: This particular paper wasp, Polistes dominula, is a European native first discovered in Massachusetts in 1980 which has since spread nationwide, displacing native species.

Probably a mason bee in the genus Osmia, available here in both native and non-native species. I'm thinking this is a native; they nest in pre-existing tunnels in wood, and can be encouraged with houses made of paper straws, cardboard tubes, or holes drilled in a block of wood.

Probably a mason bee in the genus Osmia, available here in both native and non-native species. I’m thinking this is a native; they nest in pre-existing tunnels in wood, and can be encouraged with houses made of paper straws, cardboard tubes, or holes drilled in a block of wood.

A greenbottle fly, possibly Neomyia cornicina, a common Palearctic species introduced to the "new world" with cattle, in whose dung it breeds. Such a pretty thing!

A greenbottle fly, possibly Neomyia cornicina, a common Palearctic species introduced to the “new world” with cattle, in whose dung it breeds. Such a pretty thing!

Also a greenbottle fly...

Also a greenbottle fly…

Another possible greenbottle fly, but I can't find an image quite like this in my research. Isn't it cute, though? I love that little round hairy face with the droopy accessories.

Another possible greenbottle fly, but I can’t find an image quite like this in my research. Isn’t it cute, though? I love that little round hairy face with the droopy accessories.

I don't know. Maybe a cluster fly? It looks different than the cutie above. So many species within each genus, so many genera, so many families of flies. I give up. Any ideas, Neighbor Fred?

I don’t know. Maybe a cluster fly? It looks different than the cutie above. So many species within each genus, so many genera, so many families of flies. I give up. Any ideas, Neighbor Fred? Or anyone else?

Finally, while I don’t often speak directly to viewers, something came up this morning that distressed me, and I’d like your help in understanding it. A friend wrote to alert me that when she visited this page from the link on my Facebook wall, she encountered a pro-Fracking ad at the bottom of the post. Are you seeing ads? If so, what are they for? If you could please comment here, or email me, or tell me on FB, what time you looked and what ad you saw, I’d be grateful. I noticed some months ago a message at the bottom of my posts stating that “some viewers may occasionally see an ad here,” but I never saw one so I didn’t think WordPress was posting ads on my blog. Why would they? It’s not like I’ve got a hundred followers. Then this morning Peggy wrote that she saw a fracking ad, and I was horrified. A Gardeners’ Supply ad or Sierra Club, maybe, but Fracking? 

The values in this blog are the antithesis of fracking. I don’t often spout political or activist rhetoric on here because my goal is largely to celebrate the beauty, wonder, and fragility of nature. I hope to inspire people to love pollinators, reptiles, trees, and the rest of nature as much as I do; I hope to brighten someone’s day with a beautiful image or two. I live off the grid with a high-mileage car which I use as little as possible. I do not support extractive energy in general, and pray daily that the leaders of our world will show concern for our planet and move toward renewable energy, will show compassion for all creatures human and non-human, and act accordingly in their debates and policies. Maybe WordPress put a fracking ad on my blog because I live in an area where our community has been fighting desperately to protect our agricultural valley from fracking for years now. Maybe it was that simple. Or maybe Someone noticed the content of this blog, and chose to put a fracking ad on it to suggest that I, an avid nature lover, also condone fracking. I take deep offense at this particular ad being associated with my ideals, and consider it sabotage of my freedom of expression.

I looked into the WordPress ad-free upgrade, and attempted to purchase it for $30 a year, so that you won’t be exposed to ads at all, and so that the integrity of my creative efforts on behalf of the natural world will not be compromised. I was unable to purchase only the ad-free upgrade, finding an upgrade bundle costing $79 to be my only option. Lacking the perspicacity to figure out how to get only what I wanted to pay for, I have communicated with WordPress support and inquired politely if they will please help me resolve this situation. I trust that I will hear back from them within a few days and be able to pursue the ad-free option. Until that time, please keep me informed of the time and content of any ads that you see on this blog, and know that I have not approved their messages.

Also, go outside and hug a tree, or watch a bee, or kiss a frog. I wish you a lovely, nature-loving day. Thank you for taking the time to look at Morning Rounds.

Let what is lost now be found

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It being Tuesday, it’s only fitting to acknowledge St. Anthony with the prayer that Amy taught me: St. Anthony please come around, let what is lost now be found. She told me years ago that he is the patron saint of finding lost things, and Tuesday is the day to make your plea. I found the bees! I am so pleased. Some of them are surely venturing farther afield, but a new flower is opening in the garden, tiny clusters of blooms on the silver buffaloberry, and the tree is buzzing with bees. Not just honeybees, but a few wasps, flies, and wild bees as well. I planted this near-native multi-trunked tree years ago, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it bloom. Last year I pruned it back hard for the first time, after deer had broken a lot of its spiny branches scraping their antlers. And this year, rich rewards. What’s most interesting to me is that the bees are not feeding on the open blooms, but digging into the partially opened buds prying them open with their front feet, as if to be first to the riches.

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and sharing!

and sharing!

Also, not sharing. Just before I snapped this, the wasp and a honeybee had a brief dispute about who got this cluster.

Also, not sharing. Just before I snapped this, the wasp and a honeybee had a brief dispute about who got this cluster.

As the little irises start to fade and their leaves to grow long, the honeybees have left them to the wasps.

As the little irises start to fade and their leaves to grow long, the honeybees have left them to the wasps.

Bees and wasps were not the only treasures I found in the garden this week. Cynthia gave me some irises last fall when she thinned her burgeoning stock, and said they’d be fine left outside over winter. I’ve been looking all over for them for weeks, outside and inside, so I could get them in the ground, but nowhere could I find the black plastic pot I’d set them in to overwinter. I began to wonder if I’d actually planted them in the fall. The other day, I found them. Duh. Not in a black plastic pot at all, but in an open grocery bag inside a basket, up against the house wall where I’d passed it a dozen times a day. Oh the tricks that memory plays! I trimmed them and split them up and planted them yesterday afternoon, in an unsuccessful vegetable bed I’ve decided to dedicate to flowers.

Redwing blackbirds have been singing by the pond for weeks.

Redwing blackbirds have been singing by the pond for weeks.

Something about this western scrub jay makes me think it's a recent hatching, which with our relatively mild late winter this year seems possible.

Something about this western scrub jay makes me think it’s a recent hatching, which with our relatively mild late winter this year seems possible.

 

 

 

 

Finger-combing

Lambs' ears filling in around the crocus patch.

Lambs’ ears filling in around the crocus patch.

Finger-combing. I love it. I love the word, and I love doing it in the garden. I can’t remember when I first learned the concept. I’m sure it had to do with hair, finger-combing hair when a brush or comb was not at hand. I learned years ago it’s the best way to freshen lambs’ ears in the garden, and it’s so much fun! With loose wrists and spread fingers you just sweep through the old dead leaves and they fly off the plant and scatter around it, revealing the tough-though-tender-looking new green leaves. I’ve always waited until spring to “cut back” the lambs’ ears so that I can finger-comb them instead of try to trim them with clippers.

One advantage to leaving most of the fall cleanup until spring is it turns out there are a lot of other plants you can finger-comb instead of clip, because the dry stalks or stems have softened just enough to break off easily. So you save your arthritic thumbs the work of squeezing clippers, and engage your whole hand, both of them in fact, in the more tactile experience of finger-combing. Other plants that respond well to finger-combing are partridge-feather, silver horehound, all those low-growing fuzzy-leaved plants similar to lambs’ ears, and anything else whose stems aren’t too woody. I spent much of my gardening time this week finger-combing grasses, gallardia, poppy mallow, and even the pond plants.

Partridge feather with miniature irises and the hunk of petrified wood that June Stewart, my landlady in Jensen, Utah, twenty-five years ago, gave me.

Partridge feather with miniature irises and the hunk of petrified wood that June Stewart, my landlady in Jensen, Utah, gave me twenty-five years ago.

Curly rushes, cattails, and water iris, a mess after winter, benefited from finger-combing yesterday.

Curly rushes, cattails, and water iris, a mess after winter, benefited from finger-combing yesterday.

Finger-combing the pond plants revealed the goldfishes' favorite hiding place, but something unusual was going on...

Finger-combing the pond plants revealed the goldfishes’ favorite hiding place, but something unusual was going on… A Goldfish Vigil, apparently.

... A Goldfish Vigil.

The Snowfish lay dying on her side on the pond floor, as her cohorts and spawn all hovered over her.

I am inordinately fond of my goldfish. I may have mentioned this before. Five years ago I bought eight feeder-fish for 28 cents each at the pet store, and settled them into the pond. Four of them died within the first week, but the other four have thrived, and founded a colony of generations of spawn. I named the originals, Snowfish, Lou (after the saleslady who kindly let me pick each of the eight), Finn (also white but with an orange spot at the base of his tail fin), and AmytheFish, the little red-haired girl, after my childhood friend who told me the fastest way to kill a goldfish was to name it. AmytheFish has defied the odds, as have her companions. Snowfish is the first of these originals to meet her demise, but she leaves Snowfish Junior and a handful of other snow-white fish behind to take her place.

At least one new generation a year shows up first as tiny grey fry an inch or less long. Many of these feed frogs or snakes or salamanders, or indeed even their progenitors, but always a few survive. Over a period of time, the grey fry grow into their colors, mostly orange, but some white, some black and orange (the Halloweens, which usually lose their black eventually), and some orange and white, like Snout, and Snout Junior, who each are all orange with a white, of course, snout. This year, I think a couple of the Halloweens may keep their black, also, and add a new variety to the gene pool, as they’ve exceeded the size when most of them lose their black. Ridiculous, I say, that I should be so invested in these little creatures. But I am, and so I was sad yesterday to see Snowfish lying on her side when I finger-combed the rushes. Then this afternoon, when I went to the pond to meditate, I noticed that Lou, Finn, Snout, and dozens of smaller fish, were all hovering over Snowfish, as though sitting vigil with her as she transitioned. It was very moving. Despite the possibility that I instantly recognized that they might just be waiting for her to die so they could begin feasting on her flesh. Oh well. Either way, an interesting phenomenon.

Meanwhile, AmytheFish swam alone at the far end of the pond, alone in her grief perhaps, or just because.

Meanwhile, AmytheFish swam alone at the far end of the pond, alone in her grief perhaps, or maybe just because.

This week I removed the insulation panels from the beehive, extending their doorway a couple of inches on each side, and revealing the propolis they laid down to seal the winter doorway (upper left). Also shown in the center, a propolis track along which, with the winter door in place, the bees came in and out.

This week I removed the insulation panels from the beehive, extending their doorway a couple of inches on each side, and revealing the propolis they laid down to seal the winter doorway (upper left). Also shown in the center, a propolis track along which, with the winter door in place, the bees came in and out.

All the bees I’ve photographed so far this spring have been new bees, evidenced by their pristine unbattered wings. Back in early February, there was a great buzz of activity around the hive door which I noticed in passing. This was during the worst of my dizzy-head, and so I didn’t pay too much attention. It never occurred to me that they might be swarming that early. I’ve since learned that indeed they could have swarmed in February, and I wonder if they did. The line they constructed  might have been an indicator for the new bees, much like the mound these bees built when they first arrived in the hive nearly two years ago; I noticed then that they crawled over the mound and spent some time on it leaving and returning to the hive. Then after awhile, some bees did that while others zoomed straight out and straight in. Presumably as the bees became familiar with the hive and the course in and out they no longer needed the marker mound. I think this line served the same purpose. Within a few days after removing the winter panels, the bees had removed the line, and are now using the corner of the door again. Amazing.

Leaving and returning

Leaving and returning.

But where are they going? Several new patches of irises have opened, but bee visits to them have tapered off. This bee is drinking from between flowers on the narrow-leaved irises, the last of the four varieties to open.

But where are they going? Several new patches of irises have opened, but bee visits to them have tapered off. This bee is drinking from between flowers on the narrow-leaved irises, the last of the four varieties to open.

The next flower to bloom, European pasque-flower, opened just three days ago, and so far I've not caught any bees on it.

The next flower to bloom, European pasque-flower, opened just three days ago, and so far I’ve not caught any bees on it. There are a few more patches, and I hope the bees or someone will discover them as they continue to bloom.

But where are the bees going? They come and go from the hive at a great rate, many straight east into the woods. They must have found a new source of food; perhaps some wildflowers are beginning to open.

But where are the bees going? They come and go from the hive at a great rate, many straight east into the woods. They must have found a new source of food; perhaps some wildflowers are beginning to open.

So the dogs and I explore the forest, looking and listening for bees.

So the dogs and I explore the forest, looking and listening for bees.

But finding mostly only the splendid juniper trees.

But finding mostly only the splendid juniper trees.

And with the advent of Spring, Ice Canyon begins to melt. Winter's splendor gives way to the joy of Spring.

And with the advent of Spring, Ice Canyon begins to melt. Winter’s splendor gives way to the joy of Spring.

 

 

 

 

Another Day, Another Blossom

The blue miniature irises began opening today, and the bees were all over them. My goal this summer is to photograph honeybees on each variety of flower in the garden as it begins to bloom.

The blue miniature irises began opening today, and the bees were all over them. My goal this summer is to photograph honeybees on each variety of flower in the garden as it begins to bloom.

The flies have also found the flowers.

The flies have also found the flowers.

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Crowded crocuses.

Crowded crocuses.

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As more bees emerge from the hive, it seems competition for the hottest flower increases. At one point today there were five bees on one blue iris. I had the speed too slow to get them all in focus, but caught four at once, though barely.

As more bees emerge from the hive, it seems competition for the hottest flower increases. At one point today there were five bees on one blue iris. I had the speed too slow to get them all in focus, but caught four at once, though barely.

And the shot of the day, sharing bees and a fly.

And the shot of the day, sharing bees and a fly.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A different angle on the Survivor, at about 800 years one of the oldest trees in the forest, which lies on its side toppled, sawn halfway through, and still lives. Morning walks take us out earlier and farther each day.

A different angle on the Survivor, at about 800 years one of the oldest trees in the forest, which lies on its side toppled, sawn halfway through, and still lives. Morning walks take us out earlier and farther each day.

Still cold in the morning, our walks are easier now on frozen mud. Later, ten or eleven, it’s cool, almost chilly in the breeze, with a beautiful bluebird sky; I spotted the first mountain bluebird yesterday, heard sandhill cranes two days before that.

Holding tight to the walking stick this time.

Holding tight to the walking stick this time.

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A new batch of crocuses and the miniature yellow irises have opened and been discovered by the bees. Only three have bloomed so far, another three in bud, another half dozen popping up. The bulbs face a threat from the dogs who use this bed as part of their winter playground once all the mounded groundcovers have died back. Grape hyacinth foliage is coming up, snow-in-summer beginning to green. Does it have a crawling habit? How likely is it to spread? Don’t step on the buds of spring! Remember? Not only the dogs but I am trampling them now as I survey and clean up the bed. So many sweet things all coming up together, little clumps, loosening, pushing up dirt, sprawling and spreading thymes, time to cut back.

Arugula thriving, spinach coming, cilantro sprouting in the hoop house!

Arugula thriving, spinach coming, cilantro sprouting in the hoop house!

I can’t stop thinking of what seeds I want to get. And making a list of thing I want to accomplish in the garden this summer. Oh! It daunts me as I look around before I even begin it—and a new flower is open! The other purple iris, with the narrow leaves, and a bee in it. Here we go with the camera again.

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Biko crossing the crocus patch. Why?

Biko crossing the crocus patch. Why?

To get to the other side!

To get to the other side!

I’m retraining the dogs to “Find tur-tell!” with Biko out loose in the yard for the first time today. A treat pouch around my waist and a few bounding trips to tag the tortoise, and they’ve got the hang of it again.

Raven

Raven

Stellar

Stellar

Two hundred and one shots dumped into the computer; all I need is one. Seamlessly flowing into song, All I need is one, all I need is one, where did this come from, something you’ve heard, something you know, or something unknown? The song in my head opens up and flows out when I’m in the garden. Finding my voice.

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I go outside and fill up the camera again, only 34 shots left on the card, photographing bees on crocus and miniature iris, last night’s frost melted to glistening drops they are drinking—there it went again, the big thing! something three times the size of a honeybee, some kind of wasp? Rufous hint to the wings, longish body—learning how to see, so much of photographing is learning how to see—I follow the big thing as it zigs low through the air, landing here and there and lifting off before I can catch it, until yes, I see, it’s a small butterfly! I can’t get close enough to catch it with the camera, it’s too wary, so I stop stalking it.

And so, I wander the yard, 34 images left, and Stellar lies down, rolls flat on his back as he never could do in his youth, his back was so bowed from what? I shoot six of him. 28 shots left. Here it comes, the shot I’ve been waiting for, four shots left, all I need is one, and when it came I forgot, shifted focus at the last second and lost two, but in the end, I got my one.

But not quite, and so I clear the camera and go again.

While I stand by my lament of two weeks ago, I have regained my joy in living. It was not lost but temporarily overwhelmed by a despair which, were I not to feel it deep inside and own it, I would consider myself numb, dead to the world. Even though I expressed my deepest sorrow and frustration from the darkest part of me, I have regained my joy in living. I am thrilling today in the hours-long practice of seeking and ultimately achieving this one image:

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The Turning

Mud season. Is it early this year, or is this just a precursor phase? Stellar's track.

Mud season. Is it early this year, or is this just a precursor phase? Stellar’s track.

Last week's sprouts that I thought were daffodils were miniature irises, which started to open day before yesterday.

Last week’s sprouts that I thought were daffodils are miniature irises, which started to open just yesterday. A bee!

Yes, winter will stick around overlapping with spring as it always does, but March has come like the lamb to us despite its leonine attacks on other parts of the country. Our walk through the woods this morning is chilly, but through the course of it the grey clouds part and blue sky returns with dappled sunshine. The lichens and mosses of Buck Canyon glow in their incandescent glory, lush from snowmelt, rain, and slightly warmer temperatures, from the littlest patches to the biggest.

A small patch of moss at the base of a little galleta grass.

A small patch of moss at the base of a little galleta grass.

A large swath of moss on the north side of several trees.

A large swath of moss on the north side of several trees.

"Massed moss protonemata" grow like green felt on an old juniper, intersperse with yellow lichens. This young thin layer of moss might grow up to be a clump if it develops stems and leaves.

“Massed moss protonemata” grow like green felt on an old juniper, intersperse with yellow lichens. This young thin layer of moss might grow up to be a clump if it develops stems and leaves.

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Last week, before the big melting, when walks even midday were crisp and cold, I walked routes through the woods I would never otherwise traverse, wandering on and off trails, crossing on top of crusted pillows of snow, over prickly pear cactus slumbering in vast patches underneath, over fragile cryptobiotic soils where a footprint at the wrong time of year could last a hundred more. Bright green mosses also pillowed the north sides of many trees, lime, chartreuse, in dappled sun, vigorous with snowmelt nourishing their minute single-celled leaves.

Not only prickly pears but claret cup cactus spend their winters under snow, this one just emerging from its pillow.

Not only prickly pears but claret cup cactus spend their winters under snow, this one just emerging from its pillow.

With more snow melted this week, more mosses and lichens revealed, the forest is a riot of color I wish I could wear. Walking last summer through the woods with a friend, he said when he sees those pillows of moss he just wants to go curl up on them and sleep. I can see that. But now, when they’re so vivid, I just want to make them my wardrobe.

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Dogs at the rim watching for signs of life below; Ice Canyon starts to melt.

Dogs at the rim watching for signs of life below; Ice Canyon starts to melt.

Enticed by lichens I crept to the canyon’s edge despite this vestigial imbalance, so improved that I walked today with a single walking stick instead of ski poles. Bending to catch a particular shot, the stick slipped from my hand and dropped through the crevice to the ground below the rim. Navigating my way down unstable stone steps to the scree slope, I groped along the layered cliff thirty or forty feet back to retrieve the stick, and looked up at the outcrop where the dogs often stand and I have stood only once or twice before.

It’s a different world down there, but I’ll delve into those mysteries when I have more time to spend there. Unsteady as I was I chose to pick up the stick and return to my proper level atop the rim. But I climbed back up slowly, smitten with all the gleaming lichens along the way, all revealed by the melting and thriving with this nourishing rain, all so muted when they’re dry.

Shot one of three while the walking stick slipped away.

Shot one of three while the walking stick slipped away.

Shot two of three...

Shot two of three…

Shot three, just as the stick slipped away.

Shot three, just as the stick slipped away.

From underneath the ledge, picking up the stick. Bearlike!

From underneath the ledge, picking up the stick. Bearlike!

Climbing back up the staggered stones.

Climbing back up the staggered stones.

Changing my imaginary lens gives a different cast to the lichens. This one represents the orange more accurately, while the previous imaginary lens represents the greens better.

Changing my imaginary lens gives a different cast to the lichens. This one represents the orange more accurately, while the previous imaginary lens represents the greens better.

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A broken twig from mountain mahogany, itself covered in lichens with one last autumn leaf.

A broken twig from mountain mahogany, itself covered in lichens with one last autumn leaf.

(Wednesday: It’s been a week of slow and busy healing. It’s been a busy week for the garden itself which is throwing up iris leaves and bulb sprouts and tiny green rosettes of all kinds of flowers and weeds. And for me, despite continued dizziness, my ability to function is improving and the temptation of warm sunny days, the beckoning cleanup from last fall left undone before the snowfall, and the hint of more snow to come tomorrow has kept me pushing my limits, of mobility, balance and focus.

The redwing blackbirds sing in the trees around the pond. Ornamental clump grasses, green from inside, it’s time to cut back all of last years stalks and seed heads and scatter them where I hope to see more grow. New green grass stems are already so tall in the dry stalks I’ll have to cut them too; it would be best to cut these grasses back before new shoots have started, maybe in January. But in January they were buried!

I burned a slash pile started last fall and tarped, though wet and smoky, has burned nearly down. I’ve scavenged the yard for more loose brush, stems, and still not satisfied I started to prune small, dead, thick and tangled twigs and branches from the last untamed juniper in the yard. It’s taken a long time for me to get motivated to burn this pile, but today is the perfect day; a mild intermittent breeze, snow or rain expected tomorrow, ground wet or frozen all around, peach tree and squawbush nearby not yet wakened into bud.

Smoke floating across the yard and through the woods, filtering between the trees below the tops of junipers might look alarming to the neighbors, but they know, most of them, this time of year, such smoke is most likely exactly what this is, and not a house afire.

Once I start burning I can’t stop. It’s like the next unknown curve in the trail, just one more! I’ll turn around after the next curve… no, after the next curve. Just one more handful of dried sagebrush, just one more cutback herb, just one or two more limbs of this juniper. Those burn down, I throw on another handful, another. Finally, I’ve had enough of staggering around the yard, bending, standing, dodging smoke. Finally, I let the pile burn down to a smolder and walk away, confident that the moisture in the landscape will quickly absorb any tiny spark that might blow away. Between snows in winter is definitely the time to burn.)

And finally, the biggest reward of all for the patience of winter, the first crocus in bloom!

And finally, the biggest reward of all for the patience of winter, the first crocus in bloom!

I came in this morning after our mossy, lichenous walk, renewed and content, breakfasted, meditated, and stepped outside again for a breath of fresh sunshiny air to check on the garden. At last! The bees have been out scouting on warm days for weeks, and so far no flowers for them to feed on. But this morning, their intrepid explorations have been rewarded at last! The tiny crocus patch, half overgrown with lambs’ ear, is buzzing, and so is the cluster of miniature purple iris, one, three, five bees at once exploring the corollas, flinging pollen everywhere, delirious in their satisfaction, and so am I. I broke out the big camera: my season has begun.

Delirious bee.

Delirious bee.