Orangetip butterflies were out in numbers today feeding on little purple mustards and the first rockrose to bloom.
March came in like a lion with cold and snow. All the young bucks were grazing at my place.
No sooner had I assembled the bluebird house that Jean sent, and hung it onto the south fence…
… than a flock of western bluebirds descended! Whether a pair chooses to occupy the house remains to be seen.
The valley is filled with smoke; everyone is clearing fields with fire. Plumes rise in all directions, some thin, some billowing. At home I bravely burn the ornamental grasses. After years of cutting through the old stalks, usually too late to avoid nipping new growth, I finally realized I could fold the tops in on themselves and light a match.
Within days this pillow of cinders began to green up again.
Little purple irises came and went without benefit of bees. It took me all month to realize how depressed I am about the loss of the hive.
I rescued the first little lizard of the year from inside a friend’s house.
And Gabrielle found the first frog of the year while turning a vegetable bed, a western chorus frog.
We moved him to the pond…
The first tulip opened last week.
Then one more, then some more…
Tiny pockets of beauty are emerging as the garden greens this spring, exquisite groupings I couldn’t have planned.
All the little pockets of pasqueflower growing at different rates, budding blooming expanding.
Honeybees have found the apricot tree, and I look at them differently. They’re not my bees; they’re the bees that preceded and competed with my bees, and they’re the bees that ultimately brought the disease that killed my bees. They’re beautiful, they’re stoic bees, they’re chemically treated bees.
I ran into a friend at the grocery store yesterday who told me that the beehives across the canyon have had mites for years. “They’re too close to you,” she said. It was cold comfort, a theory validated that suggested once and for all it wasn’t my fault. It’s been bleak watching flowers open one by one with no honeybees to pollinate them. Until two days ago I’d only seen an occasional bee; finally, a handful in the apricot tree. Then yesterday more, and bumblebees, and tiny wild bees. As they return I feel more and more alive.
I guess I despaired of finding the same joy in photography as I did last year with my bees. And in a strange way, my pleasure is tainted knowing they’re not my bees… still, they’re bees, they’re sturdy hardy bees that are surviving, and that brings with it a more astringent joy than the wallowing I was doing the past three summers, that first inebriated love that lasts a few years before something goes awry and love becomes a choice to share in suffering.
Honeybees back on the sweet smelling almond tree.
I remember last year forsythia covered in snow. This spring how it glows brilliant yellow and grows tall in full bloom.
The first leaf and flower buds of chokecherries and other trees and shrubs are opening.
Redwing blackbirds sing in symphony around the pond. I sit silent, eyes closed, losing myself in their beautiful cacophony.
Each morning for weeks this flicker has greeted me, drumming on the roof cap and shrilling to the sky, calling for a mate, claiming his terrain. Oddly, the first time I heard him drilling on the roof, it put me right to sleep. I’d been tossing and turning, then recognized that startling staccato. It somehow signaled some security, and my body just let go, softened into the sheets, and fell back to sleep.
A sweet spring snow came down in fat round flakes, coating everything.
The tower beds are ready for planting, one half of the big third coming up garlic and the other half I don’t know, I’ll have to check the book; the second third calendula, the happy orange flower that blooms profusely. I didn’t want to cut them back at first, Katrina made me. “You’ll see,” she said, and she was right, as she so often is about these growing things. Calendula is prolific in this one patch and as long as it continues to self-sow I welcome it. And the third third, what did we choose to do with it? I don’t know. I’ll have to check the book. Thank god for keeping records. Planting time approaches.
Chris came and weed-whacked last year’s good grasses gone to seed so they can scatter and regrow, spread; and took to the ground some nasty bad grass. I guess the bad grass is not the worst thing in the world to cover some of this ground. There are things I’d far prefer, though, like the purple mustards that are moving in; I just need to keep the bad grass down. And afterwards, a sweet spring snow followed by a hint of rain. All the grass has grown inches in the few days since it was cut. The roller-coaster approaches the first crest. All I want to do is be outside and work in the garden, stay ahead of the weeds and the bad grass. My focus is consumed by the tasks ahead. And the Stardog stands on his head then lies on his back in the wet grass and wags his tail at me. He knows where my energy goes. He follows its direction and when it veers too far from him he comes nearby and does something unbearably cute.
Just a handful of dried rosehips remain on the canes. Tiny green buds begin to peek out. Maybe I will increase my apricot crop this year threefold or fivefold, from two to six or ten, maybe even twenty, who knows. The tree so recently laden with fertile flowers flocked with honeybees is now a haggard brown. A few blossoms remain in every stage of opening from tight white ovals through barely open to full-on bloom. Maybe I’ll have a few apricots after all. Maybe we all will.
The almond blossoms appear to have been protected from the freeze.
The almond on the other hand looks like most of its blooms have survived. There are a few brown, many wide open, many in bud and some wilting, perhaps from the natural course of things. Tiny green leaf buds emerge in shoots from the tips of all the twigs. The dormant winter apple buds begin to swell, and the first jonquil releases its paper shell. Hardy red tulips and royal purple pasqueflower bloom even after snow; these flowers bloom in sequence, ramping up. The forsythia didn’t suffer too much from the freeze, up against the west side of the house.
Jonquil buds in snow Monday are closer to opening today.
No time for a proper dog walk tonight, but I open the gate and let them run into the woods. I want to be a dog for whom going is its own reward. When I step out into the leech field full of winterfat, I can see the sunset. It just takes stepping out the east gate and I can see the glorious sunset to the west, peach and violet, light blue, and yellow-tinted white.
The river runs full and red yesterday through Paonia.
Welcoming snowmelt, roaring down to fill reservoirs and bigger rivers.
Going with the flow.
More found time this morning. A phrase I’ve recently become quite fond of. All week I’ve been finding time, or being given found time, which is more accurate I think. A gift from the universe in this peculiar spring; three appointments were canceled last week, giving me hours more time for my devotions. Time added to my days.
This morning, one neighbor planned to come over at ten and pick up some boxes for a yard sale and another was to pick me up at eleven to drive over and look at my fields across the canyon, make plans for him to harrow or mark or do whatever spring maintenance is needed in order for hay to grow bountifully. We awoke a little after eight, when Rocky wanted out; he was prescient. Half an hour later when I had to get up, the rain was starting and the big dogs wouldn’t leave the door. I fed the cat and went back to bed for the half hour until I could give him his shot.
Our new normal. Each morning Brat Farrar gets homemade, raw food, weighed in grams; half an hour later I give him an insulin shot. Half an hour longer, more or less, and I take away any food he didn’t eat, weigh it, do the math, and record how much he ate. We are doing science. The goal of the calculations, and weekly blood draws to measure sugar, is to bring the kitty back into balance. Beautiful Brat Farrar, my special special cat. Always so fragile and timid.
My rancher neighbor called before I was up for real as rain poured down outside in sideways sheets. “I think we should go over and look at those fields now, don’tcha think?” My first belly-laugh of the day. We postponed it til tomorrow. I postponed the yard-sale neighbor as well and settled in for a day of quiet introspection.
Change is afoot in the neighborhood, as the road crew carves a new curve before paving the county road.
Forsythia fills the window where I park at Small Potatoes Farm to pick up the week’s bread from the brick oven bakery.
Snow blew down in spirals, an inch in an hour, fat wet giant flakes like daisies spinning from above. After a cup of coffee and a melt-in-your-mouth, gluten-free, ginger-pecan scone from the Brick Oven Bakery, I turned my attention to my neglected kitchen.
Tulips in snow, this fleeting bittersweet beauty. A friend in sunny Florida fights for her life.
This afternoon, I continue cleaning the deepest recesses of the house; I finally accomplished the pantry last week, the mudroom yesterday, and today, that hell-hole corner cupboard left of the sink. With small cardboard boxes salvaged from the recycle pile stacked yesterday, and colorful duct tape, I made small bins for daily cleaners, rarely used cleaners, oils and waxes, dusting all the containers and washing down the cupboard boards before implementing the new organization. I feel desperate to reduce clutter and mess in my life. I believe this ties in with my overall health as it gradually improves. On every level, bringing my life into balance in this season of upheaval.
A candle for Karla.
Before the cleaning frenzy began, I turned on the Found Music and lit candles in loving ritual for friends and family gone, going, or in duress. I’ve spent the day in wholesome cleansing and reflection. For the first time in months I have the energy to tackle a winter-dirty house full of seasons of clutter. Motivated by the music library serendipitously shared by a friend, tunes and artists that I mostly don’t know but songs which suit my endeavor, I move through the day lightly despite the heavy weather.
Through snowy almond blossoms…
… the apricot is also covered. I watch it all day through the window as snow melts and blossoms show pink, then watch it get covered again. Each blooming tree a singular gift of changing beauty.
Snow tapered off in the afternoon. During a break we got out to run around the yard and fill the bird feeders (the dogs the one, and I the other), check the rain gauge, feed a friend’s cat. A cacophony of finches in the feeder trees. How many is that? Practical math: If you add .40 inches of warm water to the slush in the rain gauge and swish it around til it’s all liquid, then pour it back into the measuring tube and have .68 inches of water, what is the water content of the snow so far today?
This evening white rain pelts down again, a hybrid snow and rain that isn’t quite sleet and definitely not hail. Or maybe tiny, tiny hail. I light a fire in the woodstove and prepare a meal, leftover salmon mixed into salad with fresh chives and basil from pots in the sunroom, on a bed of chopped baby spinach and arugula with a ginger/sherry vinaigrette. On the side, one half a Brick Oven garlic bagel toasted, with butter, cream cheese, and thinly sliced farm-fresh red onion. Oh the way we eat around here.
Tonight I’ll decant the kefir I made from kefir grains that Touffic gave me and start a new batch with the organic milk in the fridge. A new way to get probiotics, from an heirloom strain passed on through community like sourdough starter. Bread and yogurt will be the next new staples on my homemade journey.
“You look great,” said Deb when she came to pick up Rocky around three. “What have you been doing?”
Adding gratitude, finding time, subtracting dirt, losing burdens, measuring snow. Practical math. “Rejuvenating,” I said. “Choosing Life.”
Mary holds a margarita.
Every day takes learnin’ all over again how to fuckin’ live. ~ Calamity Jane
Drawn or spooked from its daytime lair by the sprinkler, sphinx moth visits early morning at hardy plumbago.
Things fall apart. We know that. Not nearly as popular in literature is the equally valid theme that Things Pile On. More work, more play, more food, more deep reflection. More witnessing to the wonder of Creation. My religion is Life. To all the living things! So much has happened in the garden in just this one week.
The first Sunday in Fall. True autumn has arrived. I know it by the hardy plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides.
A carpet of bright blue flowers, red seeds, and glossy green leaves makes this harbinger of autumn a sweet surprise each year.
The first fall I’ve had here in years. I will fall into Autumn gently, a single leaf, twisting, settling, to ground.
The leek flower continues to move toward seed.
“Look what you’ve done here!” someone says to me. “Look what you’ve done with the water you move, from place to place, bed to bed, shrub to tree. Look what you’ve done here, moving water randomly.”
I feel congratulated. I feel blessed. I feel comprehended. Every day, every day the garden gives me something. Whether I’m there to receive it or not. Every day this garden gives: a new beauty, a new insight, a new manifestation of divine light.
All at once the almonds cracked open on the tree. Almost all of them!
Friday evening I gathered them, and husked them.
They gave up their seeds to me, split fruit yielding shielded nuggets.
Saturday morning I shelled them, revealing tender thin-skinned meats, moist and milky with a delicate crunch.
All morning I keep finding almond husks beneath my feet. Chipmunks are finding the last few nuts, too high for me to reach.
Finally, not for the faint of heart: I caught sight of a grasshopper on the pepper, thought it was two hooked up. But no! I stopped my grabbing hand in time and ran for the camera.
It took awhile.
Eventually the mantis was replete.
And my most exciting predator prey encounter of the summer (so far) was complete.