I meant to throw these photos in yesterday, but the post got long, and my neck got tired, and you know how all that goes. So I’m going to try out a gallery or two. I’m not sure if I can put different galleries on the same page.
As you will see, our blooms right now consist of the daffodil and hyacinth bulbs, a few pansies we put on the deck, the Lenten Rose powerhorses that have done remarkably well this year, and the beginnings of the bleeding hearts. Those are one of my favorites. You’ll sweet woodruff near the bleeding hearts, it’s a pretty bright green color and will produce a lovely little white blossom.
This is a tiled-mosaic gallery. I had to delete a few pictures and add others to be somewhat satisfied. I don’t know if there is a way to choose exactly where the photos go, so it was trial and error. I would have liked to exchange the large deck picture with the smaller bleeding heart one. You might miss it altogether. If you find it I do hope you’ll click on it to see the bleeding hearts larger. They’re just coming out. Once you’ve clicked on a photo, you can scroll through them all if you want. And I could have used captions, but just got lazy.
The hyacinths are beautiful, but the best part is their fragrance. Arthur thinks so too.
This is a slide show I did with just two photos. I was a little slow at the start-up, but I think I’m really going to like the fairly new galleries at WordPress. Question answered. Yes I can put different galleries into the same post. This may not be news to you, but I am in a remedial blogging class over here.
Have you made it out of winter yet and into spring in your neck of the woods?
My last post about spring was two weeks ago when I was Looking for Signs of Spring.
The tree with the swollen buds outside my kitchen door, is in full bloom. Last year this little tree only had one solitary flower. It’s interesting to note that I photographed and posted about that single bud on March 19th last year. We are nearly a month behind on spring this year. That’s the last time I pay attention to Punxsutawney Phil.
Last year on March 19th, I took a photo of the magical green veil as the leaves in woods begin to unfurl. I called it “an elusive green mist where fairies play.” I’ve been waiting and waiting to see it this year, and the mist has finally arrived. It is rushing forward into full-blown leaves. The trees are trying to make up for lost time.
Here’s a sad part of the story. Last year from my window view as I sat at my desk, this little tree was blooming brightly across the lane on our stretch of property there.
About a month ago, I was sitting here typing as I often am in the morning, and I heard and then saw about 5 or 6 township workers with chain saws working across the lane clearing things out. This wasn’t completely unexpected because the manager had stopped here last fall to talk to us about cutting down a big dead ash tree up on the hill. We own the majority of the hillside, but the township owns the top where there is a small pioneer cemetery that is overgrown for the most part. But as I sat and watched the workers, I saw a man come up to the little tree that was not yet in bloom but beginning to bud. “I hope he’s not going to cut that down,” I said to myself. And no sooner were the words out of my mouth than the deed was done. Some things just don’t have do-overs.
Mark was not a happy camper. He loves his trees.
As you may be able to see from the above photo, there was a LOT of honeysuckle over there.
The workers managed to decimate about half the dense growth over there before Mark and another neighbor put a halt to it, resulting in a half thick, half bare view across the way. We had them finish the removal of the honeysuckle from our property.
But Mark had them mark the small trees they were to leave standing. They had been removing the smaller diameter trees as well as chopping down the honeysuckle. The yellow tags around the trees indicate they are to be removed, the pink means they are to be left alone. Our neighbor had them completely block off his property with yellow tape. Now it looks like some kind of marriage of a crime scene with a used car lot across the lane.
After much to-do, several emails, and a township trustee meeting over there, the township will be replacing our blooming tree that they leveled with a comparable one. Mark marked the place for it so they could check on underground utilities.
Being something of opportunists, with the removal of all the undergrowth, Mark and I went out yesterday and bought then planted a peach tree shown above
and a cherry tree. They are both self-pollinating, which is an interesting idea if you stop and think about it. I’m thrilled about the cherry tree because we grew up with two cherry trees in our back yard. My mom made cherry jelly.
“You won’t be making cherry jelly with these,” Mark said. “We had trees like this at our last house and we never reaped a harvest.”
“I’m going to make cherry pie,” I said, undeterred.
“The birds got all the cherries,” Mark said. “You won’t get any.”
I can taste that cherry pie already.
Meanwhile, a robin kept watch.
“And peach pie too,” I added, “I can’t wait.”
I wake up in the morning and start to cry once more.
“I can’t believe they’re gone.” I manage to choke out between sobs.
He rolls over and wraps his arms around me.
“I’m still here,” he says.
And I cry harder.
I look at him across the breakfast table, his ever-watchful eyes like a monitor on my emotions.
“I feel like an orphan,” I say. “I know I’m old enough to be on my own, but I wasn’t ready for them to be gone.”
His clear blue eyes pierce into mine.
“You still have me,” he says.
“I know,” I say and I nod my head, “I do.”
I face him across a table for two at Easter.
“I feel like a loser sitting in an Italian restaurant on Easter after all the years of Easter egg hunts and family dinners,” I say. “I don’t have a family to celebrate holidays with anymore.”
His blue eyes twinkle with just a slight crinkle in the corners.
“I like spending Easter here with you,” he says.
I smile in return. And I believe him.
Wednesday morning I was stumbling around the kitchen before I managed to ingest my daily dose of caffeine in the form of hot tea which isn’t nearly as potent as the caffeine I used to get in a day’s worth of coffee. Alas, another compromise as I have grown older.
I looked outside and saw a big bird in the trees. Over time I’ve gotten used to finding them amidst the camoflage of the tree branches. They look like a big blob interrupting the natural flow of the branches.
It was a red-tailed hawk.
Our bird feeders have been frequented this winter by a rather bold sharp-shinned hawk who likes to hunt there, but the larger red-tailed hawks don’t come around as much, and when they do, like some of the other more skittish birds, they tend to stay back and within the protection of the woods .
I recently read about the benefits of green smoothies from my blogging friend Marion at Figments of a Dutchess and have been trying them out all week. I poured my green smoothie made with an apple, pear, banana, and spinach, into a large glass and sat down at the table beside Mark. It was an April morning and for some reason the wood ducks we saw last year came to mind. “Do you think the wood ducks will be back this year?” I asked Mark. “I haven’t seen them yet.”
“I saw them yesterday,” Mark replied. Unlike me, Mark doesn’t rush to announce his nature observations to me or the world at large.
“I hope they come back again.”
From my lips to the universe. I looked outside and spotted the female wood duck perched on a sycamore branch.
She and I were both looking all around. I was looking for her mate. I didn’t know at first what she was looking for, but I found out later.
There he was. Just a few trees away, perched on the limb of another sycamore.
You’ll have to take my word for the next part because I wasn’t quick enough to catch a photo. This is not as easy as it looks.
The female duck went into the hole in the sycamore tree. I circled it for you. I was stunned to say the least and not certain. But then I saw a cascade of dried brown leaves shoot out of the hole and flutter down. Then again. I became hopeful. Like the chickadee I told you about earlier, the wood duck was apartment-hunting.
She poked her head out to check out the view from her front porch.
Meanwhile, her mate was waiting patiently.
And then not so patiently as he quacked at her, “Well, make up your mind, Mabel. Do you like it or not. I’m not going to stand here all day.”
She took one more good look around and then darted out of the hole and flew right past her mate who immediately took off and followed behind. Again, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
But that wasn’t the best part. Later in the day a movement through the woods caught my eye. It was a large black bird with striking white stripes on its wings sweeping through the trees. It landed on the trunk of a tall tree near the top and I saw the tell-tale red plummage on the top of its head. I enjoy all the birds I see from the smallest wren to the largest owl or blue-heron, but some birds really thrill me because of the rarity of their visits. And the pileated woodpecker is one. It moves quickly through the trees with a flash of white, landing here and then there. A true wonder to see.
Yet again, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Several months ago I was contacted by Richard von Hippel, author of Not Again: “My body’s a write off but I’m all right.” Richard was putting together an online library of memoirs and invited me to participate. Richard has worked hard at adding content to this site called “Memoirs Only.” I am grateful for his efforts and for including Dancing in Heaven in this library. If you have a minute, I hope you will check it out.
The shadows are long at the start of day
when the earth moves to greet the sun once more.
At the edge of the night filled with dreams and desire
the rays of the sun strike through
and light up the earth
and shine through the leaves
and shoot past the trees.
The shadows are long when day first begins.
By noon they will be gone.
I had a couple of heart burdens to take care of yesterday.
I made what might be the last trip to my parents’ house to accomplish the last few things I needed to do, mostly picking of the last stragglers I plan to keep or return to relatives. Even though the interior of the house looks completely different than when my parents were living there (much furniture and most small items are gone, the walls are all painted, and there is new carpet throughout, all the original artwork from relatives and photographs are off the walls) Mom and Dad’s presence hits me like a punch to my gut when I’m there. And all the memories we made over 33 years fill each room. It’s hard to be there.
It will be hard never being there again.
Fortunately Mark was there with me. He followed me around in silence.
The second heart burden was a trip to the cemetery where I haven’t been since the day of Dad’s funeral with it’s gun salute from the Korean War Veterans. The cemetery is a little over an hour’s drive from home. We planned to make the trip to check on the gravesites and make sure no dead and dried up flower bouquets were still hanging around. We also planned to plant grass.
Although I had dreaded making this trip, the cemetery visit was actually much easier than I had imagined it might be. I don’t feel Mom and Dad’s presence there at all. I have a couple of memories of taking them there to visit Annie’s grave, but their presence does not linger there.
The graves were clean and neat and looked like fresh top soil had recently been applied. Mark walked around on them to test how compacted they were and decided they were not ready for grass seed yet. They still have some settling to do.
The gravestone is shaded in this photo, but you might be able to see that it has not yet been engraved with the death dates. We didn’t know if that was something that was prearranged or if we needed to call someone to do it. We decided to stop by the cemetery office on our way out to find out if and when they planned on seeding the grass, and what we needed to do about the gravestone.
The short answers are that they take care of the grass and will continue to add soil to the graves as it settles over what usually takes about six months. Then they will plant the grass. We need to contact the gravestone provider who will contract an engraver to come out and take care of the stone.
But here’s the bright light in this otherwise rather dull and somewhat gray post. I inquired about little WWII and Korean War marker flags I had seen at grave sites. The man at the office was very friendly and told me the cemetery provided those and they would put one at Dad’s grave since I’d asked. He then proceeded to ask me for the identifying information. I had already explained that both Mom and Dad had died in January.
“Where is this grave exactly?” he asked me. I told him it was near the back corner of the cemetery. It was beside another Smith gravestone of my aunt and uncle’s, and it was a plot with three graves on it. I explained about Annie.
“Now I know which one it is,” he said. “Some of the people who were hanging around after the funeral were talking about your mother. They said she took care of her daughter for a long time.”
“Yes,” I said, “she took care of her for 51 years.”
“She must have been a real gift,” he said. “I couldn’t do that.”
And before I knew it, the words were out of my mouth, “Sure you could,” I said. And then I caught myself and added, “That’s what she would have said. That’s what she always told people who told her that they couldn’t do it.”
“Yes, you could,” Mom always insisted. “Yes you could.”
|Deluxe chalet with garden view||Cozy cottage at wood’s edge||Fun and funky outhouse motif||Nature lovers’ retreat|
We have four apartments for rent in or near the St. Francis Garden. Yesterday a little chickadee was taking advantage of the nice weather and was out doing some apartment hunting.
I think we’re going to have a new tenant soon.
I can see a spot of color from my view outside my kitchen window.
Swollen buds, I don’t know if they are leaves or flowers, are visible on the tree outside our kitchen door.
The cheerful pansies I planted yesterday beckon me outside to look for signs of spring.
I marvel at the contrast between the soft bright color of the pansies as they catch the morning sun, and the barren woods behind with its long shadows.
Mark’s garden below the deck with its freshly turned rich brown soil is a sign of spring. It hides the seeds he planted yesterday. They wait for water and sun, like little parcels of power from which green shoots bearing vegetables will appear.
My St. Francis Garden is showing signs of life shooting forth from the brown dried leaves and stems yet to be cleared away. Perhaps I’ll do that today.
The irises are inching upwards on schedule for their May parade.
Bunches of daffodils are ready to turn, one morning, into a riot of bright yellow.
Soon. Maybe today.
The hyacinths with their sweet, at times piercing, fragrance are preparing to bloom.
The bright spot of color I saw from my kitchen window is in fact daffodils, as I suspect you guessed. The first to bloom. They are the best harbringer of spring in my garden because, unlike tulips which never made it past a few inches of green before being eaten, the deer won’t touch them.
This year I outsmarted the deer. I planted tulips in a pot on our deck. One of two things will happen. The deer will walk up onto my deck, or I will have tulips.
Are you seeing signs of spring?
While sitting at my kitchen table eating dinner yesterday, I thought I saw something moving in my woodland garden.
Even though we cleared a lot of the dense overgrown honeysuckles from the woodland garden since we’ve been here, the deer wears its camoflage well and is not readily visible.
It’s rare for us to see only one deer. The deer that frequent our yard are typically a mother with two fawn, now yearlings.
I spot what I think is a deer lying down through the fence of our neighbor’s yard. I’m not sure, but there may be two deer over there.
You can make at least one out a little bit better in this cropped version of the previous photo, in the upper left corner. The second may be between the visual “v” created by the evergreen tree.
The deer in our garden is nosing around in the clearing we created at the top of the small hill.
Oh. She’s dropping to her knees.
Well, look at that. She’s lying down for a bit of a rest.
She looks quite comfy and content, doesn’t she? Although she’s keeping an eye out for me and the little light that flashes when I shoot a photo from inside the kitchen door.
Aww. She’s sleepy.
Whoops. Something spooked her. See how her ears are perked up?
Never mind. She needs a nap, and this is a good place to take one.
I don’t know how long she slept. When next I checked she was busy pruning my stella doras.
You probably think she’s a nuisance and is in it only for herself. But not me.
I can tell she’s trying to be helpful by the way she systematically nips off the tops of each and every stella dora plant, working her way down the garden.
Who can complain? She’s a sweet little darling.
I’m happy to have her around.