April 23, 2011


Multiflora rose mowed down! April 27, 2011

That forest canopy closed just like that. Spring beauties are on their last flower or so, and just as well because here come the lawn mowers. Trout lily is long (week or 2?) in seed and the foliage beginning to bleach out. Mayapple is beginning to flower. Long spurred violet, showy orchis... saw a tulip tree flower bud on the forest floor.

All the birds are here...the warblers I can't see or ID by song. An acquaintance recently said, "Birding by ear. When I started there was no such thing. There were so many birds around, wasn't necessary... war stories...I see rare bird sightings posted online and I think, 'That's rare?'."

I don't know when he got his start in birding, but frankly, even if was a while ago, it's less than a generation. Boy, I'm still waiting for that Kentucky warbler that went missing a couple years ago to come back. To quote my spouse, "Come on people, stop f***ing up." In this case, I mean, stop f***ing up the habitat.

I do suspect that last year's Baltimore oriole is back to defend his territory. I recognize his song.

Eastern phoebe is nesting on the house and it is a great joy to watch them hunt.

A bear visited our feeder (empty) a week ago. Jared saw him in the middle of the night, but the time I got up - the bear was gone. I admit to feeling nervous.

As a rule, I am respectfully cautious of large animals. Bears are different. Bears are like people. Just something about them.
Japanese honeysuckle on blooming spicebush. Some had been cut last year, some remains, climbing up the branches.

I watch the dried and bleached foliage of young American beech rattle, shake free, and fly, finally. Leaves like a warbler fallout. The curves of the Sourlands, those that I observe from my porch while hanging laundry - are beginning to grow bristly scales of trout lily leaves. Tulip trees, light lovers they are, have opened their buds. Sedges, woodland and meadow, pierce through last year's duff or thatch.

Spring, yes, spring is here at last. With its odd hot day, rushing the Callery pear's stinky blooms open, and giving me a sunburn, sending ticks racing up the sides of my son's playpen... I'm not ready for these things.

In winter, especially this winter, so snowy and icy, with so many cold nights, me shuffling to the bathroom after a diaper change or nursing, guzzling a glass of water or eating a yogurt at some odd hour, 12:30 AM, 2:30 AM, 4:30 AM, flicking on the porch light each time, still snowing, power is still on, hours are still passing, snowing yet, I so looked forward to spring.

And, now I have a child to show this world to, sharing its secrets. Now, I have to alter my language, find new ways, better ways to talk about plants, the land, people... No more "This g*d* multiflora rose is everywhere." "I hate that Callery pear." I'll have to find new ways to tell the truth, share my thoughts, begin with good thoughts, and allow my son to have his own. It's a good exercise for a naturalist.

A back corner of our yard, from left to right, a brief tour beginning the forest: The bendy tulip tree/home to a squirrel family, the understory of multiflora rose, the new exclosure for the woodland garden, the yet uninhabited nest box, the metal, hanging birdfeeder (visited by a bear? knocked off the fence, feeder separated from the chain...also found a big, up-turned rock nearby...). Now back to the left: the flowering dogwood in the fence hoop, the horno, new small garden spot with little bluestem, lowbush blueberry and columbine, and finally a big wet, chunk of maple that we used as a splitting stump - well on the way to becoming soil.

Spring / Disgusting Home Office / Best Heats Oil / Space Junk

Meanwhile, spring is here - hermit thrush fallout on Saturday, rue anemone is blooming, bloodroot is unfurling, heard a black throated blue warbler & towhee call, robins are fighting and a bluebird is diving right into the fray (too close to the bluebird box?), and ticks are about.

***

As I write, I take in globs of my lunch, a Malaysian recipe with a rural new Jersey spirit: venison, peas, and carrots in coconut milk with lemon grass and chilis. The Pyrex leftovers dish balances on my knee and the keyboard wrist pad. My posture is terrible, my digestion about the same as I sit hunched and twisted. No doubt there are others on similar style working lunches.

This is the disgusting home office. Very convenient, I can follow my instincts at home. A bit of food falls on my sleeve... what would you do? Get up and retrieve a napkin from the kitchen? Allow a precious second to be wasted in transit? Or, use your mouth as a wet vac?

***

This morning I put Jared's Wednesday morning stewardship volunteer clothes in the laundry. He and Jim take a volunteer group onto a nature preserve and rip away at the invasive plants with chainsaws and loppers. His clothes reek of 2-cycle engine oil. Unfortunately, the Trader Joe's brand of laundry soap I purchased for $3.99 plus tax also reeks of 2-cycle engine oil. The finely rendered aroma must come from one part "with lavender essential oils" as the label claims and 99 parts petroleum-based fragrance. At least it's "pH balanced" for someone's water. Regardless, the entire basement smells like the "Best Heats Oil"/"Oil Heats Best" (you have to drive it to know what I mean) section of the New Jersey Turnpike with a drop of (lavender) crude.

***

I also disassembled the Eureka Pet Lovers vacuum cleaner to clean the canister and filter. I'm not sure what else to say but space junk is everywhere these days. Debris in outer space, debris in my space, taking up space. This vacuum is for Pet Lovers, not gardeners with a woodstove that vacuum once a month. I need a vacuum to vacuum out my vacuum.
One month ago today

Spring is coming -

Two days hard labor in the garden
Indoors chillier than out
Walked outside coatless, I was comfortable
Took my son outside as is, he was comfortable
Basal rosettes of goldenrod and bristly aster, green and robust
Blue jays have left the feeder, the little birds stay on
Red-winged blackbirds at the feeder
Raven overhead!
Flocks of blackbirds, Canada geese, and snow geese
Mud, mud, mud
Return of the greenhouse - sprouting arugula, carrots, beets, chard, parsley
Cilantro holds on nicely, no wonder it is never around for salsa time - it's a cold season crop
The window is open

Spring into summer


The telephone pole above the meadow in which elderberry and water hemlock bloom, wild geranium jester seedpods ripen and explode, and common yellow throats call.

Early spring has long passed. Ephemerals are in seed and fading. Spring peepers are quiet, replaced with the calls of grey tree frogs and bullfrogs. Midspring - marked by warbler calls and sightings (we saw a mourning warbler in the hemlock and a Blackburnian warbler in the catbird cave in the week before we went to the Catskills - the week of May 9th) - has passed also.

The heat has settled in, alternating with rains that temporarily break the heat and humidity. First broods have hatched (chickadees), caterpillars are obvious (definite tussock moth), fireflies are an evening display (especially over the meadow below the garden), and strawberries are done. Our cold-hearty greens went to seed incredibly fast (no problem, we were sick of them after eating them from our greenhouse this winter). Heat rash, depressed appetite, tick bites, dehydration, increased demand for fruit.

Blueberries are ripening. We've each eaten one apiece of low and highbush blueberries. A sharp-beaked bird enjoyed a plump, squat reddish-green blueberry. It's time to stop procrastinating on the chickenwire blueberry hoops.