In Birdland the showy spring flowers are already fading.
The quince, just yesterday so full of white blossoms it looked like a snowstorm hit, now is full of wrinkled, tea-colored crepe.
The peaches have swapped their delicate, pink petals for green, furry marbles. The branches are so full that I'll have to pick some before they grow too big, or the branches will surely break with the growing fruit.
After losing last spring's entire crop of peaches to a late frost, this is a good problem to have.
The forsythia has traded its bush of sunshine for green leaves, but we will soon have yellow again because I went around behind the lilac bush and saw that Grandma's yellow rose is full of buds. These last only a few days, but they will be fragrant and bright.
Now comes the sweet rocket, luxurious bouquets on every stem, not quite purple, almost pink, bouncing in the wind. Horseradish answers with its shock of white florets, echoing the sweet rocket in shape, like a bridal veil to the bridesmaid pinks. Both are in the cruciferea family (cabbage, broccoli, radish, mustard) with bunches of four petaled flowers.
Look closely and you'll see six stamens in the center of each flower. Four are long, two are short. Rain swells the peony buds to tight golf balls, ready to burst forth in pink, white, magenta and burgundy.
Perhaps this year we'll see what color I brought back from Nancy's yard in Indianapolis one fall, a few years ago. We had a digging party, but she couldn't remember the shade the blossoms would be, and we couldn't tell by the roots.
The iris sends stately stems skyward, and petals unfurl in different colors. For years we only had my grandmother's delicate, faded purple, with the soft, powdery fragrance, but a few years ago I started adding colors, from buttery yellow to a deep purple, almost black.
This parade of flowers continues, and I can already imagine the shasta daisies that are now in buds that will come, just as the sweet rocket is fading.
And yet, with all these, Michael has brought home foxglove to honor my eldest son.
My fiance (my husband by the time you read these words) thinks we can never have too many flowers, and brings home flats of trays and 6-inch buckets. Together, we will plant these to border the walk to the chicken coop.
For this week, our days are filled with projects — organizing and cleaning, with some modest carpentry, too — to make Birdland ready for our gathering of family and friends.
I pull china and books off shelves and vacuum the thick dust — almost a pelt behind some of the china on the high shelves — while Michael scrapes grout from the shower, replacing some tiles. We have indoor chores and outdoor chores, items to get rid of to make way for fresh beginnings.
As we sweep away the dust, may we sweep away misunderstandings and regrets.
As we clean the windows, may we open up our lives to the sunshine and warmth of friendship and the fresh breezes of laughter.
As we rearrange furniture, let us open our hearts and minds to fresh ideas.
As we put up tents and hang hammocks for the party, may we create comfort for each other, for our children, offer shelter for our family and community.
As we string lights in the trees, may we illuminate our hearts and souls, that we may appreciate the good in each other, and see our faults by the generous light of love.
Live in beauty; love in peace; blessed be.
Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland with her once and future husband, Michael, and their son, Ellis. She wants to thank her family for helping to celebrate the wedding and wishes her new husband a very happy birthday. You can read more of her writings at http://www.letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. Mary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.