Letter from Birdland: Activity in gardens starting to pick up
In Birdland, we had another afternoon thunderstorm that lured me into my cozy bed for a nap. Falling asleep to the crashing of thunder and rain on the windows is comforting, despite the drama in the sky.
I rarely sleep with my hearing aids, but I left them in just for this. I awoke refreshed, 20 minutes later, to an overcast sky and a rain-slicked yard and took a walk around to survey the gardens. I won't need to water anything tonight.
I always get my vegetables planted late and have some tiny, brave tomato plants in the garden coop. Seedlings are emerging, but I can't remember exactly what I planted. Plenty of cruciferous vegetables, like cabbages, arugula and radishes, but also beets and chard. I put them not in rows, but spread them out in beds. I walked over to the garden coop and saw cucumber shoots reaching upward. Beans, too. I planted both of those on the edge so they can climb the chicken wire.
A few weeks back we had a very strange occurrence for the summer: a week without anything blooming. I'm not even sure that this happened last summer, when we were stuck in a seemingly endless drought. I think the flowers were smaller last year, but they were there.
After the peonies and the horseradish and the poppies and the sweet rocket and the roses and the irises faded, the yard was strangely quiet. Nothing was blooming. But then the day lilies sent out their green bean buds and then popped out like firecrackers.
I filled two big vases. The flowers will close every night and shrivel up, but new buds will open every morning. Day lilies may be all we have by way of flowers right now, but they are abundant. We augment the bouquets with the giant sinuous leaf of horseradish — just a few leaves provide a lovely green backdrop to the orange display, and a cattail — the same color as the day lilies' stamens, the fuzzy tales of cat echoing the deep dusty brown in the center of the flowers.
Fireflies have quietly returned, and every evening we see them rising silently from the bean fields. They make our evenings sparkle and dance.
Sitting quietly in the Adirondack chairs at dusk brings special gifts: the slow grazing of deer as they emerge from the meadow and head toward the sunset, the gentle secret code of crickets, frogs (in sound) and fireflies (in light) each with the same message: "Here I am! Come and join me!" We see the erratic flight of bats as they gobble up the mosquitoes.
This damp spring makes a bountiful crop of mosquitoes and ticks — too bad the bats don't eat the ticks as well. This show is available to us any evening, but we miss it often enough. How can we remember to take the time to sit and receive it?
Maybe we should schedule it on the calendar, like we would if we'd bought tickets to a concert. "Tuesday, 7 p.m. Musical Light Show. Don't be late."
The day lilies won't be alone for long. Here comes the yucca, from the spiny cluster of sharp leaves rises what looks like a huge Asparagus. It gets taller, taller, taller and then opens into a branching candelabra of white bells that tinkle gently in the wind. My imagination supplies the gentle music.
The mullein is coming, too. It begins the spring with a soft rosette of furry leaves that grows larger and taller, finally sending out a fuzzy bud like a tiny pine tree on top. This will soon shoot up with a thick stalk branching like a saguaro cactus. From that stalk will emerge yellow flowers. You can't see the resemblance in the petals, but like the snapdragon, it's a member of the foxglove family.
Whenever I find a mullein plant growing in the yard, I transplant it to the edge of my backyard path. They are biennial, and now I think they're seeding themselves because I find more and more near my path. It's funny what grows when you encourage it.
Plant beauty; harvest peace; blessed be.
Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is interested in all the cycles of life, in the universe and in her own backyard. You can read more of her writings and see photos of Birdland at http://www.letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. Mary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.