Letter from Birdland | Flowers have started putting on a show

Letter from Birdland | Flowers have started putting on a show

It's hot in Birdland, and we're looking for rain. Michael mowed a little plot in the corner meadow last week. My husband helps me with my vision of a winding path through prairie plants and flowers, and now we're working on a vegetable patch in the middle of it.

I've planted the tomatoes our friend Brian gave me, with some pumpkins, cucumbers and squash. We water this kitchen garden at night, letting the moisture sink into the soil in the cool of the evening. I hope watering at night cuts down on evaporation. The last rain we got was over a week ago, and when I went out afterward to plant, the moisture was only about 3 inches deep before my spade hit dry soil.

While waiting for rain, the flowers open. The white lilies that surround the aviary are suddenly blooming. And two different species of tall, elegant stalks have suddenly put forth flowers: Hollyhocks, mostly pink, with their showy flowers emerging from the buds that button up the tall stem; and mullein, with its velvety leaves and fat, forked stalk crowned with small, yellow flowers, like a wreath. Both plants begin low to the ground but send up a central stalk reaching for the sun, like children reaching for their mothers' embrace.

In the pond, a lily bud has been teasing us for weeks, floating just below the surface, waiting. Yesterday, Michael called me with his usual, "come quick." I grumbled (good naturedly, I hope) about the interruption, as he led me outside. There in the pond, floating amongst the lily pads, the flower had finally opened. It is a blushing pink with golden stamens and opens with the sun each morning. Just now, still shaded by the maple, it is beginning to unfold. In a few hours, when the sun shines broadly on the water, it will open wide, like a father welcoming his children.

Our farmers' market opened on Thursday, and I was prepared. I finally got my routine down: get some cash in my wallet and wait to go to the grocery until after I see what vegetables and fruits the market has to offer. I don't want to buy double. This week, I came away with cucumbers, zucchini, spinach and tomatoes.

The pollination celebration was in full swing, and I bought a swamp milkweed to plant in a sunny spot next to the pond. Maybe next week I will buy some meat. There were offerings of lamb, chicken and beef.

The farmers market' is a great place to run into friends, and my dear neighbors, Megan and Steve, were there with their children. I hope we will soon be able to buy flowers from their farm, Backyard Beauty.

I told Steve it was my first visit to the farmers' market this year, and he laughed and told me that this was opening day. I'm glad I didn't miss any. I was curious about other markets, so I went to localharvest.org and typed in my ZIP code to search. I found quite a few within driving distance. What markets are near you?

Driving home last night, I saw a fox and stopped the car. It was about to go into a culvert under a driveway but thought the better of it when it saw me watching. It was long-legged with a slender body and extra-large ears, tipped with black. We regarded each other for a while. It took a few steps closer, sniffing the air, but seemed ready to bolt. It stepped again toward the culvert, where I was pretty sure it lived, maybe with a nest of kits, but then wavered, taking a few steps toward me again.

Dusk was falling. I rolled down my window, wondering if this was the fox who has recently decimated our flock of chickens. Trotting would get it to Birdland in a few short minutes. We've been keeping the chickens penned up for the past week, and they are getting a bit bored, but we're down to three hens and two roosters, and I don't want to take any more chances.

The fox turned back toward its culvert and almost went in, wavering at the last minute to run off through the backyards of the little neighborhood. I drove on.

Embrace beauty; call for peace; blessed be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She believes that families belong together. You can see pictures of the hollyhocks, mullein and water lily on Instagram (@BirdlandLetters) and Twitter (@BirdlandLetters). Mary can be reached at letterfrombirdland@gmail.com or via snail mail care of this newspaper.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (2):Environment, Pets