The calendar tells me that it will soon officially be summer. The thermometer says it is here and has been for a week. The refreshing chill of the morning is history, it seems. I miss needing long sleeves first thing in the morning. My world, so drab not too long ago, is now a contest of greens – each plant is trying to out-green the other. This is about as green as it gets – the end of May. It does not take long for the heat of the summer to dry things up, coat the leaves with dust and make folks grateful for their air-conditioners. I have a love/hate relationship with my air conditioner. I am grateful for the comfort it brings, but I hate to have to use it. I long for my Pocono summers and dream of the Maine island summers of my youth. I have been so fortunate to have spent my summers sampling the climates of many different areas. How lucky is that?
The desert areas of Turkey are about to go back to being deserts. They have been blooming like crazy this year, so I have been told. It is a long, long time since I lived in Turkey, a long time since I saw the beauty of the desert in the spring. Interestingly, I did not mind the dry heat at all, so different from the stifling humidity here. The normally dead looking brown earth gets covered in blankets of beautiful colors and delicious fragrances. If you have never had a bit of desert experience, you don’t know what you’ve missed. Ok, backing up – I am not talking about what my father called “the serious desert,” the sand deserts, the huge blowing, shifting dunes, but the miles and miles of “scrub or barren” land, land that looks like it would not grow anything most of the year… land with cactus, sage, the tumbling tumbleweed type of landscape. Oh, but that month in the spring, sometimes it lasts a bit longer, but that month of awesome flowering, of color, is a month of pure magic.
Here, far from the desert, the air is heavy in the morning with fragrances from so many sources. A visitor once said it felt like you had to push your way thru the sweetness in the air just to get to the car. We have magnolias in bloom, honeysuckle, and the locust trees are just finishing. Even holly trees are fragrant during most of May as they pollinate and make new holly berries. The air is also heavy with the sounds of birds, baby birds begging to be fed, parents fighting to protect their nests, robber birds like crows scouting around to steal eggs or even unguarded babies. Then there are the grackles, the noisy, noisy grackles squawking at each other in the mulberry trees, bragging about what ever grackles brag about – or perhaps they are complaining. Is that what it is? Their noise sometimes grates on my nerves; I hate to admit it.
The grass is wet with dew; strings of pearls hang from the bushes as the spiders wait for breakfast to blunder by. My shoes get soaked as I wander thru the yard in the morning looking at all the beauty around me… late peonies, irises, roses. Even the honeysuckle, a truly invasive “weed” in most cases, is beautiful in the early morning light. Delicate. Beyond fragrant.
The Mountain Laurel has been blooming. I am always amazed that it has survived another year. Friends laugh as I have brought rocks from PA to put around them to make them feel more at home. (We have NO naturally occurring rocks here on the shore. But you can now buy them at garden centers!)
The garden is coming along. The bees are having a good time with all the flowers on the squash, zucchini and cucumbers. I spotted my first cukes of the year this morning – about the size of a kosher dill. They will be ready to pick later this week. I have my first tiny tomatoes, not much bigger than a pea, but there they are. I can almost taste them. I ate my first homegrown lettuce the other day. Best salad I ever had! And we cooked MY peas for supper. I wonder why that gives me such a high!
I guess it is good that having this garden does give me a high, because the work is almost too much sometimes. But I keep in mind the fun of going out and picking enough beans for dinner. And then picking beans (or cukes, or tomatoes) to share with others. And folks covet my produce. They know I do not use any chemicals – no pesticides, ever!
This morning, when I opened the back door, can of Tuna in my hand for Punkie and Spook, I was hit with the almost over powering scent of almost summer. I had to walk out into the yard and just breathe the smells in. I thought of folks in cities who breathe in the fumes of vehicles, exhaust, garbage, that tarry smell of black top in the sun… I thought about the sounds that they hear as I listened to my birds fussing, begging, or just singing their morning songs. Are they thanking their idea of god for another day? Did someone just say thanks for the drink in the bird bath out in the yard?
Then I heard another noise… a soft leaf rustling sound and the snapping of tiny branches. I quietly walked out a bit further. There was a doe standing on her hind legs pulling a branch down from the mulberry tree, chomping down as many berries as she could while the birds fussed at her for eating all their berries – like there isn’t a whole tree full? Or maybe even several trees? The mulberry trees are so heavy with berries this year, I actually had to cut some branches off where they were hanging down into my garden. I stood there, barely breathing, glad the wind was blowing in my direction watching the doe eat when I noticed movement closer to the ground. She had her fawn with her. At first I thought it was my cat, Punkin … no wait, it WAS Punkin, oh where is my camera when I need it! Punkin sat there and watched the doe eating from the tree, the fawn eating (?) the berries that had fallen to the ground.
The bad news is that this year’s new supply of mosquitoes has arrived. I am SOOOOO allergic to bug bites. I hate using sprays, but I pay a huge price. Yesterday, I tried working out in the yard in long pants and a long sleeved shirt. I didn’t last very long. I had to wait until around 7 to go back and cut grass and finish my chores.
It is hard to believe that there is still over 100 inches of snow on the ground in some mountainous areas out west. From my CoCoRaHS coordinator this morning:
As of a few days ago we still had some CoCoRaHS volunteers with snow
left on the ground. Two of our stations in CA, where snowfall had been
so great that it buried residential power lines, still had over 100" of
snow remaining on the ground earlier this week. Here in Colorado we're
waiting for the warm weather to finally arrive and when it does later
this week -- look out. We have huge amounts of snow left in our
mountains -- from 25 to as much as 90 inches of snow water equivalent
(SWE) still up on the slopes in the northern portion of our state --
much, much more than usual. With the sun nearly overhead and the summer
solstice right around the corner, the snow will be melting fast (1-2" of
SWE per day when it gets warm) and the rivers surging.
Friends out in the Midwest can’t even get into their gardens – the land is just too soggy.
Here on the Shore, we are in a state of moderate drought. We don’t need the floods others have been having, but we sure could use some rain. Go figure. How is your garden growing? Still have snow? Is your garden under water? Or do you have to go out there and water every day?