Emerging

The back area of our lot abuts part of a wildlife sanctuary. It’s a sort of wing or peninsula off of the main property that juts up into our street; it’s a few house lots deep. Just big enough to provide privacy and the comfort that no one will build behind our old house.

The cherry, maples, oaks, and a few hickory trees do an excellent job of shading that back part of my yard and my neighbors’. Unfortunately, they are frustrated lawn makers and fight a non-winnable battle against the shade. Being it’s a sanctuary, they have little chance of seeing enough trees removed that their lawns would thrive. Within months of buying the property, I conceded the victory to the woods. I’ve never been a big fan of lawns anyway.

My kids started digging a pond, and I began planting native plants tolerant of the partial and deep shade that we had there. Each year I add a few plants as I find appropriate species in the catalogs and nurseries that cater to those looking for native plants. So it’s not unusual that I pace spring by the emergence of springtime plants and flowers. This year I discovered that my photographic collection is detailed enough from past springs that I could state that we were over a week behind last spring in my tiny neck of the woods.

So what’s emerging today, April tenth?

The petal-less flowers of the Spicebush are swollen but not open. Last year they were in “bloom” on April first. Preparing for later bloom are:

  • Trillium – the first trillium leaves have popped up,  
  • Wood Phlox has sprouted. 
  • Anenome fringed leaves are showing.
  • The bronze and green leaves of Trout Lily are on display.
  • The leaves of Canadian Ginger got caught in yesterday’s hail storm, but they should still do well. The Canadian Ginger has a lovely little flower that hides beneath its leaves.

I’ll be checking daily now for the blooms. However, some of these plants, like the Trout Lily, are ephemeral – the plants disappear not too long after they bloom. So, if you want to catch them, you have to observe them daily.

I know many who look at me and say, “Spring in New England? You’re nuts!” But in many ways, it’s the best one. You just have to be patient.

Spicebush
Spicebush
Anemone
Anemone
Trout Lily
Trout Lily
Canadian Ginger
Canadian Ginger
Woods Phlox

Waiting

The problem with anticipation is not allowing it to keep you waiting. You know the frustration you get while a vital computer program is updating or reinstalling, or while you wait for the basement workshop ( in my case) to warm enough for you actually to get that resawing done? If you are not personally vested in the process, others tend to get reproachful of your anxiety attacks.

I know because I have a wife, three live-at-home kids, and a cat who all wish that I’d get on with something else while waiting. Perhaps go to the carving shop, also freezing, or out to the garden, which is currently part of a howling early spring wilderness. At last, I put on a sweater, coat and drive off to a big box store to look at seed displays, tools, and lumber.

I’m all set on seeds, the tools they have don’t tempt me, and I have a shed full of lumber. So I’m at the big box store to browse, say high to the staff, pet the dogs out supervising their humans on the trip and get my pedometer revved up for the day.

According to the weather forecast, a warming trend starts this afternoon. So I am going home where the garden calls to me, the litter in the yard howls to get picked up, and the cat demands to do her rounds in the garden. The Tomato seedlings are due to be potted up, lettuce needs seeding inside, and of course, those small cherry logs need resawing.

It seems you can quickly turn from anticipation to needing to winnow the necessary tasks into something you can achieve.

Conceit

Every year, I delude myself that this is the year that it will all be different. I become an eager recruit to the conceit that I will keep control of the weeds, that by August, they will not tower over the vegetable raised beds, and the manifold glories of a well-kept and productive garden will be mine.

Dream on, beautiful dreamer. Sometime near the end of July, we’ll either go on a mini-vacation, work will get intense, or a commission in the shop will occupy my attention. At that moment, the weeds will leap into reproductive and vegetative super production. The paths between beds will erupt in non-edible greenery and, at last, spread to the bases of the squash.

One day, I’ll come to the garden and realize that the weeds are waving in the late August breeze, tall and triumphant. Yes, I’ll say that the garden is wildly productive despite the weeds. But the weeds won again.

However, it’s spring, and I’m allowed a few conceits. This will be the year that I keep control of the weeds.

Flashback Friday – Pint XXV

I’m posting this as part of Fandango’s Flashback Friday. Originally published on April 2 of last year:

I sealed Pint XXV shut last night, and that marked the close of another sapping season for the little sugarbush behind our house. Just a bit over three gallons of syrup, enough for family needs.
This morning the dog, cat, and I went out to survey the slow opening of spring in our tiny woodland garden. Hepatica, still not quite in bloom, trout lily slowly emerging from last fall’s leaves.
The opening of the maple buds and chorus of peepers marked the end of sapping, while the slow progress of the plants that we call spring ephemerals began the opening of the next phase of spring.

After the cat gets settled into her spot in my greenhouse workshop, and the dog wanders off to harass some early chipmunks, I settle down to woodcarving while listening to the radio.

Ice Out

My friends from points south look at me like I’m crazed. ” Ice Out comin’ soon!” Huh? “Ice out!” The look I get is one of pure pity. Those crazed New Englanders…so depressed by their winter that they’ll seize on any slight sign of spring. OK, it is true that south of New England, they don’t get excited at tiny flowers in the brown woodlands. Their lush southern springs explode with green and colored blooms—they kind of smile condescendingly at our northern spring.
But that’s because they haven’t been to a full-tilt boogie Ice Out Party.
It is true. Here in New England, spring can be a bit dour. So we have to make up for it. What is an ice-out party? Lots of hard cider, local beer, friends and neighbors, and an icy pond where the ice has finally broken up.
Mind you, I said, broken up, not disappeared. After enough cider and beer, dancing, and food, some fool begins to strip and runs out to the pond. The proper technique is to holler at the top of your lungs and take the plunge. Once one is in the water the lemmings, I mean other party-goers, discard parkas, anoraks, and other winter accouterments and begin to frolic like polar bears. The rest of us stay warm by a fire and cheer them on. If this is done right, sometimes at about two AM, the local police or constabulary show up and disparage the public nudity and general rowdiness. The following day everyone feels braced for the last several lousy weeks of New England spring before things finally warm-up, and everyone can put away their heavy woolens and L.L.Bean jackets.
New England Spring – it ain’t for the faint of heart. And you thought Mardi Gras was wild!

Fast

There is only about a week between the little Dutchman’s Breeches and the Trout Lilly. Its Spring in New England and time gets compressed. One day the Maples are flowering and making me sneeze. Then the next, I see the tree is full of small leaves.

I walk around every morning. My Bloodroot blossoms are almost gone by, but my Goldenseal is beginning. New England spring is not extravagant. Miss something today, and it’ll be a year before you see it again. Don’t waste time; Spring is fast.

Pint XXV

I sealed Pint XXV shut last night, and that marked the close of another sapping season for the little sugarbush behind our house. Just a bit over three gallons of syrup, enough for family needs.
This morning the dog, cat, and I went out to survey the slow opening of spring in our tiny woodland garden. Hepatica, still not quite in bloom, trout lily slowly emerging from last fall’s leaves.
The opening of the maple buds and chorus of peepers marked the end of sapping, while the slow progress of the plants that we call spring ephemerals began the opening of the next phase of spring.

Xenia settles down for a day of supervising in the workshop


After the cat gets settled into her spot in my greenhouse workshop, and the dog wanders off to harass some early chipmunks, I settle down to woodcarving while listening to the radio.

%d bloggers like this: