Friday, May 30, 2014

My Iris

The iris are almost all gone and it is not yet June.  Summer came for about four days last week and then rains and spring returned to find only the last blossoms of the iris hanging on.  My greedy soul finds it so hard to accept the brevity of every blossom.  After months of gray and white and stark silhouettes the soul is hungry for color and shape and that heavy perfume that smells like sweet grape juice.  These fleur de les dance like veils in the breeze and seem to just bounce in and then right back out the door before I can capture them for posterity!  And yet, I have so very many, that I should be guilty with my greed.

 I rush out to protect them from heavy rain and crazy wind and they are always awake before me.

Their furry throats call to me to look deep inside for something exotic and forbidden.

Over 300 varieties and people name their children and their restaurants and their technologies and even their songs after this beauty.  But they cannot claim her excellence.

Even I cannot destroy her elegance with my digital manipulations!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Beautiful Fit

It is never enough.
We had kept all the sorrows and pain in our hearts.
It was painful.
You cannot fake a conciliation, you can't.
It will be a long journey.
Another day you will remember another story.
I'm not going anywhere.
He's not going anywhere.
We have to make this work.

(Above are various quotes from the people talking on a news program reporting on Rwanda trying to heal.)

(And then this news was followed with Maya Angelou' reading her inaugural poem and I felt the words below fit the above so well.)

"But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no more hiding place down here."

Saturday, May 24, 2014

No, You Cannot

You cannot catch the pink flush of sunrise hiding in bed.
You cannot feel the raindrops while stacking the dishwasher.
You cannot smell the roses while running to the car.
You cannot prop the iris while talking on your cell phone.
You cannot watch the prothontary flit from branch to branch
        while checking your watch.
You cannot hear the angry "thuft" of the blue bird wing while
         there is still noise in your head.
You cannot admire the osprey while looking to the ground.
You cannot see the grazing deer while reading a map.
You cannot hear the fall of the tree while maintaining your anger.
You cannot enjoy the sigh of a spring sunset
          while watching the clamor of the news.

No, you cannot.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Smells Like Euphoria

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,

and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
blazing open.

Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

from New And Selected Poems by Mary Oliver

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Singing a Song of Love

Like a warrior I am fighting to reclaim my time.  The quick sands of volunteerism slurp away at my ankles and I find I must use both hands to find a guiltless hold and step away firmly and walk to the knoll at the crest of the hill.  I live with someone for whom being busy is the same thing as breathing, and thus, I must dance alone some days.  For me watching the morning unfold and pruriently watching the evening undressing for bed is what fills up my breath and banks my fire.

On this early lime-green spring morning after the buckets of rain, I can still hear that male prothonotary calling and calling for his love.  His ardor is a little weaker, but the drive for reproduction is compelling.  He is not shy around us hopping from branch to branch at the edges where the woods meet the yard in his desperation to find that mate.   He even pauses at the top of our broken umbrella, looking for love in all the wrong places.

He is so handsome and has checked out several of the bird houses in between his arias.  He even started to bring mosses to the little woven bird house that hangs beneath my rain monitor on the front porch forcing us to use another door for our access to this house.

I feel like a matchmaker wanting to find him the lady of his dreams, and truly am a failure as I have no power in that venture.  We all want to help when there is that longing for love and companionship in a fellow living being, don't we?

There was a brief carnival-of-color conversation yesterday when an indigo bunting came by to sing and landed not far from the bright yellow prothonotary on the fence line.  They chattered back and forth ever so sharply.  I was holding back my dismay until I saw his brownish/gray mate perching nearby and relieved that he at least is getting some loving this spring.

The dots in the photos above are their wedding confetti thrown from the blossoms of the wild cherry trees.

The bunting navigates from its winter home in Central America by using the stars at night just like a sailor.  Both the prothonotary and indigo bunting are not strangers to the woods in this area, but they are truly novel things to see in my yard.  Is this my reward trying to use natural controls and natural methods in my gardens?

I read that the bunting is not really blue but reflects blue light from microscopic structures in his feathers.  Are not birds miracles and mysteries in so many ways? 

I am hanging on to these next few weeks with tenacity, since all too soon the song birds will have nested, raised their young, and moved into the far woods for their quieter summer lives and will be much harder to find and watch.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

No, and Yes!!

I am taking a 'spring break' this morning for one hour to post this post.  Then I am off again for the last push of the season on duties before summer arrives this week like that sweaty eager boy from basketball practice and I wonder regretfully why I let another spring get away from me.

I miss most being able to take time to breathe and smell and smile.  Those of you who have slow days with time to let thoughts tumble like die until they rest and you rest, I am envious.  My days such as these are just around the corner...just out of sight...just must learn to say "No."

Below are three of my columbine volunteers.  It seems the columbine have volunteered everywhere this year, including in beds where I do not remember planting them.  I think I was told they cross pollinate before they revert to type, but that does not seem to be happening with any truth in my yard this year, as I have a large variety.  I must have purchased a bag of crazy seeds years ago!

They just glow in the late afternoon sun.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Taking Time to Breathe

Rushing here and there, loading and unloading automobiles, keeping eyes to the grindstone. Then yesterday hubby sticks his head in the kitchen as I put away food and mentions we have a prothonotary in the woods on the side of the yard.  To the average person, this does not sound like much news.  To the average bird watcher, it is perhaps, at most, an interesting comment.   To Tabor, this is really exciting, and a perfect excuse to push the pause button in my crazy life these days. 

I saw my first prothonotary in 2009 and watched it as I ate lunch in a canoe that rested at the side of a river. It is a big deal to see the first of a species that others have know about and have seen forever. I am always a little behind the times and last to the banquet served up by Mother Nature.  If you go to the link above you will see that my photos were very small that I posted, belying my excitement at that time.

Throwing milk into the fridge, I grabbed my camera, hubby grabbed the binoculars and we began a bird-watching feast.  These birds nest along rivers in the holes of trees and I have never seen them in my yard...EVER!  (Yes, photos are noisy, grainy and not up to National Geographic standards...but I was soooo thrilled to see him!)

If it was not for his loud and piercing song of love, we would not have been able to zone in on him in the lime green jungle of spring.

He hopped from tree to tree in search of his mate.

"Hey, Babe, where are you?"

"Tra, la, la, la la!!

Pausing on occasion to groom his lovely yellow-peach chest so that if she stopped by he would be looking HOT!

Pausing every once in a while to give me the eye as I snapped my camera.

Flying the eve of my house and facing the river giving it all he had.

Finally a bit exhausted and pensive as he rested on the stem of my clematis lost in thought about where to fly next.  Still looking HOT!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Virginal Blushing

Spring is always a virginal transition. She comes in delicate, blushing, eager but ambivalent, all at the same time. We try to rush her and prepare our space so that she can feel more than welcome before we jump for joy and clap loudly in her face.  But then we are embarrassed by our boorish behavior as her father, the rain, thunders and flashes his sword, and blows hot and cold, reminding us of her tender beauty and her magical ability to change the season and her delicate ephemeral presence.  He angrily reminds us to treat her with the majesty she deserves.

Above are the shy and delicate blooms poking out everywhere of that redbud tree that several years ago volunteered to grow right next to the compost pile and now stands above my head.

Fruit trees wearing their lovely jewelry that only lasts long enough for pollinators to get their first meals of the season and then shed each petal like confetti at the end of the party.

And medicinal plants such as lung-wort (Pulmonaria) bring forth their tiny bluebells and pinkbells and ring them out in celebration under the shade of the dogwood tree.

And not to be forgotten in her soft mauve cape, the lenten rose bows low to the Princess of Spring and welcomes her with the dignity she deserves.

(Sun is breaking out today after three days of rain, thunder, one tornado threat and 7 inches of rain...May first has some promise after all.)