Friday, May 22, 2009

Kathleen: Fragile, Fleeting Spring

I love the change of seasons, and I love that every region of the country wears the seasons differently. I've lived in lots of places in my life, and I'm a nester, so I claim roots in many of those places: Virginia, where I was born; New England, where I spent those lovely "formative" years; the Dakotas, where I got married and had children; Minnesota for the past...can it be 18 years?...and shorter stretches in other places. I think I could live anywhere and be content. But I do love four distinctive seasons. Today I celebrate Spring green.

It's such a young, fresh color. It appears quickly, and it doesn't last long. It doesn't demand
attention. It's a soft, quiet surprise.

Spend an extra week hibernating, you'll miss the first yellow-green. It's especially beautiful on the High Plains. It's a blanket, and it rolls on forever beneath the uninterrupted, ever-changing sky. Out here you can't escape the sky, but why would you want to? You've never seen blue like this. You've never seen so many stars or experienced such uninterrupted natural music. I do believe the meadowlark's song is the most delightful of bird calls. It's a lovely trill floating through tall grass.

But back to spring green. We have lots of sumac in our neighborhood, which is bounded by undeveloped park land. The city tree guy said that it's a natural chunk of woods--nothing man-planted, just the stuff that's always grown here. I doubt that anyone would plant sumac, but it provides a lovely screen, and there's an Ojibwe legend about why its leaves are the first to turn blood red in the Fall.

We've left our back yard to to grow wild. It's woody, and the critters love it. Deer, fox, hawks, turkeys, squirrels like crazy, raccoons, everybody's welcome. The front yard is planted, but mostly with native plants. Right now the wild geranium (right) is blooming all over the place. And there's columbine, whose petals in mythology symbolize the seven gifts of the spirit. Wild columbine (right) has five petals, but some cultivated varieties have seven. Even more interesting, in pantomime, a ‘columbine’ refers to the sweetheart of Harlequin.

But my favorite early spring wildflower is the delicate Prairie Smoke. (Two views here.) Its feathery show doesn't last long, but that's part of its beauty. You enjoy it while it lasts, and then it gives someone else a turn.

So much to enjoy during this short, sweet season. The warm sun that feels so good some of us don't notice how quickly our winter white turns pink. Long hours of rain, big puddles, mud that smells ready for seeds. And the time is short to get those seeds planted. Time for concerts, graduations, the first baseball games, track and field, fishing (opener here is always on Mother's Day, for pity's sake.)

What's coming up, getting started going down in your neck of the woods?

This (left) should make you Californians smile. Spring Break in Minnesota.

Oh, should mention that Sam Beaudry is still selling really well after a month on both Amazon and B& I know I have our visitors and followers to thank. And get a load of the daylilies!


Playground Monitor said...

Everything is green and blooming here in north Alabama. My day lilies are gorgeous and my lavender plants have long spikes just ready to burst into bloom.

But you want to know the neatest thing? I have a barn swallow nest built high in the corner of my front porch, a robin's nest with 2 bright blue eggs in the lawn shed and a bluebird nest with 4 light blue eggs in the bluebird house. We're going to have lots of baby birds soon!


lois greiman said...

I am sooooo with you, Kathy. I can't seem to force myself to come inside. I saw my first ducklings yesterday...the cutest things ever, and we're due to have a foal any day. Spring is finally really here.

You made me smile with the guys on the ice.

Anonymous said...

Down here in Arkansas, my lavender has put new shoots. Not purple yet but getting there.

Daylillies opened this week.

My amaryllis are all in bloom. Those are awesome

The clematis bloomed this week too.

My purple phlox has lost it's blooms but is in it's growing phase.

My strawberry plants and blueberry plants have fruits but the birds get to them long before we can!

On the downside, The weeds are also pushing through EVERYWHERE!

Betina Krahn said...

Rain! We finally got some rain here in Sunshine land. It's been fiercely dry this spring-- spring is always the "dry season" in Florida-- but even moreso this year. Our lake is down nearly two feet!

But the rain signals that our spring is over and that the summer rainy season has come. And not a minute too soon; out grass and shrubs have really been suffering.

Oh, and we've been watching out for the sandhill cranes and their suzzy, sweet, gawky babies for some time now. Several mated pairs live in our area and they rule the roads here. . . can bring traffic to a screeching halt as they cross a road. Sometimes they even use crosswalks!!!! Don't ask me how or if they know they're supposed to cross there, they just do.

And Kathy, I love the spring break photo-- too good!

Michele Hauf said...

Oh, I love the Prairie Smoke. Hope to get a chance to see that some day. Our lilacs are just at the end of their bloom, which always signals the end of spring to me. Next I'll be eagerly awaiting the peonies.

Kylie said...

That early spring green is so soft and inviting. We still have plenty of it in NE Iowa as the trees aren't fully leafed out yet.

I always wonder--can one fully appreciate the joy and wonder of spring if they don't really have a winter? I, too, love the distinct seasons. Although winter got a little too distinct for me this year, LOL!

My favorite are the bleeding heart and different colored Columbines. My gardens are full of them. And I saw a couple gold finches on my early morning walk this morning. There's something about spring that will get me out of the bed for a walk before work, where a treadmill has completely lost its appeal.

Cindy Gerard said...

Amen, kathy. i just love watching each new variety of flower bloom. Our wild lavender flox is just now budding out, the bleeding heart is still full of what I think is the most amazing blossom EVER and the birds continue to visit my many feeders. i was shocked the other day to see a pair of indigo buntings munching happily on the finch food. I've NEVER seen one up close and let me tell you - it was like waking up to the Blue Bird of happiness right in my back yard!!

ForestJane said...

*ForestJane sits criss-cross-applesauce with her hands in her lap*

If we behave, will we get a storytime about the Ojibwe legend of the sumac and the blood-red leaves? Plzzz?

Here in Memphis, all the Spring jonquils and peonies and iris are finished blooming. Now I'm watching my tomatoes grow and snow peas coming into flower.

ForestJane's Blog

Kathleen Eagle said...

I've heard several different versions of the sumac legend in the lore from several tribes, and I could be wrong about associating the Ojibwe with this version. It's interesting that the stories take different turns but generally have sumac, a bear, and a constellation of stars in common, while the tribes are all over the map.

Two hunters turned on a third, who was a bear. They killed the bear, laid him on a bed of sumac and butchered him. Sumac remembers the bear's blood by turning red early in the fall. The innocent bear went to the sky along with the hunters and their dog, and the chase is eternal, but the bear will never again be caught. We know the constellation they form as the Big and Little Dippers.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Cindy, isn't it amazing how much farther north some species of birds have been able to move in the last, I don't know, 20-30-40 years? Cardinals for one. I've actually had a couple of Baltimore Orioles at my feeders in recent years. They say it's a combination of climate and the explosion of backyard feeders. Amazing. And the recovery of the bluebird, whose numbers were decreasing before bird enthusiasts stared putting up gobs of bluebird houses. Yes, we can!

Kathleen said...

Oh Kathleen your picture on the lake reminds me of one we had taken at the lake of us sitting in the middle the lake in our bathing suites in winter and just has we snapped the picture a skidoo went by, We call it Summer in Canada.
I love to see all the Lilacs in bloom, our Magnolia tree and apple blossom tree. It is just wonderful to walk the neighbour hood and see the many colours of spring.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Michele, go to for Prairie Moon Nursery. Prairie Smoke is aka Geum Triforum (or something like that. It would be wonderful in your fairyland. Very low-growing.

Debra Dixon said...

We're greening up around here! Have been for quite a while.

Kathy-- I love the legends and the tidbits behind everything.

ForestJane said...

Thanks for the story, Kathleen. :)