Thursday, March 25, 2010
Refreshed my senses which were almost dead,
And fragrant flowers of sage and fruitful plants
Did send sweet savors up into my head.
And taste of science appetite did move,
To augment Theory of things above...
(from Rachel Speght's A Dream, 1621)
Now that Spring is fully engaged and gainfully employed, I begin to notice the somewhat less pleasant effects of this engagement and employment: Allergies! There is pollen in them thar Camellias and other lovelies we find so attractive at first and then a bit annoying. SAM says he has been taking a Claritin tablet every day to keep from wheezing and coughing. Apparently, Tallahassee is renowned for its pollen and subsequent effects. When we lived in Illinois, Spring was my season of misery. Yes, I know; it's supposed to be a joyous occasion of renewal and celebration. It is, as long as you have an arsenal of weapons to fend off those annoying allergens. Some people choose manmade chemical weapons; some of them choose a more natural approach. Guess which one I choose?
Essential oils. It's not clear why sometimes this natural defense works and why it sometimes fails. I try to employ it as often as I can. It makes more sense to me to glean from nature what works for nature than to rely on manmade chemicals produced in the laboratory.
Please visit Ramblingwoods.com for this week's Nature Notes/Signs of the Season post and other bloggers' links to the same.
Monday, March 22, 2010
The Fall of Man, Hugo Van Der Goes, 1470
After looking at my Prunus (plum) trees last week and wondering about their relative worth as cultivars, I got to thinking about another member of the Rosaceae family--the ubiquitous and oft-maligned apple. Marnie of Lilacs and Roses fame gave me the idea for this post with her funny comment in my last post. She asked "Don't we all have yards full of the 'recommended' disappointments?" I, for one, am guilty as charged with that crime. You know, the one that involves listening to bad advice because I see something pretty or maybe familiar from another garden in another place and time and just have to have it, no matter the consequence. Okay, I confess: I sin regularly; I'm an impulsive gardener. SAM caught me in the act, and my lusty passion was exposed--this notion came from a recent post by the Idiot Gardener; you will get a kick out of his humor--at one of the big box stores on Saturday. I had a good excuse, really! We had to get the house and the yard--especially the yard, in my opinion--ready for a real estate open house yesterday. After we had plopped several bags of mulch on the large, flat cart, SAM went off in search of something in the hardware section of the store and left me to my own devices in the garden section. He should know better by now than to do something like that. I wasn't too indulgent this time, though, just adding a few six-packs of annuals--not beer!--to the cart so I could freshen up the herb/flowering bulb pots near the front porch. First impressions are important in the real estate market, especially these days. With all of the foreclosures and short-sale deals on the market, every little bit of home-selling trickery will be attempted--nothing unethical, mind you. No back-of-the-limo, down-to-the-wire, last-minute appeals here to sway any undecided, onlooking fence-sitters. I was out front and center in the yard, adding my mulch and flowers, and on Sunday we had several visitors to the open house. Okay, so three of them were neighbors, one just curious, but two of them, an older couple down the street have a daughter, you see, with husband and kids, who wants a bigger house and, of course, a pool! Does she like gardening? If her parents are any indication, she must. Okay, she will probably pass muster, but that first couple who arrived won't. I couldn't gauge much about her honest opinion, other than the fact that her nose kept getting higher by the minute. My mom refers to this type of person as a (with an umlaut on the "a") hoch-nase. His smirking response to SAM's question about gardening was: "Well, our dogs do, and our kids have four-wheelers!" Nope, sorry. It's not your kind of house or yard or neighborhood. There are no covenants here, but some things have to at least pass Walk2Write's litmus test. Lord knows, I've probably just squeaked by in the neighbors' opinion. I hope they all realize that my intention has always been good.
(Church, downtown Tallahassee, March 2010)
So, what about Malus and its bad reputation? According to some apple growers who are serious about informing people and keeping the ball of public opinion in their court, that painting by Hugo Van Der Goes sparked a forest fire of discontent among apple lovers, beginning in the fifteenth century. Most of the malcontents were apparently illiterates, believing that the apple was the fruit Eve had craved in the Garden of Eden and that it equates with temptation, lust, debauchery, you-name-it, just as the Church had hammered home to them. They couldn't read (or maybe didn't care to check) that the apple is never mentioned in the book of Genesis. As you can imagine, the apple growing market must have suffered tremendously as a result of manipulating public opinion. Interestingly, the same thing happened during the late 1980s and early 90s with the Alar scare, only this time the Church--as we know it, anyway--had no hand in the problem. Sensationalism, somehow, got out of hand once more to sway public opinion. It kind of makes you wonder about intention and its consequences. William Blake probably didn't help the apple's case with his verse about venomous spite. He may have been riding the long-running wave of public opinion to make his point, whatever it was.
A Poison Tree
I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I watered it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,
And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
(a poem by Wiliam Blake from Songs of Experience, 1794)
Thursday, March 18, 2010
If birds of a feather flock together,
Do bats have a thing for flocking of wing?
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away,
How will those docs ever earn their pay?
Would a plum chewed in May
Make this "reform" okay?
A trip to Leon Sinks Geological Area last weekend produced some fruit for thought. I guess I must be "karst" (think Irish accent here). There has to be some limestone bedrock embedded in my brain that finally gave way. Today I worked a couple of hours at the Santa Rosa County (University of Florida) Extension Demonstration Gardens in Milton. Now that the weather has finally warmed up a little here in sunny Florida (ha!), work and joy aplenty await the willing worker who will give up some time to dig in the dirt and savor some rhyme! I worked most of the time with a veteran of the program with which I'm involved. When I arrived, she put me to work trimming some Japanese maple trees, and we talked about many things, garden-related and not. One of the things that impressed me the most about her was her willingness to let go. Let go? From our talk as we worked, I gathered that she spends a lot of time helping other people. She has been a Master Gardener for a number of years, yet she doesn't try to lord it over anyone just learning the ropes. I had a free hand to shape those trees, and I would have continued shaping them ad infinitum just for the sake of talking with her. Specific details of that conversation don't really matter. Over the course of a couple of hours, I learned--again, mind you!--that intention is key to my health and progress as a human being.
I took that picture of plum tree blossoms this morning before I drove to Milton. Last year, SAM and I planted two plum (Prunus) trees after finding healthy specimens at a local nursery. I went with the recommendations of the employee there and purchased two different cultivars of Prunus salicina for the purpose of optimizing pollination and fruit production, one of them known as "Bruce" and the other "Burbank." I wish I--and maybe the nursery owner(s)--had taken the time to be better informed and had followed certain recommendations backed by years of recent research. Maybe someday I will learn to seek, recognize, and follow the path of good intention.
We see the reverse in TREES of what we do in [RIVERS]. In these, all comes from one common stock and is distributed into innumerable branches, beginning at the root where the trunk is biggest of all, and ending in the extremities of the smallest twigs. The water here, in the sap of those trees, has a contrary course from what it has in rivers, where the course begins in the extremities of the smallest branches, and ends in the mouth of the river where the river is largest, and all the waters are collected into one body...
(from Jonathan Edwards' (1703-1758) Images or Shadows of Divine Things)
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Shepherd: "Fie, daughter! When my old wife lived, upon
This day she was both pantler, butler, cook,
Both dame and servant; welcomed all, served all;
Would sing her song and dance her turn; now here,
At upper end o' th' table, now i' th' middle;
On his shoulder, and his; her face afire
With labor, and the thing she took to quench it
She would to each one sip. You are retired,
As if you were a feasted one and not
The hostess of the meeting. Pray you, bid
These unknown friends to 's welcome, for it is
A way to make us better friends, more known.
Come, quench your blushes and present yourself
That which you are, mistress o' th' feast...
(from William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, Act 4, Scene 4)
The lumberjack festival was a cut above the normal list of things to do in Northwest Florida last weekend. I felt pretty good about myself, having given up two hours to meet and greet the public in the name of all that is research-based knowledge. Wouldn't you know, though, that the camera went for a ride on SAM's shoulder and in the Honda on Saturday?--see my comment on the last post--so I made sure that it was fully engaged and gainfully employed the next day at Arcadia Mill.
After making the trek across the swinging bridge, single-file because the stream was so high, I found wild blueberries in bloom again--or are they sparkle berries?--along one of the many side trails. SAM's foot was bothering him so we took a short break in a clearing and sat down on a massive log. We heard voices closing in on us. Two young men and a young woman stepped through the surrounding brush. One of them, dread-locks bedecked, stepped forward and asked us what we were doing. Huh? What could be so mysterious about two pudgy, gray-haired people parked on a log? The sun is shining, the afternoon is wearing on, you can see that we have feasted well and often...This young man would not be satisfied by appearances only. He had to know. What do we think of this site? How old is that log you're sitting on? We got to talking. Well, at least he did. He was verbose. We could barely get a word in edge-wise. He finally understood that we love to hike, enjoy nature and each other's company, blog, and garden--well, at least I do, the latter two things. Many questions were answered, I hope, and that nice young man made me aware of something I had not noticed when crossing the bridge over the stream-too-high. Did you see the sliders? he asked. What? The sliders on the log, just past the first bridge. Oh! Well, you see, I was trying to keep the camera dry and trying to be careful where I stepped. I had missed them! What kind of a naturalist am I? The kind that went back to see those sliders still sitting on their log and not even know for sure that what the young man with the dread-locks called them was correct. It is, and they are--yellow-bellied slider turtles, that is, or if you're a purist, Trachemys scripta, "rough turtle that is marked."
Please visit Ramblingwoods.com for this week's Nature Notes/Signs of the Season post. You will be glad that you did. Let her and the other participants for this week know by dropping in and leaving a comment!
Friday, March 5, 2010
"The piece I'm going to repeat," he went on without noticing her remark, "was written entirely for your amusement."
Alice felt that in that case she really ought to listen to it; so she sat down, and said "Thank you" rather sadly,
"In winter, when the fields are white,
I sing this song for your delight--
only I don't sing it," he added, as an explanation.
"I see you don't," said Alice.
"If you can see whether I'm singing or not, you've sharper eyes than most," Humpty Dumpty remarked severely. Alice was silent.
"In spring, when woods are getting green,
I'll try and tell you what I mean..."
(from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, Chapter VI, Humpty Dumpty, 1871)
I know that many of you are still digging out of the ice and snow. If you manage to break free, make sure to visit Northwest Florida this Saturday, March 6, so you can participate in the annual Forestry Conclave and Lumberjack Festival in Milton on the Pensacola Junior College campus. It truly is one of those participatory festivals, even if the only thing you can do is tap your foot to the bluegrass music, cheer on some of the lumberjacks in the various competitions, or smile and say hello to one of the volunteers making it all happen. Yours truly will be (wo)manning one of the booths for part of the afternoon. I'll let you guess which one it is. Hints: It's a natural extension of something I love to do, and try as I might, I'll never be a master at it.
The two photos on this post--don't you just love a brevity break?--were taken while hiking the Bear Creek Trail and Ravine Trail on the Bear Creek Tract--part of the Lake Talquin State Forest--near Tallahassee last weekend. It's a fascinating place with many habitats and woodland features to explore. SAM and I liked it so well that we visited it on Saturday and Sunday. I took this second picture on Saturday which was cloudy and cold. On Sunday, as you can see from the first photo, the sun broke free of the clouds and at least gave us the impression that warmer days are ahead. That tree, named musclewood for obvious reasons (although this site calls it "hornbeam"), gave me the impression that I need to start lifting some weights again.
Please visit Ramblingwoods.com for another Nature Notes/Signs of the Season post and make a point of visiting the various bloggers who have participated this week and added a link.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Some violets in the woods
I only saw these two
They stretched their hairy necks
To show their heads of blue
They did not like this winter
So cold and wet and long
But now it's time to show themselves
And charm us with their song
You did not know these flowers sing
A song that ears can't hear?
They tell the woods and us to live again
Again this time of year
(A poem by Walk2Write, March 3, 2010)
Photo of Florida Violet, Viola sororia (V. affinis, V. floridana) taken at Bear Creek Trail near Tallahassee