It’s been cold the last couple of mornings. The sweatpants are back and for those morning walks with Guinevere, I’ve even reverted to adding a sweatshirt to my sweatpants/t-shirt ensemble. And socks – quelle sacrilege! It’s almost like we need a word for this transition season… not quite summer yet, although it should be. Maybe “sprummer”?
Anyway, even if it’s cold, the walks are glorious because my favorite flower is starting to bloom, not just in my yard but all over the neighborhood – the irises have arrived! I’m not sure why the iris is my favorite. My mom wasn’t an iris fan, but I do remember going to the Missouri Botanical Garden growing up and seeing bed after bed of glorious blooms. In my yard I have pretty much every color, including an orange variety called “orange crush”, although not all the colors have bloomed yet.
This morning looking at a garden full of pale yellow beauties in a yard around the corner, it made me think of a pretty haiku I found a few years ago by a Japanese woman who lived in the 17th century:
Waking from my dream:
what a color
were the iris flowers
Do you have a favorite flower? Or a favorite haiku about a flower?
I think I’ve mentioned that there are a couple of gardens in my neighborhood that I adore. In fact, on my daily walk with Guinevere, I try to walk by both houses before heading home. I am insanely jealous of both these gardens, wishing I had the foresight and talent to have a garden like either of these. As you know, my garden is just a mish-mosh of what I like and what survives in Minnesota, planted in dribs and drabs over the years. A lot of hostas, lilies, sedum, irises. The only overall plan is the “more flowers, less grass” plan – that’s it. No maps, no sketches, no layouts.
On Saturday morning I was wasting time driving around Linden Hills (waiting for my 10 a.m. time slot to pick up some bread from the bakery) and a garden caught my attention. Luckily no one was driving behind me, because I’m pretty sure I hit the breaks pretty good. It was so breathtaking that I turned around on the next block and went back, parked the car and got out to admire it. The photo I took doesn’t even begin to do justice to this yard. I hung around for almost 10 minutes, kinda hoping that someone would come out of the house so I could compliment them, but alas, nobody.
As I looked, I realized that the overwhelming number of plants in the garden were hostas, lilies, sedum and irises – just like my garden! Although this garden is certainly several steps up from mine, I thought that maybe I didn’t have to be INSANELY jealous… maybe just a little jealous. It gave me a warm feeling as I drove off, thinking that maybe my hostas and lilies give others a few moments of happiness.
Do you battle any jealousy in your life?
For years I’ve had way more library books checked out than even I can read before they are due; I spend way too much time (at least what most people think is way too much time) curating what I have checked out, what’s on hold, what’s in transit. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that I have my 16-digit library card number memorized. I never thought any of this would ever come in handy – looks like covid-19 is making me re-think this assumption.
By the end of last night, I am caught up. I have read ALL the library books that I had checked out at the time the libraries closed up, plus a couple more that have arrived since my local library started allowing curbside pick-up. I’m not in any danger of running out of things to read… plenty of online stuff and a good number of books that I’ve accumulated over the years but never read. But it’s a nice feeling to be all caught up with the library. I’m pretty sure that as soon as shelter-in-place is over, I’ll be back to my old habits!
Here are a few that I’ve read:
His Majesty’s Dragon (Naomi Novik). 5 stars. Read this (again) for Blevins. Bit of revisionist history of the era of the Napoleanic wars with dragons thrown into the mix. First of the Temeraire series.
The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls (Julie Schumacher) 5 stars. This is the same author who wrote Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirements. It’s a young-adult fiction but a good read and very well written. Four girls thrown together over the summer to discuss their school required reading list.
Natural History of Dragons (Marie Brennan). 5 stars. Bit of very fun fiction from the viewpoint of a female “dragonologist” at a time when women were supposed to be staying home and knitting.
Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie). 5 stars. Read this again (read all of AC in high school) to refresh my memory on which of the two movies was the most loyal to the book. Although I am normally irritated by mystery writers who don’t give you all the clues, since I already know who the murderers are in all her books, I was able to let it go and just enjoy her writing. (And the 1972 movie was much closer to the book!)
The Crypt Thief (Mark Pryor). 4 stars. Found this when I was looking up the video on the French cemetery that was discussed on the Trail in February. Murder mystery involving the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
I know you’re worried that I’m going to review every book I’ve read in the last 2 months, but I’ll stop here (except to say no need to read Fooled by Randomness (Taleb) or Wreck the Halls (Graves). Only 2 stars each.
What’s the latest book you’ve finished “in place”?
My mother did some gardening, but not a lot – the occasional rose bush but it was never a grand passion. She never asked me to help with anything in the yard, not even raking in the fall. None of my grandparents had the gardening bug either, so I’m not sure where I got the flower fever.
My plan of more flowers/less grass has pretty much come to fruition – there is hardly any grass left in the front. Although the more flowers/less grass situation does come with an unforeseen circumstance – mulch! We use a lot.
And in the more interesting turn of events, YA has made it clear that SHE is in charge of the mulch. She has opinions about what kind is best (cypress), how many bags at a time I should get (definitely 6), where it goes in the yard and who should be putting it down where (I get the boulevard, she gets everywhere else). This year she put down some of that black tarp on the northern side of the front yard and covered it with mulch as well.
Now we’re waiting for mulch to be re-stocked at the nursery – they were out yesterday morning – the latest repercussion of shelter-in-place – lots more folks are gardening!
Any gardening surprises for you this year?
The frozen bananas were calling to me on Sunday, imploring me to make them into banana bread. I complied, dragging out James Beard’s banana bread recipe, omitting the nuts, and adding a brown sugar glaze to the top when it was done.
I like banana bread and a cranberry bread my mother always made at Christmas, the recipe I unaccountably lost. Date bread is a waste of good eggs and butter, as far as I am concerned. Blueberry muffins? Yum!
What are your favorite quick breads and muffins?
Today’s post comes to us from our Ben!
The ducks have separated. We have 9 white ducks and four brown ducks that all hang out together. But last week, two browns and one white were off by themselves. It happens as the weather warms. A young ducks fancy turns too….?
And now that one white duck is totally by itself. At first, I thought maybe it had hurt its foot that it was sitting there all alone. But the next day it was toddling along just fine. Except alone. Occasionally I will get a couple mallards that we raised come back for a visit and maybe a pair or two will stay in the area, just not with all the other ducks. Sometimes we see them flying over and land in the swamp just over there. So home, but still independent like all good kids.
Also, the door on the chicken coop has been getting easier to open. It’s just a plain home-made wood door. In winter, presumably as the ground heaves with the frost, it gets harder to open as it drags on the ground. But the last week it’s started to open easier. Meaning the ground is settling again. And sometimes, the sliding doors on the North end of the shed will also get hard to open, again, because of the ground heaving. It helped that I shortened them a few inches. But when they open again, I know spring is coming.
I mentioned the other day I was ready to order baby chicks but the tank was buried in a snowdrift. Got that out. I’m thinking another sign of spring may be when the chick raising tank emerges from the snow.
What signs of spring have you seen?