Springing Along

 

Lilac has perfumed the air and blossomed; the wind and rain have blown away spent blooms but not before we gathered flowers to infuse in a syrup that’s handy to soak pound cake with, drizzle over pancakes, or add a splash to lemonade later in the year, a reminder of lovely lilac days.  Spring is moving along fast.  Knotweed, garlic mustard, and burdock are all big and past their tender tasty prime.  Lambs quarters are popping up with milkweed shoots, asparagus is on its way to ferning, and we’re on our hands and knees turning over wormy dirt where cabbages, broccoli, chard, kale, and lettuce are being given homes.  The roses have begun budding and yellow jackets are buzzing around looking for a spot to make their nests. Little Leif has come and gone.  He spent many a day away from his desert home in these lush mountains, waking to the sound of Lordly Cock crowing, popping out to gather eggs.  He’d put things down on the grasses, where they would disappear from sight, swallowed by the tall greenery  . . . . and oh, his expression, then the search!  Fingers parting the swathes, peeking, crawling nose to ground, looking for his marbles!

 

 

Too quickly the days are passing, one day to the next, one week to another, year to year; again we’re doing a garden, and though gardens are being done yearly, they’re never the same, giving what’s given to them . . .  piquing curiousity, for in a garden is made visible the fluctuations all around.  Even while the earth feels sure beneath the feet and hands it is turning turning and we with it, pulling cinquefoil here leaving it there, choices being made moment to moment, peas or dock?  Is there room for both?  Where to make the cuts with chicory and evening primrose, both beloved by bees and butterflies so beautiful, yet they’ll outgrow and crowd out chard and swallow the basil; choices choices that shape a patchwork crazy quilt that shows fully its story later, as the days and weeks and months keep turning.

Today under the row covers we found ditches formed by the downpour a few days ago, a rain so hard it flooded the driveway, making it un-driveable until early evening.  Surely it would have remained flooded, three creeks instead of one, had the leaves, logs, and branches not been moved out where they were damming up the flow, sending water bursting through the banks, frothing and rushing downstream into the big river at the bottom of the mountain, which in turn flooded out through porches and swing sets onto the road.  Though the driveway’s cleared, it’s scarred and marked, rutted by the passage of water eroding the earth; here and there are sand and gravel islands.

When I drive it, I’m reminded of the Karachi roads where I learned to drive; zig zag zoo, together up together down, around a pothole here, a mountain of a speedbump there, another ditch and groove, year round bump and go dirt roads . . . . though I’ve heard tell in the years between now and then those roads remain only in my memory, having been smoothed out and paved by machinery and advancements in that land; ironic that I live on a country road in an already advanced country that rivals those roads now!  Turn turn churn, East to West, West to East, sometimes it feels like we’re all wildly whirling in opposite directions from where we originate, thus shifting and moving this to that and that to this, eroding being eroded replenished absorbed reshaping where we are based on where we’ve been in a musical chairs medley until Haughty Heron flies overhead and lands on a swaying branch, peers down his long long nose and says, Hmm, I’ve seen this all before, now where are the fish?  Corn Woman grins at him in response.

 

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spring through fall

the pond and creek have been the source of joyful leaping bounteous play all year.  with the spring rains the creek filled up and as it became warmer outside the children found themselves drawn to the water often.  they worked together to dam up a goodly sized pool space that they removed rocks and leaves from . . .. the newts underneath were moved upstream to leafy mucky spots similar to the habitat they were found in.  eventually monkey eyes got some garden hose and set up a siphon out of the pond.  this was used to make a slippy slide with leftover greenhouse material to the pool in the creek.  then summer came along and with hardly any rain the creek reduced to the spring fed flow and the children turned to the pond for their activities  . . ..  snake hunting, wading, log floating, fishing for koi, and frog catching soon turned into leaping into the deep end and swimming.  now its almost winter and the rain and snow melts have filled the creek again.  the children are out floating their dolls and fishing for leaves with sticks by the waterside.  when it freezes they walk on the icy slip and slide, and when they freeze it’s back inside to a warm house 🙂

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gathering time

creek

The gathering time is here again,

To gather with our plant friends deeply drawing in their smells

While they breathe in ours . . .

The sharing time is here again,

To share with our plant friends a smile, a laugh, a touch, a listening

While they speak for hours . . . .

I love this time of year when the smell of propolis is strong up above the spring, mixed with pine, and we’re stopping in meadows, sun streaming over us and our feet go cool into the creek and there, there there is water mint, sweet and refreshing to be with.  Sitting for a while, awareness sharpens, bee sounds are suddenly loud and then become part of the in breath, out breath, woodpecker hello!  There’s a lilting voice and a chatter mixed in with a squeal every now and then, part of the cadence, the new rythym since our arrival, the old makes way for us, generously giving space to life and we join in, doing our water dance in the creek, while a trout darts by a few times and the ants go back to doing what they’ve been doing long before we came . . . .

It’s *that* time of year but it’s not the same even though it’s *that* time, a funny thing this wheel turning us around or are we turning it around or neither nigh-ther . . . . last year we gathered baskets of juicy chickweed and cleavers catching on our clothes, furry burdock leaves, comfrey stalk, flower, and leaf . . . not this year at that time, instead we go play in the fields of fresh blooming red clover blossoms before they’re moved down after which their sweet smell lingers on and we taste it in the milk from the farm on that side of the valley below, and while we gather the clovers sing to us to pick the ones the bees leave, the bee kissed ones, so we do, and we take them back to tincture, to dry, to steep in honey for green mead in the autumn, to infuse oil, and in queen of hungary’s water (to which i’ve added peach and strawberry leaves, chamomile, comfrey, and a mixture of fresh rose petals) . . .  is it even the queen’s water anymore!?

happily we leave much of it to the bees and turn homeward, to motherwort.  she’s so stately this year: tall, filled out and bushy and lightly flowering on top though the bumble bees haven’ t found her yet . . . once they’ve worked her over, then the heat dries her to yellow from the inside out and she looks half baked, parched, spent, changed.  but at this moment she’s in her full glory and whispers of how she can help me later in those long, sunnless days when my temper grows inside me like thunder coiled up keeping me hot when it’s so cold all around, snake rising rising energy that can be spent, discharged in useless words and anger, leaving me parched, half baked, or stored where it becomes an internal heater during the hibernation time yet a challenge to keep in check, so motherwort says she’ll help me with that part and into a jar she goes . . .. yes it’s *that* time of year yet it’s not . . . .

What lies ahead, I wonder, as I watch small hands gather beside me and notice with a start that some of those hands are no longer small but the size of my own, a woman’s hands, and rounding the bend a truck slows down to a crawl and the driver’s a young fella who honks and lifts his hat and smiles and winks and his gaze is upon my daughter, who picks blossoms with care, dagger tucked in her waistband, a warrior, a maiden, no damsel in distress her eyes flash and her nostrils flare as though she’s aware with her flashing skirts, barefeet, and basket of flowers the picture she makes in the green green grasses!  The wheel turns and turns and I plunge the dasher, churning churning, turning turning all that cream into butter . . . .

sweet

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