Mid-May

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It’s the middle of May, a cool Sunday that may or may not bring storms, and in the little herb garden garlic is in bloom.

In a corner of the herb garden, petunias: a gift from grandson #1 on my birthday. He picked a plant that has both white and purplish flowers, and they are very cheering indeed. What could say “grandmother” more than petunias in your herb garden? Or maybe Jessie was paying tribute to the fact that while I am driving him and his brother around and trying not to curse, I will simply call all the annoying drivers “Petunia.” As in Let’s go, Petunia!

Given that the flowers are 180 degrees removed from annoying, I may have to change up my verbiage.

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So much of the world is in bloom in fact, the streets smell like flowers. Jasmine and honeysuckle especially, climbing up fences, trellises, and trees. I caught one white flower in a neighbor’s yard first thing one morning, looking like it was glad to wake up.

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We’ve had cool nights, and rain, and the creeks are running fast.

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Travis and I have been savoring our walks down to the creek, for I think they are almost done for the season. Last week I prevailed upon Floyd to walk down with us, and I saw my first coral snake out in the wild. Of course I didn’t have my phone, you’ll just have to trust me that it was just over a foot long and astonishingly beautiful. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote about an encounter with a coral snake in Cross Creek; it didn’t end well for that poor fellow.

But we felt no need to protect ourselves from the youngster gliding away from the trail as we walked; a coral snake really has no desire to interact with humans and would have to gnaw on you for a while in order to inject you with venom. I had none of the increased heart rate that accompanies my encounters with rattlesnakes.

A few days ago I did encounter a rat snake in the street outside our back gate. I’d insert a photo but because I haven’t been paying attention, the photos I’ve been taking with my phone are all too often videos, and I don’t want to freak out any of the snake-fearing among you. This was a very nice-looking guy/gal, about four feet in length and heading across the street. I’d have been glad for that rat snake to turn around and head right back into my yard, but perhaps s/he has an appetite for lizards and I just hate it when anyone eats my lizards. (Are you listening road runner who landed in the back yard yesterday?)

But I digress.

Let’s talk about day lilies. Why don’t I have more varieties? Why don’t they bloom all summer? Why don’t I live in southern California?

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A number of mine came from the garden of Floyd’s late Aunt Villa Belle when she had to give up her home. They live here and there around the yard and at this point they are like brilliant lanterns against the dark dense greenery.

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Bright yellow, orange-yellow, and one on the sidewalk garden for which I have been waiting several years now:

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Like all wonderful flowers everywhere, they just make you want more. And like all flowers that show up for a few brief weeks in an excellent spring, they make you wish they could stick around a little longer. Surely life would be perfect then.

In the back yard, a gaggle of sunflowers have sprung up under the feeders and in all the places where I emptied the trays of seed shells all winter. Several different varieties, each one cheerful.

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They become most unattractive when they go to seed, but I plan to keep at least some of them around so the birds can get some practice for life in the wild. There’s nothing like flowers that plant themselves, I always say; and there are quite a few wildflowers blooming and propagating all around the yard.

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I have a number of spineless prickly pear cactus in the sidewalk garden, and this year they have more blooms than I’ve ever seen before. The most melting lemon yellow color imaginable, attracting honeybees and mason bees and all the beetles.

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This post is all over the place: front yard, back yard, neighbors’ yards – just like I am on the days when the sun is shining and I cannot sit still. Classes are over for the year, I don’t have to teach first summer session, and I’m enjoying the longest stretch of just one job in a very long time. When I’m home Travis and I spend the day walking in one door and out the other, keeping track of what’s happening outside.

I put some seeds in the herb garden a few weeks ago: zucchini and gourds. I’ve been on a bit of a weight loss adventure and have employed zucchini as a pasta substitute. Despite my track record in growing edibles, isn’t it the case that everyone can grow too many zucchini to eat? We shall see. In the meantime, both zucchini and gourds are putting out a daily ration of flowers with which they more than earn their keep.

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One can always buy zucchini and gourds, anyway.

It would be a wonderful thing, I think, to be able to cut armloads of blooms to have in the house. So many of my flowers clearly prefer to remain outside, though; just as well given Floyd’s strong preference for “the smell of nothing.” I think when it stops raining and I can pick a few dry blooms, I’ll press them in the back of the atlas. Meanwhile, I have strawflowers to console me. They may be tiny, but they are sweet little spots of color on the mantle or in the kitchen.

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Or anywhere at all.

3 thoughts on “Mid-May

  1. Anonymous says:

    The strawflower picture is gorgeous. I especially like the little one facing backwards with the tip of each petal highlighted.

    Like

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