Category Archives: Flowers

Of Red Squirrels, Hummingbirds, and a Spirit Dog

Despite the cool nights and the occasional cool day, summer has come to Maine. In fact, as someone who has seen a lot of Maine summers, this, so far, has been an old-fashioned June with some rain, some sun, some warm days, some chilly ones. It is only during the past five years that Maine Junes have  become so warm. This June is a throwback to the old days, and it feels quite normal to me.

Rather than warm weather, summer in Maine is heralded by green in all its cool shades. Our backyard, indeed all of Winthrop, is enveloped by green—the leaves, the evergreens, the ferns.

Our patio is our summer living room, and Clif and I spend as much time there as we can. For much of the year, we are cooped up inside, and it is a relief to be outside, unencumbered by hats, coats, and gloves.

Yesterday, after doing yard work, we had our tea on the patio. A red squirrel, in a nearby tree, scolded us. I suspect the little creature wanted to raid the brown bird feeder, and we were too close for comfort.

“Have we ever bothered you?” I asked. “No, not once.”

With a twitch of the tail, the red squirrel continued to stare at me and chitter even louder.

To add to the backyard noise, hummingbirds whirred and chased each other away from the feeders. Occasionally, one of them even got something to eat.

A swallow tail butterfly fluttered by, too quick for me to get a picture. Best of all, the dragonflies have come, and the mosquito population has dropped noticeably.

This spring, I neglected to stake the tall irises, and they have drooped pathetically over neighboring plants—begonias, daylilies, and evening primroses.

Next year, I will try to do better, but even though the irises have fallen, they are still beautiful.

As I sat on the patio and listened and watched, the spirit of a black and white dog zoomed around the perimeter of the yard. Barking and racing, setting the boundaries.

Then the past and the present came together—the birds, the spirit dog, the flowers. So much happening on one little half acre.

Finally, I want to thank my blogging friends for all the kind words over the past two weeks, which have been hard for us. It is often difficult to know what to say when someone is grieving the loss of a beloved pet, or even worse, a family member or close friend. But simple words of sympathy really do help, even something as basic as “I am so sorry for your loss.”

Many, many thanks to you all.

 

 

Make Way for Lupines

In Maine, early June brings many delights, but few are as beautiful as a field full of lupines.  Every year, I look forward to their tall purple and pink spikes in the deep green grass. Lupines look lovely in gardens, but to me they are best in masses, in a field.

Here is a closer look. It doesn’t hurt to have some yellow buttercups in the mix, either.

Closer to home, in my gardens, everything is thriving. The hostas, not yet chewed to green lace by snails and slugs, are thriving and whole.

The chives are nearly in bloom. I like their spiky pinkness.

On a sadder note, yesterday we sprinkled Liam’s ashes in the backyard that he loved so much, by the ferns by the fence. We have a memorial bench in honor of my mother, Clif’s mother, our previous dog Seamus, and now Liam. The Buddha was purchased in memory of Clif’s mother, who was drawn to Buddhism. The cat was for my mother, who had a special fondness for these independent creatures. Now we need a stone dog to complete the set. A collie, if we can find one. We figure that will be close enough to a Sheltie. (Seamus was a Sheltie, too.)

This bench does not make our backyard a morbid place. Far from it. Instead, it is a place of peace and delight, where the memories of those we have loved come to visit us. They are always nearby.

 

Comfort Me with Gardening

It has been a long, sad week without our dog buddy, Liam. I keep listening for him, wondering where he is. I save him bits of toast.  Is it time for him to go out? Very foolish to think these things, as I know he is gone, but old habits are hard to break.

Fortunately for me, the weather has been oh so fine, and I have worked in the gardens all week. Such a consolation, and I can only be grateful that Liam’s decline did not happen in the winter when we were stuck inside. Instead, like a terrier, I have been digging and moving hostas to fill in empty spots left by less hardy plants that didn’t make it. Finally, after nearly thirty years of gardening in this dry, shady yard, after spending too much money on plants that either died or didn’t thrive, I have given into hostas. Now, in our yard, hostas rule.

However, amid the calming foliage of the hostas, there are some budding irises, my favorites..

And front or back, everything is green, green, green. Our yard is held in the palm of the forest.

Amid the green, I love the dash of blue of the little fountain, given to me by “the kids” on my sixtieth birthday. When Clif and I sit on the patio, we can hear the gentle splash of water. So soothing.

And then there’s this dash of orange, which always livens things up.

Believe it or not, wild Sherlock is a comfort, too. He and his gentler sister, Ms. Watson, bring purring life to our evenings, settling beside us as we watch TV.

And so it goes into June. Soon the heavy gardening will be done, and after that, it will be on to bike riding. We’ll probably never be able to keep up with my blogging friend Tootlepedal, who recently biked seventy-six miles in honor of his seventy-six years, but we are going to step up our game, so to speak.

Biking, flowers, time on the patio. Come, summer, come!