Category Archives: Nature

The Joys of Spring

Readers, it has finally happened—the event I have been looking forward to since the spring equinox, and it ranks right up there with forsythia and the song of the peepers. Drum roll, please: yesterday marked the first time this year that I was able to hang laundry outside on the line. Happy, happy day! From now until October, laundry will be hung on the line rather than inside on racks.

As if that weren’t enough joy for one week…the maple tree is in bloom. These tiny bursts of red are one of my favorite flowers. They complement every bird, no matter the color, that comes into the backyard—the   goldfinches, the cardinals, the chickadees, the nuthatches.

And what a joy to have birds around me as I worked in the garden. I heard the sharp rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker, the twitter of the goldfinches, the caw of a crow, and the haunting call of a loon.

With such music, it seemed as though the big bed in the backyard was cleaned in no time.

Even more joy: The ferns are starting to come up.

And last but not least, Clif sifted compost for me, and this will soon go in the back garden.

Such a lot of joy for one week. Who could ask for anything more?

 

 

A Week in Two Acts

Act I

What’s Making Me Droopy

On Monday, Winter let us know it was not quite done with Maine by sending a storm that dropped five or six inches of snow. Once again, Clif had to take Little Green out for a spin, and once again,  the town’s snowplow left a tall, hard ridge of snow at the end of our driveway.

The week before, the backyard was free enough of snow that I had hopes of starting to pick up the many sticks that have fallen over the winter. But no, nature had other plans. No picking up sticks for me, no getting a whiff of spring.

Here is Snow-Gauge Clif in the backyard.

And here he is in the front yard. Despite the snow, Clif still looks perky.

However, I am not quite as perky. You might even describe me as  droopy, and I keep repeating, “Soon Spring will come. Soon Spring will come.”

Act II

What’s Making Me Happy

After moaning about Winter and its bony grip, I thought I would balance this post with something that’s making me oh so happy. It’s a picture of a junco—birder lovers, please correct me if I’m wrong—that I bought at a craft fair last week.

Clif and I were at the fair with our books—we did well!—and right across from us sat a talented photographer named Norma Warden. I chatted with her for a bit, and Norma told me she recently moved to Maine from California. She is unfamiliar with the Maine craft fair scene, and I gave her a few tips.

After spending the morning and part of the afternoon admiring Norma’s work, which blends photography with a painterly sensibility, I bought one of her pictures. Birds and art are two of my weaknesses, and when they are combined at a good price, who am I to resist?

The picture is hanging on the wall by my desk, and every time I look at that little bird, I smile.

Here is a link to Norma’s website, where you will find her lovely art selling for amazingly reasonable prices.

Prepare for Astonishment

All right. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s been far too long since I’ve been on the patio. Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve had the fluttering birds around me. But readers, the difference between last week and this week has me in a flurry of excitement. Finally, finally, the snow is melting in our backyard.

Cue the visuals. This was our backyard last week.

Here it is this week.

Is that not progress? Or, how about this?

Last week.

This week.

And the back flower bed is—wait for it!—completely snow free.

There has been so much progress with melting snow that next week I should be able to start picking up all the sticks and branches that have fallen over the winter. Be still, my trembling heart.

I will admit that the progress has been slower in the front yard.

Last week.

This week.

Still, progress has been made.

I can hear the snickers of those who live in places where Spring is in full bloom. But for this Mainer, the dream of Spring is becoming a reality. By the end of the  month, the small patio table will be out, and Clif and I will raise our glasses to beautiful Spring.

Just you wait.

On the Verge of Spring with Snow-Gauge Clif

Finally, finally, March is coming to an end. The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and at long last, the snow is beginning to melt. Once the snow starts going, it does so at an astonishing clip, and Snow-Gauge Clif is here to chronicle the progress.

Here he is in the front yard. I know. Still a lot of snow. But just you wait. By mid-April, it will be mostly gone.

Despite all the snow that still remains, progress has been made. The front roof is now clear.

And look at the driveway. No ice! Be still my trembling heart.

Now for the backyard, which gets more sun than the front does.  There are actually bare patches here and there.

I’ve saved the best for last. Lo and behold. The patio is emerging.

Readers, next week be prepared for astonishment.

March Misery

Readers unfamiliar with Maine might think I’m exaggerating when it comes to the horror of March in northern New England. Au contraire! And I have the pictures to prove it.

This was the view this morning from my office window.

Here is another one from a slightly different angle. Note the spitting snow and the hard, dirty snow banks.

Yesterday, Snow-Gauge Clif did  his measuring duty with his trusty red yard stick.  Hats off to Clif for looking so cheerful.

In the backyard, Clif doesn’t look quite as cheerful. Maybe it was the penguin-walking he did over the icy paths to get there. Fortunately, he didn’t fall and break anything.

Despite all the griping, I do have to admit that some progress has been made in the driveway.  There are actually bar patches of tar amid the ice and snow.

So onward, ho! April is just around the corner, and as I sit at my desk and write, I can hear a male cardinal singing his sweet song.

Spring is coming, albeit ever so slowly.

 

Bring on the Fried Veggies!

We are halfway through March. Although we are still buried in snow, there has been a softening in the air, and as Clif noted, last night the temperature didn’t get below freezing. As far as we can recall, the nights have not been this warm since late fall. So spring is coming, even though we have yet to see her pretty face.

In keeping with planning lots of events for this challenging month, Clif and I headed to The Red Barn for an anniversary celebration—forty-two years! We ordered their crisp, perfectly fried vegetables along with fries and, of course, a whoopie pie for dessert.

More than a little stuffed, on to Waterville we went, to the Colby College Museum of Art. There was a print exhibit, and this wonderful Japanese print caught my eye.  It’s by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858) , and how I love this style. My photo doesn’t begin to do justice to this lovely print.

We also saw a strangely compelling short film called Flooded McDonald’s, where, as the title suggests, a “life-size replica of the interior of a McDonald’s” is gradually flooded.  Built in a pool by the artist collective SUPERFLEX,  this McDonald’s was created with such exquisite detail that it looked like the real thing. Clif and I sat and watched as the waters rose slowly in the deserted restaurant. French fries and burgers floated among paper, cups, trays, and straws. Ronald McDonald fell like an old Soviet statue of Lenin, and it bobbed around for a bit before finally sinking to the bottom. Sounds strange, I know, but this video brought forth all kinds of emotions about our consumer culture, trash, and rising waters due to climate change.

Click here if you would like to see the trailer for Flooded McDonald’s.

We are so lucky to have an art museum of this caliber within driving distance of where we live in rural central Maine.

On a more practical level, here is Snow-Gauge Clif to make his weekly appearance until the snow is gone.

In the front yard, I took a long shot so that readers could behold the glory of our driveway.

The backyard looks a little better.  For now.

As you can see, spring is still a month or so away.