cleanup week 4: manna from heaven amid meteorological havoc
IT’S TRYING SO HARD, the lawn is, to find its inner green. I’m trying so hard, I am, to find my inner gardener. Each of us keeps getting hit on the head almost literally lately—but can the siege, perhaps, of the endless winter have finally ended? Might the next week or so actually bring spring?
A wind event of 18 hours’ duration April 15-16, more forceful than I have ever witnessed, tore off neighbors’ roof shingles, shredded the plastic “skins” on farmers’ greenhouses and massive silage covers at the dairy down the road, felled giant trees and put out the power for a couple of days (again!). But it also brought things not usually seen up close down to my level.
I regard what dropped from the sky as manna from heaven, as opposed to “incoming ordnance.” Limbs, of course, but that’s not exceptional—they just require a reprise of the season’s first chore, the game of pick-up sticks.
Littered among them were buds and barely open flowers of the giant native red maples (second photo above)—not something I usually get to examine in detail. And then down came the jelly fungus or jelly ears (just below). (I learned later from John Michelotti of Catskill Fungi, who gave a day of mushroom-growing workshops at my place yesterday, that they are edible, and a traditional ingredient in hot-and-sour soup.)
And then, after the wind quieted, it snowed, and then it snowed again (above).
Each white morning, an adult male rose-breasted grosbeak appeared for breakfast at the feeder as if nothing had happened, presumably blown in by the wind storm. His arrival was perhaps two weeks ahead of my earliest notations about his kind showing up here.
Blessedly, the previous Saturday had been clear and quiet out, and I actually did some chores:
There are brave souls in evidence, oblivious to it all: The so-called February daphne (Daphne mezereum, above) has been in bloom nonstop, and oh, how welcome was the awakening of one of my most treasured Eastern natives, the twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla). When I posted its photo (top of page) on Instagram, someone took the words out of my mouth: It looks like an altricial baby bird (well, or organ meat). Remember from last week why plants like this emerge from the ground not green with chlorophyll but infused instead with the blue and red pigments called anthocyanins?
Bravest of all, and also most agile (as the rest of us clumsily maneuver persistent squishiness underfoot): a sharp-shinned hawk showed off up close. He or she is always here, hunting in the garden, as are the slightly larger Cooper’s. But this individual didn’t just swoop in in a flash to pick off a songbird every so often in the astonishing, unexpected aerial display such as they are known for. The little raptor actually spent each post-wind afternoon this week perched contentedly in a magnolia right outside my kitchen window, where I could get a rare close look, as I had at those other treasures. (Not close enough for a photo, sorry.)
And so it went: Wind, snow, more snow. Then Saturday, the temperature was noticeably warmer, and so is the forecast. It’s said that snow is nature’s fertilizer, and so maybe those two white insult-to-injury mornings were the dose we needed to get up and running. Is that the first flush of green I see trying to overtake the persistent tan and muck of the lawn? I think so; yes, yes. Here it comes.
- (All the weeks so far of 2018 in the garden are gathered here, if you missed previous posts.)