Bubble Gum Clouds!

The Bubble Gum Clouds!

This poem is in honor of memories at Grammy Gibbs’ home in Maine where my sister, Lucy, and I used to swing on the hammock in the summer watching the clouds.  Yvonne Gibbs Fellows Perrault also took pictures of clouds and captured narratives and poems in small photo albums.

The Bubble Gum Clouds!
Oh, the Bubble Gum Clouds!
Come swing on the hammock
To the Bubble Gum Clouds!

The mushroom and billow
Like fluffy soft pillows.
The GROW and shrink
Until you think
They will disappear.

Then, they swirl and pop
Like they are really hot
And we get caught up
In our imagination!

Salmon and pink,
Dusty blue, black as ink.
There’s nothing better
Than a swing to the Bubble Gum Clouds
I think.

The “Little Acreage” Bluebird Log

Adult Bluebird

A male bluebird flies from the nest to bring back a snack for its mate.

Here’s a fun guest blog by friends, Gordon and Nancy, about their husbandry of birds on their “Little Acreage.”

“A few years ago my wife and I decided we wanted to attract wildlife to our little acreage. We already had deer and wild turkeys so we decided to try to attract some Bluebirds. We went on line to see where the best spot would be to place some houses to attract them.

“We then went to the Indian Creek Nature Center and bought a couple of houses. We felt that we needed the houses for bluebirds and the Center could use the donation. We placed four houses on the edge of the hay field.

“As time went on, all we saw were sparrows using the nest so we thought nothing would become of our houses. Then, a couple of years ago, a pair of Bluebirds started checking out the nest. But, we never found any eggs.

Bluebird eggs

Four eggs! Photo: G&N Bena

“Earlier this year we looked in the house and nothing. A few days later we found these four eggs! What a great surprise for us. We now monitor the nest to watch the progress of our new friends.

 

 

 

Checking the other houses we found that a pair of wrens decided the house was satisfactory for their

Wren At Nest

Feeding Young. Photo: G&N Bena

new home and I think they have at least seven eggs. We will be monitoring this nest, also. The other two houses have nests but I think they are sparrow nest. We decided to leave them because they need a home, also.”
Gordon and Nancy

Editor’s Note:  Sialis.org has a fascinating set of pictures showing the progression of raising and fledging Bluebird young.

Spring Haikus

Reminiscing on some Haikus from the past. These seemed a good way to honor spring and welcome summer.

March
Quivering seed pods
Last year’s fruit, This year’s promise
Red buds produce life.

April
April ‘to Open’
Birds beckon, flowers unfold
Hope, re-birth, re-new.

May
Dampness Awakens.
Slow green shoots appear and grow.
Spring bursts in splendor.

How goes butterfly
So gaily in morning dew.
Quiet. Elusive.

Surf booms, with great roar.
Coquinas ride waves to rest
On white, clean beaches.

Pelicans I
Spring aerial art.
Wheeling, gliding all in sync
Pelicans migrate.

Pelicans II
Spring aerial art
Banks, wheel. Dive. Glide in sync
Pelicans migrate.

Mountain tall, distant
Shelters small creatures that live
In harmony there.

Laughter tumbles free,
From souls to the earth.
Children, living gifts.

Understand
Begin where we are
Understanding nuances
Plain talk ease nerves.

Spring Inspirations by Readers

We invited readers of Winding Pathways blogs to submit a photo and short description of a favorite spring scene. The response spanned from the Pacific Northwest to Canada and from the Desert Southwest to New England. Enjoy readers’ reflections on our emerging spring. The essays appear as they came in to Winding Pathways.  Thank you all for your charming observations. Happy Spring! And soon, welcome summer.

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Moon over Sargentina crab apple trees.

“Every year I wait for our Sargentina crab apple trees to bloom.”

As much as I love our native prairie plants and various garden inhabitants, every year I wait for our Sargentina crab apple trees to bloom. Not too long ago, in the company of one of our barn cats, I sat out on the patio and watched the full moon rise with the sweet smell of the flowers drifting over. Bees lay full claim to the blossoms during the day, from the little sweat bees to the bumbles, so I try to give them some space and wait until evening before diving nose-first into the branches myself.
Emily Groom Hemmerling, Kansas

 

 

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Here in NH, spring is slowly unfolding. The barred owls are getting amorous and I’ve heard, although not seen, “our” hawks. There’s a barn swallow that’s building a nest under the eaves, and the bear visited the other night. The weather seems to be lacking any nuance. We are alternating between two or three days of cold, windy, rainy (tell the truth–nasty) days and occasional beautiful sunny days in the ’70s.

Waiting is hard after a long winter, but change should accelerate very soon. The hummingbirds return on average on May 11th, and by then many flowers should be in bloom and the trees that are barely budding today will be fully green. This time of year Carly Simon is often on my mind–“Anticipation”. Sue Fehsinger, New Hampshire

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Bloodroot in bloom

Dazzling white petal surround deep yellow centers.

These Bloodroots are found at the western end of our road.  We have now lived on this road for 17 years and have watched the progression of growth and expansion each year of more and more desirable plants.  The area has become a huge carpet of white under all the trees.  The blossoms on the north side of the road show their faces first and a few days later the blossoms on the south side of the road appear.  Since we have been here, each year it has been the same blooming schedule.  We also have Bloodroots in our yard which don’t appear until the ones on the road seem to be in full bloom. They are only 1/4 mile apart.

I photographed this forsythia at the edge of our neighbor’s property.  I do not have any on our property.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the yellow of the blossoms was brilliant.  I was also trying to get a different angle on the blossoms, rather than the whole bush.
My purple hyacinths are still producing blooms in my small north facing garden.  This year they seemed to have a deeper purple color and more blossoms on the stock.
The Virginia bluebells are now blossoming.  I counted 16 clumps of them in a small area at the top of our dry kettle.  I am even finding small self-seeded plants.
We are privileged to see wood ducks in our channel in the early spring.  They are very skittish and it is difficult to sneak up on them to get a photo.  We see them for a short time and then they disappear until next year. Sue Hrobar, Wisconsin
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Chestnut Hill Tree Trunk

The ancient tree sprouted leaves and flowers all over.

I walked this Chestnut Hill neighborhood in Boston often while living and working in the area.  My first fall a few heavily gnarled trunks of a handful of trees planted in the boulevard strips particularly captivated me.  These trunks reminded me of Italian grandmothers; stout, sturdy, not particularly tall, deeply wrinkled and absolutely beautiful.  When spring arrived I was amazed to see how blossoms not only appeared in their canopies but also sprang from their very bark.   I loved these elderly trees all the more and saw them as clothed from head to toe in spring attire.  May all of us exhibit such beauty and grace as we mature.   Adria J, Illinois and Maine

 

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Cactus Bloom

The desert Southwest alive with color.

Here is my first cactus bloom of the season!  Soon my yard will be bursting with color, from all of the different cacti!

 Coming from the Midwest, this is such a different sort of pretty.  Most of the year it is dry and barren up here in the high desert.  These little bursts of color that pop up in the spring are such a delight!  I love to walk in my neighborhood and see all of the different blooms.  We have a very mild winter and sometimes it’s hard to tell that spring is here, at least for this Midwestern gal.  The flowers alert me that spring has indeed arrived!  Such a contrast to these prickly little fellows.  Add to that the brilliant green of the trees, looking almost iridescent, and the scent of the roses that pop up everywhere, I would say that spring is my
favorite season here. Deb Karpek, Arizona
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Rhododendron

A close up of a western Rhododendron.

After the daffodils and the flowering trees fade is time in the Pacific Northwest for our native rhododendron to flower.   They grow wild on the coast, but also are prized in yards because their large leaves are green all winter. Found growing wild  near Port Discovery on the Washington coast in 1792 by Archibald Menzies who was with George Vancouver, it has been a favorite ever since. Officially it has been the Washington state flower since 1995, but women in 1893 designated it as such for a Worlds Fair that year. The rhododendron pictured is the Washington Centennial rhododendron from 1989. I love the way the blooms start out bright pink and fade to a pale pink as they open.
Jocelyn Berriochoa, Washington state

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Lilac Bloom

Raindrops on lilacs.

I opened the door this morning and looked out to see our lilacs blooming; pretty as could be.  I thought, “Thank you, Grandma, for planting them over seventy plus years ago.”  What a special way to start the day and welcome some of the beauty of spring. Claire Patterson, New Jersey

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 Spring came early to Bedford, Virginia, this year by about three weeks which means farmers, orchardists and gardeners began planting and hoping for early crops. Then to their surprise, we had two serious freezes back-to-back in March. The orchardists were especially chagrined because peaches, pears and apples took a hit. Watch for rising fruit prices.

As a gardener, it was thrilling to clean out the flowers and raised vegetable beds early on. As I began checking the asparagus patch, I noticed two silvery milkweed spears  poking their heads through the soil next to the asparagus. They had begun their quiet vigil for the returning Monarch butterflies. I know the Monarchs have reached their most northern breeding grounds. However, I’ve not seen one returning Monarch here at the Ridge House.

Milkweed buds

Milkweed is an important plant for Monarchs and other pollinators.

How did the milkweed come to be in my asparagus bed? There are a number of possibilities. Perhaps the birds deposited the seeds long ago. Or, the wind may have blown these wispy silky pinwheels into the patch. Another thought occurred to me that the seeds may have been tangled in the straw I scattered in the patch to help hold moisture through the dry summer months. However the seeds arrived, they are a God send as unthinking highway department mowers clear the roadsides, or a farmer applies toxic weed killer, or a home owner wanting a pristine lawn shears them off. The end result is far fewer pollinators like Monarchs and other butterflies, bees, and even birds. Where am I going with this you ask? This sage says, “All my weeds are wildflowers.” Peace.  Jackie Hull, Virginia

 

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Spring in New York City.  Dan Patterson, New York

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Snow is melting gradually this spring. And, despite the string of rainy days lately, at the end of April we still had mounds of it around the house and in the woods.

The slow melt has meant that I’ve kept up with yard cleanup and, while trimming around the edge of the yard, I have come across early gems, like the bright purple crocuses with their eye-popping yellow-orange stamen, nestled among moss covered rocks near the path into the woods.

Elsewhere, along the edge of the woods, the early Spring ground cover, known as ‘William & Mary’, is starting to show its pink and blue blossoms. (I think of my patch as ‘Will & Kate’.)

And, I uncovered the little pile of beach stones that granddaughter Cadence assembled one summer.

Every Spring is different and every day brings different discoveries and possibilities in the garden.

Now, I’m headed out and about to see what new stuff is uncovered before the heavy rains come. I’m thankful we live outside the flood zone, but Fredericton will see another 100 year flood this weekend I fear. Lucy Fellows, New Brunswick, Canada

Magical Mayapples

Emerging Mayapple

Tightly wrapped Mayapple pushes through the early spring ground.

Early each spring we look forward to the appearance of hundreds of Mayapples in our small woods.   They appear like magic, usually after a few warm April days. Only a couple of days after their first shoots poke through the ground our woods are carpeted with umbrella-like Mayapple leaves.

It’s too bad that the Mayapple is misnamed. In most parts of its range, from Florida to Quebec and west to the Great Plains, it starts growing in early spring, flowers in May, and produces “apples” in June or early July. So, perhaps it should be called Mayflower or Juneapple.

 

 

Mayapples

Mayapples populate open slopes.

Mayapples love living in the dappled sunlight in open forests. They spread by rhizomes and occasionally creep out into sunny areas and into deeper, darker woods. One of the delights of this plant is how easy it is to identify. No other North American wildflower sports the large umbrella like leaves that often appear in large patches.

When we look closely at our Mayapple patch we notice that most are leafy umbrellas rising on a single stalk while some are forked with a stem that splits like a “Y” and sporting two umbrellas.

 

 

Mayapple blossom

Beautiful blossoms hide under the umbrella-like leaves.

In May, these double leafed stems each grow one gorgeous but easy to miss white flower that’s usually pollinated by bumblebees.  The flowers are easy to miss, because they are shaded by the large leaves.

The flower grows into a green fruit that looks like a mini lemon.  It gradually turns yellow as it ripens.

All parts of this plant are toxic including the green fruit. However, once the fruit turns yellow it becomes edible and may people enjoy its custard-like fruit. But, be cautious. If eating it for the first time just enjoy a tiny portion of the yellow fruit to make sure it agrees with your system. Always be certain your identification is correct.  A reliable source of information on many plant species, including Mayapple is United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Enter the name of the plant being sought, using either common or scientific name.

 

Mayapple patch

Mayapples spread by rhizomes.

Mayapples create a beautiful ground cover in open woods. They are easy to establish.  Dig a few roots from a large patch and plant them under the trees. They’ll spread by rhizome.