Monday, June 28, 2010

Tractor Crossing

Things have certainly changed around here. There were farms when my family moved here and orchards. We picked apples and peaches just up the road. If there wasn’t time to go out to the orchard we could stop at the packinghouse and pick out a half-bushel to take home. The neighborhood I live in used to be part of a farm. My friend’s house was built on the site of the old farmhouse. When part of the lawn sank a bit, the original well was discovered. It had to be filled in for safety, of course, but for a while it was a window into the past. Now we have serious traffic jams and housing developments. Our township rescued the last working farm as a tribute to the community’s heritage. The market where fresh produce was sold all through the growing season was spiffed up and expanded but the bones of it are still evident. I was on my way there the other day and saw the tractor-crossing sign. It isn’t new but it caught me in a nostalgic mood. I’m glad the farm was preserved as a working entity rather than an historic artifact. Our roots, literally, come from the land wherever we currently reside and it’s good to remember that.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rabbit at Rest

Oh, the bunnies. We have quite a few. They are adorable and pesky at the same time. One of them has been chowing down on our recently planted hostas. “Eat the wild strawberries instead!” I yelled when I saw it. “And the clover, why don’t you munch on that?” The creature paid no attention. The coral bells we planted last year are a beautiful memory and we gave up on a vegetable garden years ago. I can sympathize with Farmer Brown when he chased away Peter Rabbit. But just when I am feeling exasperated with them, they’ll do something that melts my heart. I watched this rabbit flop down in the middle of the yard and stretch out inch-by-hairy-inch without a care in the world. He (she?) was completely at rest. No fear at all. It made me glad that it felt so comfortable in our presence. And isn’t that how I like to live my life, non-threatening to other beings? How can I worry about a nibble here and there or a plant that ends up nourishing the bunnies rather than being pretty for us to see? Priorities, always priorities.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Red-winged Blackbird

The red-winged blackbirds come each spring. I recognize the males from their red and yellow wing bands, spread on their shoulders like epaulets. They come before the females to stake out their claims for nesting areas. I thought they were marsh birds but I see them each year in my yard, often scattered amid the grackles. The ground is sometimes soggy because of the density of the marl but it’s certainly not marshland. Perhaps this is only a brief stop on their migration. I am glad to see them, whatever propels them to come. The red blazes when they spread their wings – quite a sight. If they feel comfortable or are not in display mode, the red may be tucked away with only the yellow showing. This bird has just fed on black oil sunflower seeds and seems quite at ease. Interesting that when he is relaxed he can keep his flashier aspects in check. It sounds like a reasonable plan. He knows who he is and doesn’t need to flaunt it all the time. Not a bad philosophy.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Clover All Over

The clover this year is abundant. It pops up everywhere: in the schoolyard, on the road median, on obviously manicured lawns and on neglected ones. Clover is a member of the pea family, I discovered, and has nutritional value. It has been used as forage for cows as it contains macro and micro nutrients, which makes good milk and meat. It can be eaten in salads. The bees like it, too. As is evident on my lawn. The bees are flitting from flower to flower. I know because I am down there weeding, rather unsuccessfully, I might add, and see them close up. I wonder if I should be trying to get rid of the clover that is becoming more of the greenery than the grass. When I asked about the wild strawberries last week a friend suggested that I let nature take its course and enjoy the little bursts of red that peep out of the dense leaf clusters. Maybe I should do the same with clover and revel in the joy of the bees. Put in perspective, a lawn being taken over by clover isn't much of a problem. Something to think about as I spread clover honey on my multigrain bread.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Strawberries Are Driving Me Wild!

Doesn’t this look idyllic? What’s better than a strawberry patch in spring? How can I complain but, well, here’s the problem. These are wild strawberries. The fruit is too tiny to pick and eat and the vines are everywhere! They started growing in the deep back of the yard where they went pretty much unnoticed. By the time we became aware of their presence, they had already spread. We like to keep a natural kind of setting, not too manicured but still controlled. Hah! The strawberries didn’t get the message. They squiggled around the existing plants, moved out in long lines into the lawn, skipped over unsuspecting patches of grass and are now invading the side and front grounds as well. I know that the birds are spreading the plants and I am glad that the avian crowd can enjoy the fresh berries; however, these vines do not share space well with others. I am not one for using chemical warfare so I have been pulling them out by hand, a rather tedious job and not particularly effective. The strawberries definitely have the advantage over my limited tolerance for weeding. So (deep breath) I think this may be the summer I learn acceptance – of my interconnectedness with nature, of my body’s physical limits, and of the value of releasing control. Until I fully embrace all of that, does anyone know of an effective, non-toxic way to get rid of wild strawberries?