Monday, May 30, 2011

Geese at the Library

Where are these geese going? There is no water available, no food. They are in a busy parking lot, a dangerous place for geese. And where is their flock?

Geese are all over lately. I see them walking across busy streets, exhibiting not a care in the world. It’s common to see a line of geese in spring – goslings in the middle, mom and dad front and back – taking strolls. Cars stop, fortunately, to let them pass. Sometimes a whole line of cars on both sides of the road will sit patiently to let them amble across. It has become a frequent site in my community as more geese are staying around. Geese Crossing signs have joined the signs that warn of ducks and deer.

Geese mate for life so this was probably a mating pair. Nesting time is March through May. It would make sense that they would be looking for a good place to raise their young. But in a parking lot? Surely there must be a better site for a nest.

But then - they are in the public library parking lot. I am, too, which is why I discovered them here. Maybe they came for a copy of Petunia by Roger Duvoisin or Gossie by Olivier Dunrea to read to the babies they plan to have. Or perhaps they are a young couple seeking a how-to on nest building. I’m sure the librarians will be able to help; they always help me when I have a question.

I came out of the library with an armful of books and looked around for the geese. They had gone. I hadn’t seen them in the fiction stacks but then they might have gone directly to the children’s section. I wished them well. I’ll remember to tell my grandchildren about the geese at the library the next time they visit.

Are you looking for a good children’s book about geese? Here are some fine choices:

and how about some info?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Smoke Tree

A few years ago we were looking for a small tree for a particular spot in our backyard. We found a smoke tree in the nursery and chose it because of its deep, purple leaves. It had tiny flowers that grew in groups and added to its allure. We didn’t understand why it got the name smoke tree until the flowers matured; then it was obvious. The cluster of flowers looked like puffs of smoke. Quite an ethereal effect.

It is a versatile plant. It can be a tree that grows about 12 - 15 feet or trimmed to be a shrub – several make for a nice border hedge. It tolerates a variety of soils and actually prefers dry feet to being over-watered. The color of its leaves varies depending on the amount of sun it receives, although it thrives in full sun or partial shade. We liked it so much that this year we bought another one to plant on the other side of our yard.

I like the quality of illusion of the smoke tree. What you see is not really what is there. And what is there, your mind really doesn’t see. So much like life where things are hidden within plain sight. Even with this lovely tree, I found out that the seeds are poisonous to small animals and handling it can be an irritant to one’s skin. Beauty vs. the beast. It keeps things interesting.

Here’s a brief look at the smoke tree:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Peter Rabbit's Relatives

I thought I had it made. I bought a flat of organic broccoli plants and left it out back before planting the veggies in the side garden. My husband kindly watered it each morning and the leaves were flourishing. I was somewhat concerned that the squirrels would get to the plants before I did but I watched them sniff at the flat and then move on. They didn’t seem interested in broccoli at all. Was this, finally, something I could grow without interference?

Then one morning there were a only couple of munched leaves and then nothing. Just one skinny, leafless, truncated stem in an otherwise empty container. I was ready to vilify those squirrels when I saw one sniff the pathetic stem and leave it alone. Hmm. Maybe they weren’t the culprits. If the squirrels didn’t eat the plants, what did?

“The bunnies are back,” my husband said. “I saw a couple of them in the front yard.”

Aha. Peter Rabbit’s relatives. I usually love to see rabbits around. They are particularly charming animals. I remember the time when I was down on the lawn weeding and a young rabbit nibbled his way through the clover to within a few feet of where I was working. We looked at each other and peacefully continued our tasks. There we were, just two of nature’s creatures companionably doing our own things. But now…

I wouldn’t do anything harmful to rabbits though I would certainly like to have my vegetables able to grow. With fingers crossed, and a cage or two, we planted a watermelon vine and some tomatoes. I know rabbits have to eat, too, but I should think there is enough grass, clover, wild strawberries, and sunflower seeds to keep their tummies happy. I silently sent a message, Stay away bunnies. I would hate to have to call on Farmer McGregor for help. On second thought, maybe a fence will do.

The humane society is the best Farmer McGregor if you have rabbit problems:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tulips Today

Today I was noticing that there is an abundance of tulips around here: deep purple (almost black) flowers down the street, red and yellow ones up the block, and a riotous display a short distance away. Tulips appear early in spring, sharing that distinction with crocuses and daffodils though there are later blooming varieties that come up in April and May. Most people associate tulips with Holland but the flowers originally came from Turkey where they were named “tulbend” or turban because they were thought to look like the traditional Turkish hats.

Tulips are welcome the world over, with more than enough varieties to satisfy any taste. The colors have been overlaid with meanings, mostly having to do with love and relationships: red for passionate love, yellow, once thought to signify hopeless love now represents cheerfulness, pink is for well wishes, white for forgiveness. And purple, of course, is for royalty. Even so, there are layers of meaning for each color and florists tend to be sensitive to them as tulips are popular holiday favorites.

I find tulips uplifting. They help announce the end of the cold and sometimes harsh winter, for one thing. There is nothing like their vivid splash of color to awaken the senses. They also remind me of the mystery of the hidden, their bulbs enfolding their essence to be appreciated upon flowering. And how fascinating to know that even when the earth is frosty there is life continuing. Tulips as metaphors? Why not? Inspiration is everywhere if we look for it.