Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April In The Redwood Empire Early Flowerings Continue

                                           Posting  photos and sprinkling a few descriptions  down the page reminds me of those packet postcards  that unfold like an accordion.    This one is for you.

Sun starts showing up sometime after 6 am these days.  This was about 6:30  Monday morning.

Phoebe wasn't ready to get up yet.

We  met brother Steve at the Point Reyes Station House for breakfast.

 Poppies are in out in abundance in the coastal range and the green hills in the morning light  are a feast for the eyes.  My driver  wasn't stopping for pictures and I couldn't have done the views justice.  Spring has come fast and will likely leave us just as quickly.  I hope there are beautiful vistas greening up in your neighborhood  too.

Back at home not everything is green...check out these new rose thorns!

And the iris are bursting open!

The old shed next door is crushed with roses and vines.  The new neighbors will be taking it all down and out eventually but in the meantime I am enjoying its wild abandon.  It is part of my northwest view from the deck and it reminds me of cabins and shed in the valley where I grew up.  My brothers and friends and I had names for all the derelict buildings and stories often sprang from our  fertile  imaginations if not our explorations.

Remember if you click on these photos they will load larger and then use your back arrow to return to the blog.

Grape vines leafing ...we were up in the 80's this week but its cooling down the next few days.

I could have started tomato seedlings, but I haven't  so how could I resist the display at the grocery? I bought  a nice ready to plant specimen called a Brown Sugar Heirloom and maybe if I get it in the ground today I really will have medium sized tomatoes in 75 days.
It will go in a gopher basket of course...

So there it got an accordion  postcard from  the 

with best wishes from,


Friday, April 4, 2014

It's April...Projects Spring Forth and the Blooming Continues

    When a concrete mixer and a pumper truck show up an hour early it gets your attention. Fortunately, Mark knows to be ready sooner than you think you'll need to be and so he was prepared for them.

And that has been an underlying theme for me of late, "being ready."  The various transitions in my life present an opportunity, the freedom of making new choices.  While it  would be easy, on some levels, to reconstitute the work and other situations I had in place before the seven year work jaunt we did in a different locale and while there is the risk of stalling and stagnation, I want to be careful what I engender.    

I find the garden, down on my knees or when it is a bit too wet, on my haunches, a good place to ponder.    

When the trucks and men showed up, I retreated to the back of the garden under the sprays of Bridal Wreath Spirea.

These bushes remind me, I was perhaps 6 years old, of an unsupervised  learning by doing experience I had.  My family's home had a long hedge of Bridal Wreath along the driveway. These bushes can send out rather unruly shoots and  I thought  I could shape them up a bit.  I  began cutting and trimming and stepping back to view my work the way I had seen others do, but  every cut I made created a new problem. I didn't understand the structure of the bush and didn't anticipate what would be revealed as I cut away. By the time I was discovered devotedly trying to fix my mistakes, one of bushes in the middle of the row  was "pruned" just about down to the nubs. 

Poor shrub, it was a  long time in coming back to the size and majesty of its  neighbors.  My father made some incremental adjustments to the blooms on either side to blend in my handiwork as much as possible. 

While  I have learned quite a bit since then, about plants and pruning, they still seem to be always teaching me about love and life. There is much to learn in the garden...  analogies, metaphors, cautions and encouragements...they all seem so  available and I need them for every other realm of life.

I let these do pretty much what they want...

This little bush is Breath of Heaven, I have to be careful pruning it too.
Brushing against it release a gentle fragrance.

I let the poppies decide where and how to grow as well.  If they pop up in the middle of a path or snuggle around the kale, I just can't get myself to pull them.  It is against the law to pick the state flower out in the wild, so why not in my garden?  

These blooming onions have some young poppies to tangle with and they should get along fine.  I don't want to disturb either one of them until it's time to thin or harvest.

                                     It's hard to sit for more than a minute this time of year...the weeds are lush and launching seeds and the cycles of sun and rain are what every little green plant has been waiting for. My intention is often to get the garden pulled together, after all I do need to get on to other things, but the weeds are laughing at me and asking, "Who are you trying to kid?"

The concrete truck can't keep any of the Mark made a skirt for the back side of a shed to use  any "extra."  You don't want extra but it is often inevitable because you really don't want to run short on your project.  His calculations of the slab he needed were pretty close and so our prepared "extra" place didn't receive anymore than 2 hops of a hop scotch. Now we wish there had been a little more extra. But it's a  project for another day, an old fashioned project. No big pumper truck will come, he'll mix up the bags in the wheelbarrow and shovel it out.  

As I was saying, I'm trying to pick up on these lessons to pay attention, be ready in advance and be careful of what I engender.  I see that one project does seem to beget another.  

It's joke!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

More March Flowers In Northern California and a Little Rain!

 Happily, these last days of March have brought us some rain in the Redwood Empire. I watched these clouds float over the neighbors' trees and off to the east after one of our showers and was sorry to see them go, but we've had more rain since then and the ground is soaking it up.

This is a young New Zealand Tea Tree that I planted in the front  garden a few months ago.  Its blooms  are smaller than a dime.

 My next door neighbor of many years moved back to Montana while we were living down in  Carmel. She left a row of Iris on the edge of the street in front of her house. Here are two of her  blooms. 
My iris  haven't quite opened...but soon.


 Some of the  neighborhood oak trees reminded me that not just brightly colored soft petals are beautiful...and I agreed.

California Wild Lilac ...Ceanothus 

Yellow Lady Banks Rose
This is thornless and will climb a tree, drape a roof or trimmed up, behave itself and simply grace the neighbor's white picket fence.

               The yellow glow beyond the field of green is wild mustard which is blooming all over the county.

                                            Some of the trees are just beginning to leaf...

See how the tiny, but oh so many, mustard flowers glow from afar?

Purple  Vetch  of which there are many varieties.

A sampling of Sonoma County March flowers wouldn't be complete, especially in west county, without some apple blossoms.

                               On an unpaved alley in town, backed into a tangle of last year's black berries and vines of green ivy, sits this rusty truck.  I had just tucked my camera back into my pocket and almost didn't see old Tom napping.  He, like the bark of the oak trees, reminded me that beauty isn't all about the first blush of blooming.  And I agreed, but I sure am enjoying the flowers that have popped out this March.

                Some bulbs I brought home from Carmel have finally made their name known to me and are multiplying and blooming in a pot on my deck. They are Wand Flowers ( and yes there are other flowers also called this..hence my confusion...) botanical name Sparaxis.  I can see them from the kitchen table and they look so bright on the grey rainy days we have so badly needed.

So...spring is gets to some corners sooner than others, 
but I suspect it can't be too far away for any of the continent now.
After all, a few more days and it will be April.

Happy springtime.


Monday, March 24, 2014

March Flowers in Northern California

I spent the morning  watering and hoeing around our fruit trees.  Resting for a bit I found a few pictures I took March 18th of blossoms that got me to stop with my camera.

Freesia  a bulb originally from South Africa

Across the street  from us this tree leans out across the road...
I will have to check on it this summer and  see if it makes any fruit.
It is something that sprang up in our absence.

The blossoms are very white.

Many neighbors have planted fruitless blooms,
but  I am looking forward to our trees doing some bearing.
I will have to ask next time the neighbor is out what this showy tree is.
( I learned it is crab apple and it does bear with heavier crops every other year.)

My wisteria has begun to open and the bees are happy about that.

Lilacs are also blooming and the Dutch Iris are fat and ready to furl open.
Roses are budded up and the little green aphids are willing to devour them.

It has been such an early warm spring that winter veggies, like broccoli, are going to seed rather than heading up.  For now, no more sitting down for me.  Maybe in this last week of March I'll get a few more pictures.  In the meantime, back to pulling and  hoeing those weeds.
Happy springtime!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

February's Flowers in Northern California

In January I think the violet's were already blooming but where are my pictures of them? Perhaps in the cold I only took shaky shots. I was glad to find that both white and purple violets still grow randomly all over the back garden. Their blooms are tiny and I only really began to appreciate them when I was down on my knees. 

 In February these crocus sprang forth.  At night they close up and then with the light they smile again.
Every time I walked by these I was delighted and often thought of returning up the stairs for my camera.  My daughter took this snapshot with her phone.

On February 2,  a much appreciated rainy day, 
I hung out the bathroom window 
to capture this photo of the first  camellia blooms.

And then the magnolia trees started in...this one is at my next door neighbors.

Magnolias really are amazing...
you can see why it is tempting to mistakenly call them Tulip Trees

I planted the redwoods in the background  about 25 years ago.

The back garden is getting bloomy...the fruit trees are budding.  Mark made a gazebo for the climbing roses to lean on.  This photo is from Konstantin's artistic perspective. 

 So, making myself at home again in Sonoma County,  I have been outside ...a lot.  March has already been as warm here as it ever was on the central coast.  
Come this summer I'll probably be reading books and writing in some cool cave of a room.

Not that I haven't been reading too, but I'll save that for another time, this was just to share a few of February's flowers.

best wishes,

Friday, March 7, 2014

Early Birds...Busy People...

Do people still send greeting cards in the USPS?  They do! 

Early bird cards have come to wish me a happy birthday.  They delight me in specific and unique ways, 
because of the giver and the way they managed to convey special connections... 

                                 "goldfinches" (c) Nick Wroblewski an artiststowatch card                                      
                                "watercolor" by artist Jane Suess                                                                                                              "teatime" by my friend Debi  printed on her own computer...

 and notice what healthy dainties Debi wants to serve me ( her teas are legend and have been known to have more than almonds and apples...) 

And I marvel they remembered knowing that all three of these women are rather busy, especially right now...but cards have arrived to remind me of friendship over the years through happy days and hard ones...and I am blessed.

Can you read the Swedish Proverb?
* Those who wish to sing will always find a song.*

That thought alone seemed worth sharing.

best wishes!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Memory...a Swamp of Nostalgia or a Call to Action?

Memory is at best,  says John Steinbeck, "a faulty, warpy reservoir."  And so at 58 years old he, with his poodle, Charlie, took a  transAmerica road trip to  reacquaint himself with his country so that he could do more than write about the United States and her people from memory.  I recently finished reading  Travels with Charley. This won't be a book review,  I'm just sorting out some feelings it brought up in me.
  I enjoyed much of his perspective of places I have driven
through and a few I haven't, but my interest intensified when he returned to the place of his birth, not only because of Steinbeck's unique history on the Monterey Peninsula, or even my recent sojourn of seven years therebut because he captures the commonality of the feelings of returning to places dear to the heart only to find them so changed as to be near unrecognizable.
  That was a woody hill with live oaks dark green against the parched grass where the coyotes sang on moonlit nights.  The top is shaved off and a television relay station lunges at the sky and feeds a nervous picture to thousands of tiny houses clustered like aphids beside the roads. (p.194-5)

His descriptions of Monterey, which I admit I am missing some these days,  were tripping off deeper switches of the myths I swaddle of my childhood spent at the foot of a mountain.  
There was a little town...      
  Can't we all, in some way,  fill in the blanks that those ellipses create?  
I find it difficult to write about my native place, northern California.  It should be the easiest, because I know that strip angled against the Pacific better than any place in the world.  But I find it not one thing but many-one printed over another until the whole thing blurs.  What it is is warped with memory of what it was and that with what happened there to me, the whole bundle wracked until objectiveness is nigh impossible. (p. 194 Penguin Ed) 

Steinbeck knows his complaint  is typical, sees how common is his resentment of what is new and those who have brought it, but no sooner than he has acknowledged that we are all the newcomers to someone, no sooner than he has labeled his observations as a "flurry of nostalgic spite" ( p.205)  and a disservice to the Monterey Peninsula, he laments other changes he encountered.  
Nostalgia can be overwhelming, and nostalgia is one  element that can blur and warp memory.  I see it in myself.  I coddle memories of things as they once were as the world changes  around me.  And it isn't that I couldn't make a case for it;  much beauty I have known has been destroyed.   There are other aspects of social change that I don't experience as  improvements or  necessary as well.  
So somehow, taking this little road trip with Steinbeck highlighted for me the need to step carefully around the mushy ground of nostalgia which in its self-focus tends, to keep us looking back.  But there is firm turf in history and informative power even in our own memories worth  keeping and sharing to  encourage and inspire in self and others,  forward focus to protect and strengthen that which remains.