We Inch, Slowly, Toward Spring

Spring                                                                 Waxing Bee Hiving Moon

Kate comes home tonight.  Yeah!  I miss her when she’s gone. I’ll follow our usual procedure and pick her up at the Loon Cafe, conveniently located at the end of the light rail service 650-herb-spiralfrom the airport.  Makes the drive much shorter and I get a good meal in the bargain.

After the biting and the barking and the adrenaline I figured out a somewhat complicated solution to the Rigel/Sollie problem.  It involves making sure that one set of dogs is in their crate before admitting the others to the house.  This way nobody trespasses on anybody else’s territory.

It demands a careful watching of when Rigel and Vega are away hunting so I can let Sollie, Gertie and Kona inside.  Or, alternatively, when Rigel and Vega are on the deck and the others are out hunting.  A bit baroque I know but I have no more indentations in the leg.

(pics from April of last year)

As the Bee Hiving moon goes from New to Full, our yard will lose its snow and we will have several species of flowers in bloom, a few vegetables in the ground and as it begins to wane we should have our new bees hived and happy in their new homes.  There are things that need to happen before this last, not the least moving the hives to the orchard, cleaning all the frames of propolis and burning the old hive boxes and frames I got from Mark, the bee mentor.650-apple-blossoms

Seeing the bulbs planted in the fall begin to emerge always heartens me because it reminds me of hours of labor spent in the cool air of late October or early November.  We won’t be here for that time next year, so probably no new bulbs this year.

In fact, I’m declaring finished to our orchard, garden, vegetable, bee expansions.  We’ll stick with no more than three hives, the raised beds and other beds we have in the vegetable garden, the trees and bushes we have in the orchard and the flower beds we have in place now.

We’ll always have to replace dead plants and put in new ones in their place.  We have to care for the fruit trees and bushes, plant vegetables and maintain the bee colonies so we’ll have to plenty to keep us occupied.  I just want to get good at the stuff we have and begin to slowly limit the work we do over the course of the year.

Warfarin for Mickey?

Fall                                                 Waxing Harvest Moon

A day made for bulb planting, fall clean up.  Kate worked out front pruning back the roses, spirea and decluttering.  I got started with 24 bulbs, a kaleidoscope mix of various tulip colors.  Tomorrow morning will find me back out there, kneeling in what passes for prayer these days, tucking small living things beneath the earth, feeding them and pulling the blanket back over their pointy little tops.

This is, too, the season when mice, content to feed outdoors during the growing season, return to the warmth and comfort of domestic life.  Kate gets exercised when she sees mouse droppings, so we put out the decon and the ropax.  Seems ornery on our part but spreading disease is on theirs. Wonder if Disney ever included warfarin in a Mickey Mouse cartoon?

Also bought some more half pint jars for honey, bulb food for a our winter sleepers, a snack when they wake up, a 50 pound and a 20 pound bag of dogfood, plus two bags of dog treats.

Saturday sort of stuff.

Weekend Delights

Fall                            Waxing Harvest Moon

Ah, the weekend.  It came just in time for me this week.  Much to do and now some calm, free time in which to do it.

Ray, the Andover senior who mows our yard, raked leaves on Thursday, so I have bags o’ mulch sitting on the patio.  It’s way better than seed-filled hay.  Wish I could find some marsh hay, but the leaves will work well, too.

Bulbs today.  Kate and I plan to discuss bulb placement, then I’m going to go to work.  Also this weekend, writing the future of liberal thought, or Liberalism:  III.  Lots of ideas swirling around, gonna have to corral’em and find homes for them in a structure that makes some kind of sense.  Looking forward to that.

Writing always pulls me in, usually makes me happy.

Feeling Rushed

Fall                                              Waxing Harvest Moon

With Latin on Friday and my tour day on Thursday things can get a bit rushed.  I’m feeling a bit behind right now since my sententiae antiquae are not done and my translation of the reading remains.  The Baroque tour is done, however and I look forward to giving it twice tomorrow.  Tomorrow, too, is the Thaw exhibition lecture.

Not sure when I’m going to get my sententiae done, especially the vexed English to Latin, maybe late tomorrow night, just like real school.  Over the weekend it’ll be bulbs, bulbs and the first draft of the Future of Liberal Thought.

In and Down

Fall                                          Waxing Harvest Moon

60 pink daffodils have a new home in the soil surrounding two cherry trees and a pear tree.  These trees are the first ones visible out our kitchen window, so the blooms will cheer us up as spring begins to break winter’s hold next year.  Bulb planting relies on, requires darkness.  Beauty, like Snow White, goes to sleep beneath the autumn sun and lies as dead all winter long.  With the kiss of the sun prince flowers emerge.  Perhaps the years I’ve spent planting bulbs in great numbers, as many as 800 in some years,  triggered my affection for darkness.  In the first few years of daffodils, hyacinth, tulips, snowdrops and croci I often thought of those bulbs, covered in snow and cold, waiting out the winter in their castle of food and nascent stalks, leaves and flowers, a feeling similar to the one I get now when I’m at work in the garden and a bee, a bee from Artemis Hives, alights on a flower near me.  Both of us, insect and human, have valuable work to perform in the garden and we labor there as colleagues in every sense.  The patience and persistence of the bulbs beneath the snows and cold of December and January has always touched me, a sweet feeling, a well-wishing for them in their lonely underground redoubts.

That’s part of the darkness focus.  Another, earlier part, came when I began to feel uneasy with spiritual metaphors that took me up and out of my body.  Heaven.  Prayers that go up.  God being out there.  The minister lifted up above the congregation.  A sense that the better part of existence lies beyond the body and this moment, somewhere high and far away.   I began a search for spiritual metaphors that took me down and in.  Jungian psychology helped me in this search, but the clincher came after I had decided to study Celtic history in preparation for writing my first novels.  A trip to north Wales and two weeks in a residential library there tipped me to the existence of holy wells, springs that had sacred meaning to early Celtic religious life, long before the arrival of Christianity.  Here was a metaphor that went down and if used in meditation, could stimulate a spiritual journey in the same direction, no longer trying to get out of  the body or up and far away.

The spiritual pilgrimage that began from that point has led me on an inner journey, into the deep caverns and cathedrals of my own Self, traveling them and finding the links between my Self and the larger spiritual universe, the connection not coming on an upward path, but on the ancientrail of Self-exploration.  I do not seek to go into the light, but into the caves.

The Garden in September

Lughnasa                                       Waning Artemis Moon

The onions, red, yellow and white, are in the storage room ready to go on the wooden racks when I have a minute.  The honey, too, is on the bottom row of our shelving unit, collected in canning jars and resting in the boxes that held the canning jars in the store.  Kate’s just put up 7 packages of frozen kale and swiss chard, for use in the dead of winter when greens from the garden seem very special.  She’s also making applesauce from our six apple crop.  I picked them a bit too early for eating.  Chicken breasts and pie dough have been set out to thaw since I will make chicken and leek pot pie later today.  This is a busy time of year, but it is also a fun and satisfying time.

The potato plants have not died back, so they await digging and drying and storage.  The garden of 2010 has begun to wind down.  I still have to plant garlic, mulch a few beds, weed the perennial flower beds and later plant the bulbs, but the number of tasks has begun to dwindle even though the size of some of them make a lot of work still left.

A Two-Person Garden

Lughnasa                                    Waning Grandchildren Moon

Kate and I have shifted our bedtimes and risings to 6:30.  This allows us to get out to work in the garden when it’s still the cool of the day.  This morning Kate continued to restore the original look and feel to the orchard while I finished up the mulch in the front, moved her growing mound of pulled weeds and gathering lettuces and kale for today’s meals.

There was, too, the matter of the original guild plantings in the orchard.  Guilds complement each other and, in this case, the fruit tree under which they grow.  Over the last two years we’d let the clover go, after a two year effort prior to that eliminating what Paula, owner of Ecological Gardens, called, “…that damn quack.”  The good news:  no quack back.  The bad:  clover all over.  In the process we lost some of the plants in the guilds.  I know what they are now and will replace them over the next couple of weeks.

It was also weed identification day, so I spent time in the orchard, my “Weeds of the Northeast” in hand, shuffling through the pages trying to find a match.  The ones I could not identify I have concluded for now are plants that have a place.

We’re now going to work an hour to two in the mornings together.  That should be enough to manage.  I used to be able to care for our perennials in an hour a morning, but our various plots have grown beyond that.  It’s a two person yard now and Kate’s wonderful recovery has added her back to the team.  Yeah!

Today perennial bulb orders to go in, too.  Over the vegetable and bee years, the ramping up years, I’ve pretty much left the old perennial beds to themselves, only occasionally working them and then  usually when the situation demanded, rather than requested, me.  Now we’re a bit further along with the orchard, the vegetables and the bees and I want to return some attention to the bulbs and perennial flowers that I love.  Bulb planting happens in October when the rest of the garden has died away, so there’s little conflict in time for that chore.

Tulips and Daffodils, Oh My!

54  bar steady  29.77 3mph ENE dewpoint 32  Spring

                            New Moon

This is a fecund time.  I spent a couple of hours today putting down pre-emergent weed prevention in the flower beds, moving some mulch completely off now, the garlic, and putting Cygon on the Iris to prevent borers.  Cygon is now a prohibited insecticide so my stash is pretty much it.  Our beds are not near running water and we have a storm drainage basin to catch run off so I don’t see my limited use of Cygon, once or twice a year on about 40 Iris, as a great health hazard.

Just being outside is wonderful.  Where the snow melts back, as it has begun to do even here, we often  find tiny tunnel systems in the grass.  Voles dig these under the snow all winter.  At first it seems that they might kill the grass, but in fact, I think the opposite is true.  Where they go, the soil gets aerated and the grass continues to grow.  It looks strange and possibly harmful when you first see it. 

The Iris have grown about six inches and now is the time to get those damned Iris borers.  If you raise Iris, you know what I mean.  If you don’t, well, they’re slimy and icky and eat the rhizome.  Yeck.  

Tulips and daffodils have also begun to press through the snow and frozen earth.  With the showers we get this week I wouldn’t be surprised if we get some blooms, especially if it warms up, too.