Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Down the road a piece

My husband admires Atamasco lily along a South Carolina road.

Christmas fern and Dutchman's breeches, a Hunterdon County roadside

Prairie restoration, Highway 12 and Hackbarth Road, Koshkonong Township, Wisconsin

A Catskills valley, Delaware Township

?, New Jersey Turnpike

Assisting vernal pool species cross the road, Sourlands

Cormorant and Route 1, Princeton, New Jersey

Sunday, April 17, 2011


A Sourlands slope, dappled with ramps.

Ramps. Warmth and refuge on the south side of a diabase boulder prompts lush, early growth.

Tornado, I've seen one, or what I thought was a tornado, along the Route 80 corridor, across Ohio's expansive corn fields. A local, certainly could have told me, tornado, yes or no, and most likely given it a more subtle name. Northern Ohioans are, no doubt, familiar with weather. It seems that there are hardly trees or rocks to stop the plows or the wind from traveling unimpeded for miles. I wonder what grew on those flat plains.

A woodland sedge pierces an American beech leaf.

Last night's heavy rain found its way into our basement through a small hole near the steps. Water poured as though from a faucet. The sump pump and the long ago dug drainage ditch that surrounds the yard worked well. The trees, shrubs, and herbs did their work, too, holding leaves in place, slowing the rain's flow, and drinking well. Everyone has grown.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Meadow through the Year

Starting with April 1, here's two views of the meadow. The first image is looking south, the second looking east. I'll post an update about once a week.

Snow, possibly the last of the year.


April 9:
It seems as though meadow lays down, finally, around this time. It had offered shelter for overwintering birds, but now the stalks make way for spring. I believe the deer bedding down add to the matting down.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Japanese honeysuckle on blooming spicebush. Some had been cut last year, some remains, climbing up the branches.

I watch the dried and bleached foliage of young American beech rattle, shake free, and fly, finally. Leaves like a warbler fallout. The curves of the Sourlands, those that I observe from my porch while hanging laundry - are beginning to grow bristly scales of trout lily leaves. Tulip trees, light lovers they are, have opened their buds. Sedges, woodland and meadow, pierce through last year's duff or thatch.

Spring, yes, spring is here at last. With its odd hot day, rushing the Callery pear's stinky blooms open, and giving me a sunburn, sending ticks racing up the sides of my son's playpen... I'm not ready for these things.

In winter, especially this winter, so snowy and icy, with so many cold nights, me shuffling to the bathroom after a diaper change or nursing, guzzling a glass of water or eating a yogurt at some odd hour, 12:30 AM, 2:30 AM, 4:30 AM, flicking on the porch light each time, still snowing, power is still on, hours are still passing, snowing yet, I so looked forward to spring.

And, now I have a child to show this world to, sharing its secrets. Now, I have to alter my language, find new ways, better ways to talk about plants, the land, people... No more "This g*d* multiflora rose is everywhere." "I hate that Callery pear." I'll have to find new ways to tell the truth, share my thoughts, begin with good thoughts, and allow my son to have his own. It's a good exercise for a naturalist.

A back corner of our yard, from left to right, a brief tour beginning the forest: The bendy tulip tree/home to a squirrel family, the understory of multiflora rose, the new exclosure for the woodland garden, the yet uninhabited nest box, the metal, hanging birdfeeder (visited by a bear? knocked off the fence, feeder separated from the chain...also found a big, up-turned rock nearby...). Now back to the left: the flowering dogwood in the fence hoop, the horno, new small garden spot with little bluestem, lowbush blueberry and columbine, and finally a big wet, chunk of maple that we used as a splitting stump - well on the way to becoming soil.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring / Disgusting Home Office / Best Heats Oil / Space Junk

Meanwhile, spring is here - hermit thrush fallout on Saturday, rue anemone is blooming, bloodroot is unfurling, heard a black throated blue warbler & towhee call, robins are fighting and a bluebird is diving right into the fray (too close to the bluebird box?), and ticks are about.


As I write, I take in globs of my lunch, a Malaysian recipe with a rural new Jersey spirit: venison, peas, and carrots in coconut milk with lemon grass and chilis. The Pyrex leftovers dish balances on my knee and the keyboard wrist pad. My posture is terrible, my digestion about the same as I sit hunched and twisted. No doubt there are others on similar style working lunches.

This is the disgusting home office. Very convenient, I can follow my instincts at home. A bit of food falls on my sleeve... what would you do? Get up and retrieve a napkin from the kitchen? Allow a precious second to be wasted in transit? Or, use your mouth as a wet vac?


This morning I put Jared's Wednesday morning stewardship volunteer clothes in the laundry. He and Jim take a volunteer group onto a nature preserve and rip away at the invasive plants with chainsaws and loppers. His clothes reek of 2-cycle engine oil. Unfortunately, the Trader Joe's brand of laundry soap I purchased for $3.99 plus tax also reeks of 2-cycle engine oil. The finely rendered aroma must come from one part "with lavender essential oils" as the label claims and 99 parts petroleum-based fragrance. At least it's "pH balanced" for someone's water. Regardless, the entire basement smells like the "Best Heats Oil"/"Oil Heats Best" (you have to drive it to know what I mean) section of the New Jersey Turnpike with a drop of (lavender) crude.


I also disassembled the Eureka Pet Lovers vacuum cleaner to clean the canister and filter. I'm not sure what else to say but space junk is everywhere these days. Debris in outer space, debris in my space, taking up space. This vacuum is for Pet Lovers, not gardeners with a woodstove that vacuum once a month. I need a vacuum to vacuum out my vacuum.