Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hello Hellebores

This was the scene that we woke to this morning, swirling white, coming down pretty heavily. But it didn’t last long, by afternoon the white was all gone. I like the effect of the railroad ties holding the snow and outlining the path of stones.

This afternoon I took a brisk walk and it was windy and cold, but the sun came and went and it was good to be outside. Lots of birds were down along the creek, golden and ruby crowned kinglets, a phoebe, winter wrens and a hermit thrush were all twittering along the banks, staying just ahead of me as I walked.
The past week or so the hellebores or Lenten roses have begun to bloom- I just put that one together, last week was the start of lent and that’s when the blooms start and they pretty much last through spring. An Ah Ha moment for me!
They are quite delightful and these are some very special ones we picked up a few years back. I can’t help loving things that bloom in winter.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Winter days drag on

Wintery weather returned today with cold rain and a threat of snow that never materialized, which is fine by me.  Enough already, lets get on with spring.  By my gauge we are about 2 weeks behind normal in terms of plants leaving dormancy.  There isn't a sign of a grey-green speckled trout lily leaf pushing up yet and the daffodils that always bloom around Valentines day are still in bud, not a peep of golden yellow yet to be seen.

Guess I just have to be patient and continue enjoying the winter landscape a while longer.  One of my pleasures of winter is studying the tree trunks, all of the idiosynchrocies and strange shapes in the trunks, roots and branches come to life when there is no green around to mask or distract from the framework of the forest.

Here's one of my favorites, it grows down near the confluence of Tilley's Branch and Morgan.  Who knows what caused this collection of small burls, all of them on the downstream, south facing side of the trunk.  There's something playful in them that catches my eye when I pass by.

And if there is nothing else to amuse, the cows are always enchanting in their warm browns and white, their long eyelashes batting over their huge eyes, their topknots looking stylishly unkempt.  They find us a curiosity too and come close to see what we are up to with the camera.
Watch out for that hot wire Addie!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Crocus are up, Onions are in

Nothing says spring quite like the first crocus.  And here they are. 

Today was a stunning warm day, finally, it reached the 60's, seems like it's been almost 2 months since we had a day like this one.  Perfect for getting into the garden and digging in the dirt.  The onions arrived yesterday so that was perfect timing.  I dug the beds and added compost and fertilizer and planted about 15 dozen plants.  I'm trying a Red Marble cippolini this year along with the tried and true yellow onion Candy as well as a couple dozen each of white and red.  I order my plants from Dixondale Farms and they seem to be reliable and reasonably priced.

Along with the onions today I sowed carrots, spinach, beets and turnips.  I put row cover over those to help them along in germination, it's supposed to get pretty cold again later this week.

With the nice weather I've been getting in some long walks and took this photo of one of my favorite trees on the land.  We are fortunate to have lots of old growth beech along our creeks, they are some of my favorite trees and stand like great grandfathers gripping the hillsides with there massive roots reminding me of elephants feet.
Tomorrow starts another hectic week of work and running here and yon, so now, it's off to bed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Salamander eggs in cold puddles

Another busy week and therefore a dry spell on the blog.  Between working at my two jobs and taking on volunteering at 2 more, it seems that time got away from me this week.  Add to that the excruciating pain physically and financially of getting an emergency root canal Monday afternoon and well, I guess you could say I've got an excuse for being a bit off my game!

The cold weather has continued unabated as well and left me a bit ornery, I'm ready to spend more time outside and its just not been very welcoming.  But I do want to follow up on an earlier promise, to share another of my favorite winter scenes from the garden.
This is our weeping redbud; Traveller.  I've shared photos of it here in spring and summer but one of my favorite times is winter when the little moss patch that David planted beneath it glows in the sun and the sinuous shape of the trunk is most striking.  In another month or so the branches will be covered with tiny pink flowers at each leaf node.

I spotted amphibian eggs last week in the puddle of a hole left beneath a fallen tree, I think they are from the spotted salamander.  You have to look through the reflection of the trees and sky and then you might be able to make out the two fist-sized milky white sacs beneath the surface, each containing dozens of eggs. 
David planted peas yesterday.  It's supposed to get up into the 50's this weekend so I intend to plant carrots, spinach and radishes.  Fifteen dozen onion plants are due to arrive next week so I better get the ground ready for them too.

Bring on a warm sunny day, please.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Anthropomorphic Carrot

We dug the remaining carrots the other day, got about 5 pounds.  Many were multi-pronged, not sure why accept that David transplanted some when they were small and I think that might have given them cause to make more than one root.  I'm planning a soup with the gnarlier ones combined with turnips harvested before the cold, finished with that good fresh cream from next door.  Maybe a touch of curry?  

My latest column finally made the paper yesterday, an ode to these cold winter days we've been seeing for weeks on end.  Here's a taste:

"Smoke billows down the roof and falls past the picture window, rolling across the yard into the woods where it hangs like a misty curtain in the bare trees. The brilliant morning sun, low over the horizon, shines straight through to the far side of the house.

Logs sizzle and pop inside the woodstove, water burbles on top, these sounds punctuate the inertia of a cold winter day. We read, and read, and read, dozing in the sunbeams like a pair of cats, only stirring to put another log on the fire or refill our coffee cups."

Click here for the full piece.

Tomorrow is the first day of the four day Great Backyard Bird Count sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  It's fun and easy to log your birds on line, if you are a birder, check it out by clicking on the link above.

Today the fierce winds of yesterday have passed and its sunny, but the chill air remains.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Still snow on the ground

It's incredible to me that we still have snow on the ground after 8 days.  I feel grateful that we didn't get hit with the huge storm that landed further north the last few days, knocking out power and leaving folks buried.  We have had a tremendous amount of rain.  The creeks are all really high and the ground is soaked.  I think getting peas planted this month may be a real challenge if we don't see some warmer, drier weather in the next couple of weeks. There is sun in the forecast but still below normal temps for the next week.

I also can't believe its been a week since I've blogged but I've been very busy with work, despite the weather, making plans and getting things in place for the Growing Healthy Kids community garden to hit the ground running as soon as the weather does warm up.  I'm excited about our gardens this year, we've expanded one garden and will be recruiting new families so that we may have as many as 50 families during the growing season.

I've got two fascintating photos to share from the snow week.  While out walking last week when there was still a fair amount of snow on the ground, we spied the tail of a snake sticking out from under the snow on the edge of the trail.  Seemed strange and not a good situation for the snake as it was getting dark and cold.  David dug a hole down into the leaves near by and off the trail and dug the snake up and moved it down closer to the earth and covered it back up.  Don't know what kind of snake it was, it was alive, but moving slowly.  Randy- if you're reading this- do you know?  It had a pale green belly.

On the same hike we also spotted this ice formation in the creek that looked just like a pear!

The sun is out today and though its chilly, I'm planning a nice long walk as its been cold and rainy since Thursday and I'm ready to get back outside.