Flurries, with Blowing and Drifting . . .

Blowing and drifting snow?!

No, it was 90 Fahrenheit yesterday (about 32 C) in upstate New York–a record for the date. We don’t have snow but we have flurries and squalls and storms and drifts . . . of cottonwood seeds.

For 11 months and two weeks of the year we love our cottonwood trees (populus deltoides). The are very tall and offer lots of shade; they are tolerant of cold and flooding.

But for two weeks in June, they are more than a little annoying. In early June, they spread their seeds in small fluffs of “cotton” and the sky is full of this snow.

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The fluff covers the ground, and drifts and swirls in the breeze. Rain tamps it down but also turns it into a nasty mat that clogs downspouts and gutters. Cats track it in and the wind blows it into every open door.

The fluff sticks to sweaty skin and wafts into cocktails. It collects in spider webs and on the flowers of every blossom. This thin layer of fuzzy white acts as a scrim, blunting the bright colors of June.

The good news is that it lasts for only two weeks. By the end of June, the airborne fluff will be gone and only the residual mats of seed will remain. Oh, and the sprouts that I’ll be pulling for the rest of the summer.

In other early-summer-outdoor-news, every sunset seeks to outdo the previous night.

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IMG_7680And the goslings grow.

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Is early summer fulfilling your expectations and delighting you?

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Paradise, by the Morning Lights

I am pleased—nay, relieved—to announce that paradise has arrived chez nous.

Paradise, according to my standards, that is.

Your idea of paradise might be very different from mine. Yours might not include early morning walks, with long shadows and stunning green.

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Maybe you don’t care for birds singing and roosters crowing, and woodpeckers pecking. Maybe the sight of old cats finding their inner kitten and frolicking in the sun fails to impress.

Maybe you’re bored with flowers blooming and grass greening, and the sound of lawns being mowed. Maybe the uncurling, unfurling, of tender hosta leaves doesn’t move you.

A lake free of ice and full of sparkles, with boats venturing out in spite of the water temperature being a mere 40 degrees F (that’s about 4 C)—maybe that doesn’t spell paradise to you.

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The signs of spring and the hints of summer abound. The promises of things to come are all around.

My paradise isn’t a static place—paradise doesn’t stand still. It whispers and suggests and promises that even more and even better is . . . soon.

Peonies, Solomon seal, lilies of the valley . . . they will come.

Old chairs on new grass, and the good old, same old sun. Kayaks in the water, bikes on the road, hot dogs on the grill. Music and song at the campfire.

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And two of our favorite people will arrive from their Florida home and take up residence just down the road.

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My paradise is . . . well, paradise! I hope you have your own, whatever it looks like.

The North Country’s Revenge

Every spring, I desire revenge.

Spring comes to the entire rest of the northern hemisphere before it gets to us, you see.

For months, from February on, I look at your photos of snowdrops, of crocus, of hellebores and daffodils.

I see tiny buds sprouting on your trees and read your descriptions of warm, sweet-smelling breezes. All while my world and any promise of spring are still covered in drifts of snow. I get a little bitter, looking at your spring.

And, by the time spring arrives to me and my snowdrops and daffodils show their pretty faces, people are tired of looking at snowdrops and daffodils and have moved on from the rapture of spring.

It’s not just me—Facebook users and bloggers all over the Northeast know my pain.

But, this is the time of year we get our revenge!

Because we have autumn in the North Country of upstate New York, in the Adirondacks, and all over New England.

We have glorious, perfect autumn here. It comes early and seems to last and last.

We have apples. We have pumpkins. We have mountains and lakes and a sky that is Adirondack blue. Click on the thumbnail photos and drink it in!

 

Or at least the sky is Adirondack blue when it isn’t some moody and evocative shade of autumn.

We have oaks and poplars, and birches and beeches, and ash trees, and their leaves all turn fabulous colors.

But, more important, we have maple trees.

We have maples that turn flaming red and orange. They aren’t satisfied with giving us the gift of sap for maple syrup in the spring. Every fall, the maple trees up the ante on themselves, and they give us glory.

This photo is not the most spectacular but it shows exactly what this part of the world looks like right now. All the ingredients—the colorful foothills of the Adirondacks, the remnants of corn that has been stored as ensilage for cows, the bright trees against an Adirondack blue sky, and the ladder reaching into an apple tree, providing access to that perfect autumn fruit.

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So, in the spring, when you are parading your colors and beauty, I’ll be enjoying them. But, I’ll also be sighing and waiting for mine, in October.

Revenge is sweet.

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I wish I could say I took this photo but it’s by Brendan Wiltse. https://www.facebook.com/brendan.wiltse.photography/

 

 

 

An Early Summer Morning

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I’m not much of one for exercise. I know I should move more but tend not to.

When I come home from an early morning summer walk, though, I wonder why I don’t do this every day. A walk like this gives new meaning to that old song, “morning has broken, like the first morning.”

Shadows make me and my cat-who-believes-he-is- a-dog appear taller than we really are.

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We deliver maple syrup to my mother and her husband, who are already making pancakes—it is Sunday, after all. The cat opts to stay with them.

I can walk down the middle of the road if I want to, and I do, just because I can.

I see only three other people in the 3-plus miles I walk.

Our 80-something neighbor, the Energizer Bunny, out weeding her gardens and laughing at me for getting exercise in as artificial a way as taking a walk, when I, too, could be weeding.

The neighbors who make the rustic furniture, heading off to sell at the farmer’s market, where the rich folk from downstate buy expensive pieces for their summer camps.

The big guy walking his tiny dog and begging it to finish up so he can go back home for another cup of coffee.

I see a lot more animals than people.

The doe and her fawn way off at the edge of the field—I took a photo but it didn’t translate.

The bunnies who tear away from me, with their cottontails high.

The squirrels who are busy, following some imperative to mate or gather nuts or whatever squirrels do in their spare time.

I see the cardinals and the hummingbird.

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And these guys.

I hear all the other birds—the kingfisher and songbirds I can’t name. I follow the sound of tiny tapping to see the littlest woodpecker ever, getting its breakfast.

The only bird I don’t hear is the neighborhood rooster who cockle doodles his doo all day long but never, it seems, in the early morning.

The flowers, too, seem most striking early.

I know I will spend the day listening to children squeal, as they dunk themselves from a small sailboat or paddleboard. But they are, as yet, silent, still sleeping off the sugar-high hangover from one s’more too many.

Right now, the sailboats are at the moorings, the big beach towels are still dry and waiting on the line. No jet skis or deep-throated bass boats mar the quiet.

There are smells, too. The lake is low this year and, frankly, sort of whiffy. Someone mowed grass last night and the campfires still waft faint wood smoke.

The breeze is chilly this early but the sun is rising hot on my back.

Is there anything better than a quiet summer morning?

Nope, except, maybe, a summer sunset . . .

 

A Happy Ending, in the Garden

I came late to gardening, only really getting started in the last dozen years or so.

There was no real family tradition of growing flowers at my house or, if there was one, I was oblivious.

My husband and I have learned mostly by trial and error . . . lots of trials, lots and lots of errors. But we had some successes and were pleased.

Then, five years ago, our area was hit by flooding. The lake we live on reached record-high water levels and stayed there for 6 weeks. (As you know, you can click on the small photos to see more detail)

Our lawns and gardens were covered in water and sludge for weeks, and everything died.

Everything died.

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We had a tabula rasa. A nasty, brown blank slate.

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So, you will understand the awe I feel now, all spring and summer, when beauty happens here. I am dumbstruck that we have accomplished so much, with so little knowledge but hard work and patience.

The flowers amaze me, enthrall me.

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This pergola stands where the dirt was in the previous photo. It’s now blanketed in honeysuckle and wisteria.

In spite of all this beauty, only one part of the garden matters to some people.

We grow catnip under the protective cover of staked wire baskets so “some people” won’t rip it out by the roots and eviscerate the little plants.

They get drunk on catnip, I find my intoxication elsewhere.