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When May Comes...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

 I awoke on a May morning to birdsong, as I always do this time of year. April is tough. My brain has to transition from no song to a sudden chorus coming in the window. And early May is worse, but better too; worse in the sense that my brain starts processing and sifting all those songs and winds up yammering to me so that I wake up thinking about what I'm hearing in my "sleep." Better in that the birds are back! and singing! and I will have to slowly learn to sleep through the robins and cardinals and wake up for the prairie warblers and yellowthroats. So this morning was kind of fun, because the song sparrow who now sings under my bedroom window has one song type that I find quite sweet.


 Listen to this video. He'll sing twice, once at 09-12 seconds, and again at 24 seconds.

 Do you hear the familiar climbing scale we all learned when we were three? He's singing the Alphabet Song! A B C D E F GGGGGG...he never goes on to H I J K LMNOP. But oh, the musicality in that voice! He's hitting the notes perfectly, perfectly. And my brain grabs onto that and runs with it, even before I'm awake. The brain is a wonderful organ. It can be extremely annoying, when I need sleep so badly and rarely seem to get it, but there it is.

 Right after I made this recording (dominated by the pond fountain, burbling away, and my iPhone's obsessive focus on the window screen) he switched to another song type, not nearly so anthropomorphic. And don't animals charm us most when they remind us of ourselves? Sigh. It's true. For those curious, a field sparrow's sweet accelerating trill opens the video, then a blue-winged warbler sings bee-buzz, followed by the song sparrow. Then comes the field sparrow, overlain with the brown-headed cowbird's piercing Twee dee dee! and the song sparrow finishes the 30-second clip with his Alphabet Song again. It's so rich. It's late May. Abbondanza!

Blackberry spring. 

 Missouri primrose says YEAHHH!

And THIS is what happens when you put cow manure and water on a peony that's been struggling for years. It says YES THAT IS WHAT I HAVE NEEDED. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

 A blue jay shows up at the feeder with a soiled front. I know what that means. She's nest-building, using wet rootlets to weave her amazing solid platform, and it's dirtied her breast as she shimmies around to form the cup.

As if to corroborate this bit of situational awareness, her beautiful mate swoops in with a gular load of sunflower hearts for his hardworking wife's breakfast. So nice to have someone to cook for you when you're oversubscribed. 

 Everybody's oversubscribed. The bluebird babies grow fat and fill my nest boxes.

Oh what can happen in only a week!!

I must check this cardinal nest again. I saw the female pop off of it as I walked down the orchard path and found these three exquisite orbs full of protein and hope.

On my next peek six days later (May 16), here's what I found. And I've stayed away since. 

The temptation is great to look often. But predators are watching, sniffing, wanting, so I don't. 

I don't blog often in April, May and June. It's not for lack of material. It's for lack of time, for my cheese being spread too thin over the immense cracker of obligation. I've got everything I can do to keep up with this yard, the gardens, my family, friends and a too-hectic speaking and traveling schedule. And the moment I get a breather, and get to stay home for a few weeks in a row, in come the baby birds to be fed every half-hour. It is both my joy and my ball and chain, and balancing it all and keeping the joy is the big trick.

On days when I haven't slept much and it seems that everything and everybody needs a piece of me, and life goes roaring on all around me, I remind myself that I'm just one good sleep away from being on top of it again. And that's the truth. 

I get a good sleep, then spend a whole day, sunup to dark, gardening and doing heavy yardwork, and the sleep and the work fix the broken parts, glom them back together.

The Pig of Good Fortune smiles on the inkblot someone dribbled on the emerald grass.

The Encyclia from Guatemala laughs out loud, filling the studio with clove and honey.Twelve years it's been growing and blooming, and I treasure it more every year. 

This doughty plant, brought home as a withered bulblet in my bra, reminds me that everything good is worth waiting for. And as DOD pointed out, I'm already waiting.

Grandma Cora (proper name, Madame Chereau), blooms as she's bloomed for more than a century. Planted in the Adirondacks exactly 100 years ago by my friend Caroline's Grandma Cora, who was then young and just married, this treasure has been passed from hand to hand and state to state. It's blooming in Caroline's South Dakota garden, in my sister's garden in Connecticut, and soon to go to Massachusetts, too. We will have to count up the states where Cora blooms.

First with a few blossoms, and many furled buds

And then, when the May sun shines at last, with a full fanfare of cobalt violet, and the heady aroma of fake grape Kool-Aid! And there are orange shirts on the line, and I just have to lie down in the sweet smelling grass for a minute and breathe, unable to believe that I get to live here

in all this useless beauty I've planted with my own square and calloused hands. The nails are broken and there's dirt under what's left, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thank you for all your expressions of love and support after that last difficult post.  I occasionally must gather myself and tell the full truth of what's going on, or I can't go forward. It takes me months to work up the words and the courage to do it, but I owe you that, and it's the best way I've found to put one foot in front of the other and keep going on. Chet Baker is doing fine. He's still good for a 5-mile walk, and his coat is coming in shiny and new. I can't tell you how much it means to me to run my hands over a mostly smooth coat,  to see the little hairs standing on end as they grow in, and to blow a raspberry on that round belly, too.

He puts up with a baby bluejay who likes to jump suddenly up on his back. He tucks his rump and scoots out from under her, which deters her not one bit. You must click on this to see the look on his face. Ut oh. Here she comes again.

Chet Baker, yep, he still comes along. And I treasure every moment that he does.

May 26, 2017

Happy birthday to Hodge (yesterday), The Light of Cambridge, Star of Middlesex County, and to Ida (today) who is in every flower and bird and shining through the sweet souls of my children, too.


Oh how I love to read your writing! Too see the beauty you see and to zoom in on Bacon's stink-eye. A lovely gift this morning--thank you.

Thank you, Julie, for all of it. I appreciate the effort, your spot-on words, your honesty - a gift to us, your readers. You've created beautiful place for you and Chet and others in your life. Kim in PA

my gosh ... i loved every minute of this post. I was searching the net for info on a gardenia I received as a gift ... purchased at a Trader Joes.. and came across your blog.. oh my gosh ... i am so happy i did. thank you!

What an explosion of joy all in one place. Made me think of a favorite saying - Irish proverb or not. "A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything." Chet may not help on the long sleep front I know fur sure he's your guy for good laughs :) Sun doesn't hurt either. Glad you're getting a good dose!

Julie-I loved the story about Grandma Cora's flowers. My mother, 1918-2002, surreptitiously planted mysterious bulbs in the flower beds all over our neighborhood, where I grew up. All I know is she called them rain lilies, and they bloom after every good rainstorm, pink trumpets sprouting from unexpected places in all the yards, many now owned by someone who never knew her. I call them "Elise's lilies", and every time I see them, I smile and remember her.

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