Sunday, February 19, 2017

Inkling of Spring

Magnolia stellata 02/19/17
I had an inkling of spring.

In the garden today, while tearing down a bit of old fence, I had an inkling of spring, provided by my Magnolia stellata.  I had an inkling and I'm ashamed to say that my first thought, after having the inkling, was to wonder about the exact definition and origin of the word inkling.  You might think I should have been more concerned about the Magnolia, but such a straight-forward journey seldom occurs inside ProfessorRoush's attention-deficient mind.  It was inkling first, and then Magnolia.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary: inkling derives from the Middle English word yngkiling, meaning to "whisper or mention," and perhaps further from the verb inclen meaning "to hint at."   Okay, so now I know that even the linguists aren't sure of the origin of the word, but at least the definition is fairly straightforward, meaning "a slight indication or suggestion."  Okay, I got it, I had a hint of spring today.  If so, why didn't I just think "oh, there's a hint of spring?"  No, it couldn't be that simple, could it?  I had to make inkling my vocabulary word of the day.

Pussy willow 02/19/17
Returning our attention to the Magnolia stellata, however, it is important to understand that my inkling derived from the fact that it has decided to begin peeling off its fuzzy winter coat quite prematurely, enticed by a few days of warm sunny weather.  Those delicate buds are exposed far too early, no proper garments under the coat, just lacy undergarments exposed before full consent is obtained.  I fear that the cold spell predicted later in the week will send a chill deep into this flower's innards, an ill wind blown up its skirt.

Likewise, I also noticed that the pussy willow (sorry the photo is blurry) on the other side of the garden is showing a little fuzz at the end of its prepubescent buds, an enticing bit of maturity destined only to fall victim to the icy reality of this cruel world.  Why, oh why does everything want to hurry along at a breakneck pace of living in the garden?   You want to shout at them, "Hush little darlings, go back to slumber, it's far to early to grow up and bloom."  But, nay, they heed not, speeding towards the inevitable damage of a reckless youth and headstrong nature.

Now I have an inkling of disaster.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

It Begins

Two days of unseasonably warm weather last Sunday and Monday drove ProfessorRoush out of the house into the garden to begin what will assuredly be a solid spring of garden restoration, rejuvenation and redesign.  I roused this old sleeping garden gnome, covered as he was in the debris of daylilies and Echinops, from winter slumber, and put him to work alongside me puttering over and poking within the cold ground.

I began in the 55ºF heat wave of Sunday, sheltered from a brisk north wind on the sunny south side of the house, and I cleaned the bed bordering the patio free of dead iris and daylily leaves and the remnants of invasive annual grasses.  It was warm there, warm enough to shed the jacket and sweat a little while absorbing enough sun for Vitamin D synthesis and basking my reptilian brain in sunshine.  I always like to start garden cleanup here, so that the many crocuses and daffodils are not disturbed as they rise and will then flower freely and stand out in the neat clean bed.  The roses here will have to wait until closer to spring.   

Then, on Monday, as the temperatures rose past 60ºF, I jumped ship at work and rushed home to start on the beds surrounding the front (north) side of the house.  The cleanup bug had bitten me deeply by now, and after collecting the remains of Orientpet lilies, daylilies and other perennials, I became convinced that my first major act of the summer had to be the destruction of the two overgrown Thuja orientalis 'Sunkist' that border the windows of the garage.  Fifteen years young, the original plant tag had listed their ultimate size as 2' X 2', but obviously, despite an annual haircut and a more drastic trimming once or twice through the years, these 6 foot giants had overstayed their welcome.  Off with their heads!

There, that's so much better, isn't it?  Now the Orientpet's won't have to lean away from the towering encroachment of the Thuja and the whole area looks brighter and more in ordnung to satisfy my Germanic soul.  I'm not sure what I'll plant in their place, probably another mislabeled 2' X 2' evergreen, but I feel I've made a good start on the garden year.

I didn't stop at the evergreens, however, and made a clean sweep over the entire front bed, removing peony and Knautia debris, trimming euonymus, and freeing the forsythia to shine alone.  The wind is a little more brisk across the front now, but my soul is lifted and refreshed.  That is, after all, the goal of our gardens, isn't it?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Blue Ice

The garden waits, entombed in ice.
Life suspended, frozen time.
Stiff and brittle, brown and silent.
Bowing low to winter's will.

Buried deep, it hides within.
Fire smolders, glazed in rime.
Ice the master, cold its maiden.
Staying spring with binding chill.

Blue the ice, reflecting sky.
Bluer yet, on cobalt glazed.
Crystal water stretches down,
Straining for the frozen ground.

Ice has come, and ice will go.
Sun will shine, new longer days.
Winter trembles, spring will win.
 Melting cobalt's shining crown.
Just a little ode to the ice storm that really wasn't.  Yes, we got some ice here in the Flint Hills, perhaps a quarter inch, more likely an eighth.  Not nearly the shel-icing predicted and simply an expected moment of winter caused by the collide of different weather fronts.  The only bright color in my garden is now the bottle tree, a shining gem with a fantastic multi-faceted coating.  It was for this moment that I cemented the post deep in the ground years past, stalwart against the worst of wind and storm, to shout defiance at the winter's worst.  I could only wish today for sunshine, to make it glisten and shine, if only for the briefest moment. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Still Here...Until the Icepocalypse

ProfessorRoush hasn't slept in, self-defined as any prone position of my body after 6:00 a.m., for years, but I had plans to make it until at least 7:00 a.m. this first morning of a three-day weekend.  Unfortunately, Miss Bella decided that she needed to protect me against the meanderings of monsters sneaking about the prairie and she moved up from the bottom of the bed to sit on my chest, facing the door and huffing to indicate her alarm, around 6:30 a.m.  When she didn't stop, I got up to prepare defenses against a home-invading horde of Huns and found that my mildly obese mutt was correct in all ways except for the home-invasion.  This particular horde of Huns was perfectly content to keep grazing around the mailbox, undisturbed by the barking Bella behind the glass storm door.  Perhaps they were expecting delivery of a late Christmas package and awaiting the mail truck.

We are expecting an ice storm here sometime tonight, and while I am happily anticipating the enforced solitude and the early garden pruning that the storm will initiate, the rest of Manhattan seems to be fearing that the end of civilization is upon us.  A quick trip to the grocery store for sliced ham on the way home last night revealed that the neighboring population had cleaned out the local supermarket of all bread, milk, sticks of butter, and, to my surprise, every package of lunch meat available.  I came home, amused and complacent in the knowledge that we have enough dry cereal and pasta in the house to tide us over until planting weather.  I'm even more secure that we can make it to warm weather after this morning's sighting of potential food on the hoof.   If they are going to eat my roses, the least they can do is hang around for dinner.

I'm quite serious about hoping that we get enough ice tonight to flatten the garden.  At the end of next week, temperatures are forecast in the mid-50's and I'm in a perfect mood to bulldoze and start over anyway, so que sera sera.  I miss you, Doris Day.  What a beautiful voice and bubbly actress.  Once upon a time, movies and television programming was more interesting than a group of profane idiots arguing over who should or shouldn't be sleeping with whom.  


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