Monday, May 26, 2014

pink again like morning...

first fragile flower
explosions of pink peony
perfume my morning


Sunday, March 23, 2014

St. Patrick's Day


Winter dismantles slowly this year, while spring creeps in around the edges of our mid-March cold, mantling the nooks and crannies with bits of new green, Lenten bursts of blooming, a chorus of frogs.

I've been trying to notice spring, sick as I am of winter, and I've had to look hard and mostly low for it: sturdy tulip flesh strong enough to poke through stiff mulch, my first-ever crop of daffodils suddenly poking slender green fingers out of the cold dirt, sedum shining a brighter green among the dead leaves left over from fall, where the snow shovel leans against the house, still ready.

Our Lenten rose is brazenly forging ahead and ignoring the dire predictions for snow, blooming passionately at odd with its austere namesake. I say "our," but we inherited it with the house. It's in an awkward spot out back, but does so well there I've let it be.

My daffodils, too, seem braver than I'd like. Earlier this week they arose from the bare ground and today several are pregnant with yellow blooms. A pioneering peony has also peeked through the soil, rid and spiky, a surprising survivor. The three peonies I ordered last fall, three heirloom varieties, scented and expensive, arrived in late October. They don't arrive as bulbs, exactly, but more like roots, looking like sickly potatoes gone all to eyes and stalks. The instructions were emphatic--don't plant them too deep, and plant them early enough so they "settle in" before the first frost. I planted them late, in early November, and hoped for another mild winter to make up for my laziness. Bitter cold came for a week mid-November instead, and the peonies (scented! expensive!) had barely three weeks to adjust to the garden before the freeze. I covered them with evergreen boughs and hoped for the best. Now it seems at least one is making an attempt at life.

Spring is a worrying time for gardeners after a bitter and snowy winter like this one has been, a bit of a crap shoot, and as soon as the sun's angle is high enough to provide some thin warmth we are out almost daily in the yard checking for signs of life and death. Did the azaleas survive? Are their brown leaves a sign of winter dormancy or that they succumbed to the bitter cold? The tiny shrubs I planted last fall are bare sticks, waiting out the last gasp of winter arriving this weekend, I hope, and not casualties. But never mind--I've ordered eight more seedlings to provide either replacements or an abundance for years ahead. If it's ever warm enough to plant them!


The winter storm warning that came the weekend before St. Patrick's Day didn't sound too bad. Just in case, though, I spent the weekend filling bird feeders and wondering how to protect the daffodils, surely too slender to survive the expected 2 - 4" of snow and sleet. The snow moved in earlier than expected Sunday night, not starting as rain, and bringing us far more than expected: at least 10 inches at our house before the storm moved out to sea. Temperatures stayed below freezing, and St. Patrick, had he returned, would have found no spring green for the memorial to his death but only swaths of snow and ice under slate-gray skies. I'd done nothing to protect my daffodils, not really believing we'd get much snow so late in March and wouldn't it melt quickly in any case? The dog and I spent the day staring, dismayed, at the white, unbroken expanse of unshoveled driveway and unplowed street, trying to recall the exactly one hour so far this year we'd been able to sit outside in the sunshine and feel actually warm.

The week between the storm and now, although containing the spring equinox, was almost entirely bleak and cold, and Tessa and I, with our sensitive joints, grow ever more stiff and impatient for warmth. An afternoon or two of temperatures in the 60s and sunshine is not respite enough--I still go to sleep under layers of down and wake up reaching for my sweatshirt. Cold has settled in again for the predictable, forecastable future, and there are rumblings about more snow on Tuesday. My daffodils are still green and grown taller despite the snow but have not bloomed, and those yet-unseen golden emblems of spring seem impossibly remote.

I would help winter's dismantling if I could. Instead, I must put my faith in the annual instincts of the plants and birds, consoling myself by documenting spring's mantling, clothing myself in the patience of the earth and the hope of the season and knowing that, in time, everything will rise again.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The twenty-sixth luminous thing...

...fog and sun.

End of Bridge Street, looking to the island
Fog on a sunny morning really is luminous, it seems to glow and breathe and move with a sort of sentient consistency, but a tricky one, always out-maneuvering you, sneaking up from behind.

This morning we got up early to catch the low tide (6:30am) and walk across the sand bar to Bar Island, part of what gave Bar Harbor its name. There's about a four hour window where the sand bar is navigable. Bar Island is part of Acadia National Park, and the sand bar was a short walk from the b&b, starting at the end of Bridge Street.

Mom and I walked the island path as far as the old ruins, and then I walked on up to the summit.

Looking north towards Bangor from the sand bar

Looking towards Bar Harbor, shrouded in fog

Bar Island

The far end of Bar Island and fishing boats moored overnight

Looking back towards Bridge Street

Bar Island (right) and Mt Desert Island (left), which is the island Bar Harbor is on

Bar Island and fishing boats from the sand bar, low tide goes out a long way

Some boats completely beached at low tide--you can see under the catamaran (tall mast)!

Island trail, Bar Island (Acadia National Park)

Looking from the trail into the harbor

More photos of lupines in the fog

Ruins of an old house

trail to the summit

Cadillac Mountain and boats in harbor from the summit of Bar Island

Me at summit--note summit cairn in the back left of photo

Summit cairn

Starting back--tall ship in Bar Harbor

Mom waiting for me at start of Island trail

Fog lifting for walk back, view across sand bar

Bar Harbor from sand bar

Mt Desert Island looking north, away from Bar Harbor

Looking back towards Bar Island

We walked from Bridge Street to Cafe This Way for breakfast

finding cafe this way

blueberry pancakes were so good I forgot to take a photo until halfway through!

Great bathroom photography

Back downtown we walked down towards the harbor, and captured the famous moose...

on top of a restaurant, we think he lights up

one of the porcupine islands
 We drove back to Sieur de Monts and the little museum and gardens there, inside Acadia National Park

Museum from outside, founded in 1929

authentically built wigwam, made of birch bark

white birch trees

spot the frog...

pitcher plants

nodding trillium

very small bog

We next drove around the main part of Mt Desert Island, over to the more authentic fishing villages of Seal Cove and Northeast Harbor. Shots below are of one of the working harbors.

We drove back to town and went to the larger part of the Abbe Museum, which was very nice. This room is the "Four Directions" room, built to symbolize the importance of the four directions to the local native american tribes.

An early dinner (steak!) and back to the b&b. Fog was again coming in, and some misty rain, and the chill that fog wraps around you. My room has a small balcony but I didn't get much chance to use it! We are suddenly tired and ready to go home....