Friday, April 09, 2010

The greening

Lawn grass has greened and grown so aggressively during the last few days I thought fleetingly last evening of disentangling a lawn mower, firing it up and getting to work --- but didn't.

I don't mind mowing lawn, but has it ever occurred to you what a waste of energy and resources those acres of neatly clippled stubble represent? The lawn guy turned up a week ago to fertilize the front and side yards and nuke the crabgrass and creeping charley. There's nothing about that process I like or even approve of, but do it to keep peace in a neighborhood where charley is taken by some as a personal affront. The much larger back yard runs wild and free (although it's mown, too) and to heck with critics.

Years ago I read a book, "A Sense of Seasons," by Jean Hersey, who with her husband had built a house in a New England meadow and decided to mow only a 10-foot strip around it to keep varmints and grass fires at bay. The rest of the meadow was allowed to do its thing, but clipped once in the fall. That, I thought, was a sensible arrangement.


Elsewhere spring's advance is more subtle. Brown residue from last season's growth mutes meadow, prairie, marsh and pasture and although the timber looks as if a green mist has settled over it, leaves are just beginning to emerge.

I took to the woods on deer trails in the late afternoon yesterday stalking violets, but found none --- only colonies of mayapple emerging on the hills and other greenery that will send forth blossoms soon. Won't be long.

Flowering occurs, of course, but outside of our beds of imported bulbs it's subtle ---- as in these catkins on a shrubby plant I can't name at the marsh.


The real carnival of life right now involves our fellow sentient critters. The swallows seemed to have gone mad with joy (or nesting instinct) yesterday morning at the marsh, swooping by the dozens around my head as I walked along the shore of the pond, perching in pairs atop nesting boxes they had claimed.

Red-winged blackbirds, the most melodic, were perched singing on cattails and dried stalks --- and I saw for the first time this season an old friend, a red-headed woodpecker.

Other varieties of woodpecker came to the feeders last winter, but no red-heads. I got to know the red-heads first, when I was a kid, because of their habit of perching on the front porch roof while pounding their way through a layer of asphalt shingles to reach lunch lurking in the layer of decaying wooden shingles beneath.

On the water, pairs of Canada geese patrolled in pairs like so many miniature galleons --- honking in annoyance at the human intruder --- as smaller ducks slooped alongside.

Too many disaster reports this week --- destruction and deaths, the appearance in an old friend who has survived previous assaults of an especially aggressive form of cancer ...

It was a good morning to park worries, woes and concerns on a bench and merge for a while with the surroundings, let the wind blow it all away. They start out by telling us that we're atop the critter pile, that the earth and everything in it is ours. But that most likely is just a delusion.


Ed said...

Spring never starts for me until I find my first morel. It won't be long I suspect.

Lynne said...

What a beautiful post, Frank. I enjoyed it very much.