rain

Maybe having brushes with 3 tropical storms and a tropical system, but I cannot remember a year that I have seen so much just general rainfall.

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I do not watch news programs, nor do I subscribe to the local newspaper. So I have no idea what the cumulative rainfall is. It does not really matter. I live in a coastal town so mostly the ground is sand. We have trees so we have leaves and pine needles that fall, decompose and form a thin layer of topsoil. Subdivisions and developments truck in soil to make lawns, landscape crews mulch at least once a year. So not actually on the beachfront there is soil. Not rich, it’s sandy, but soil.

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Still, the rain drains and soaks into the ground within an hour. Not much standing water so thankfully some areas have less mosquitoes. But the area where my neighborhood is was once a watershed.

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Since we are also within 10 miles of the Cape Fear river everything from here drains there.

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I have way overplanted my backyard. In maybe 20 x 80 feet I have three fig trees, two Althea, two hydrangea, a gardenia, two (baby) paw paw trees, a Daphne, beautyberry bush, pussywillows, tansy, 3 lemongrass, asiatic lilies, penstemon, wisteria, passiflora, angel trumpet, old man’s beard, butterfly weed, butterfly bush, iris, daylilies, Black-eyed Susan, echinacea, mint, rosemary, iron weed, elderberry, star anise, Carolina allspice, Vitex, clethra, daisies, firecracker flower and invasive monarda. It’s really hard to walk around back there. I have a few pots with herbs, tomato plants and some okra.

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I have seen two rainbows this week. One a few days ago and one this morning. Because they are a promise, seeing them always makes me cry which is strange. Gratitude I guess. Relief maybe.

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Because it is July, and the rain, most plants are loaded with blooms, and bees and butterflies. I have often wondered where do they go when it rains.

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Wherever it is, they always reappear when the sun comes out and the flowers dry. And the spiders. Especially the ones on the water spout.

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bees

This morning after rescue dogs Lily and Lulu had their breakfast and walkie we wandered the backyard. I disrupted the peaceful silence by crashing a clay-potted plant. I brought out a broom and as I swept up the soil heard an unfamiliar sound.

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Bees.

The busy summer sound of bees buzzing has been blatantly absent this spring. But I turned to see bees flying around the flowers, on the flowers.

The importance of these ordered, efficient, productive little creatures has been emphasized for a while. From honey production and pollination to economy and hobbies. Some have ventured to say if we lose our bees we starve.

I hope we don’t lose our bees. They are an integral part of everyone’s summer. But I remember chasing lightning bugs, or fireflies when I was little. I haven’t seen them.

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Butterflies, beetles, dragonflies, ladybugs, ants all pollinate, either by accident or not. But bees are the real workers. People plant gardens to attract and feed them. Like hummingbird and butterfly gardens.

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So I was surprised in a good way to hear them this morning. I hope they liked it enough to stay.

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skipping seasons

Well it’s happened again. Winter ends abruptly in summer. We never really had a winter here, this year. Four, maybe five days with early morning frost. No ice or snow when generally we see a couple of flurries. But what happened to spring?

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A couple of mornings started out with a chill only to melt it off in a few short hours. The petunias I planted were perky with bright, full blooms. By afternoon the heat wilt had melted them into a vegetative heap. The cultivated spring flowers have burst through the soil and daffodils (they are first) stand cheerfully announcing tulip’s arrival. Before they are gone the azaleas bloom. Tree leaves are just now budding, the mighty oak leaves are tender, tiny and baby soft and seem so vulnerable for such a formidable tree.

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I think I enjoy the wildflowers most. This comes up each year at a nearby park and it colonizes. This plant was on its own but next year will likely be a family. I have collected a seed pod or two but it does not grow for me.

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There is another park where pathways are well-defined in winter months, and rescue dogs Lily and Lulu love pioneering through the trails. In summer the undergrowth and smaller trees make the paths undefinable so we stick to the paved walkway. Also we miss out on surprising an occasional snake which works for me.

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Yesterday we sat on the riverbank before the day was too hot and were treated to this sailboat venturing out to sea. I often wonder where people go.

So we still enjoy watching trees wake up and giving cool shade. Anoles are thawing and can move faster than Lily and Lulu already. The carpenter bees (bumble bees when I was little) are busy in what flowers we have and finding some wood to lay their eggs. I have seen butterflies emerge from cocoons, even baby earthworms warming up, but I never saw a carpenter bee hatch.

5EE0C213-CBBC-4888-B9DE-53B8EED77293Robert Louis Stevenson, “XXIV Happy Thoughts” from A Child’s Garden of Verses

 

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We get little hints of cooler weather, then heat, as though the tease did not exist at all. There is a strange phenomenon I have heard of but had not seen called seafog. At least not until moving so close to the ocean. This strange and thick mist appears for apparently no reason. It happens on the shoreline as well as inland.

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You can see it at a distance, walk into it, then right out of it as if it wasn’t even there. Like a ghost. Ghost fog.

I am glad now there are more cooler days than warm. Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu are happier, I sleep better, walkies are more interesting rather than an endurance challenge.

Yet fall still has its little surprises of flowers, not just the beautiful changing leaves.

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Most of these I don’t even know what they are. This looks like a single-headed messier version of ageratum (old man’s beard), same basic color but untrimmed.

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This looks like a bloodroot but it has needle-like leaves, not broad leaves, so I don’t know what this one is, either.

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Ibis are silly birds to me. But they eat all sorts of grubs and bugs we don’t much want in our lawns, so they can look as funny as they want. I am glad for them.

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calm

There seems to be an increase in doomsday predictions. Naysayers. This is terrible! Focusing on something no one knows anything about except that it will happen loses sight of what’s important.

The here and now.

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No one knows the future. When people get all in a twist about something nobody knows will happen they make chaos.

Stop it.

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Being grounded takes a lot of effort for me. I am easily distracted. But doomsday people have never held any interest for me. Staying focused on what’s important matters. But the end of the world? Why stir everybody up over something no one knows?

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Maybe this is why I love flowers so much. And trees. They just are. Day after day, season after season, year after year. They are what they were created to be. Some become diseased and die. So do we. Some grow old. Very, very old. So do we. We have seasons. We change. But nature doesn’t freak out over an ice storm. It endures it. Or a hurricane. Their leaves are blown off, they may get drowned but if they live they put out more leaves.

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We replace siding, or shingles, or whole roofs, or whole houses. But mostly we face whatever disaster or trouble we get. We have to. Jumping the gun, skipping to the end when the end isn’t here yet, when we don’t even know when the end is, doesn’t make any sense.

IMG_1066.JPGLily staying safe under a bench

So I have to take the end is near people lightly. The end I don’t take lightly, but I have no idea when that will happen. So I need to keep on keeping on and trust God. He knows.

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That is all that matters. It’s His business, mine is to trust Him.

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spring fervor

Normally it’s fever. This year somehow the garden centers suddenly have exploded with all manner of shrubs, trees, bedding plants, vines and border plants. The stars (perennials and annuals) have not made their appearance yet, maybe not until May. But the colors! Bright reds and magenta, pinks, blue, lavender and vibrant green in every shade imaginable.

And the pollens!

Everything is coated in a dusty yellow pine pollen film. We had a good, hard soaking rain a few nights ago and most of the pollen dust washed away but it’s never ending until after April. Sneezes going off everywhere. Anonymous “Bless you”s quickly follow.

This morning on our walk Lily, Lulu and I went rogue off our neighborhood property onto the adjacent electric company’s property. We followed the rutted road as it curved around a retention pond, and amongst the bramble and blackberry tangle found an unkempt wild wisteria vine

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I brought a cutting home to see whether it would root. This is a maniac of a vine and will easily take over an arbor in a summer or two in this climate but if tended properly is very pretty with pendulous, grape-like, heavily scented flower clusters.

I was given some pittosporum seeds a year ago which I started in small pots. It’s a pretty shrub with a lovely creamy white flower that has a light fragrance. So far I have a few that have rooted but are not yet ready for the unpredictability of the outdoors

IMG_0901.JPGMaybe next year, if I can keep them alive through another winter inside they can be planted.

I have scattered more wildflower seed since nothing came up last year, I have tomatoes, some herbs, coleus and other plants for flower pots. But we are warned of yet a few more nights of maybe frost or close enough, so I’ll wait another week or so.

Meanwhile, Lily has let me know it is time for walkies.

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So planning and plotting where I will plant things, place flower pots and trellis tomatoes will have to wait.

For now.

 

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blossom

When I was married and my (now ex) husband got a job in Tennessee I was, for the first time, at sea. Fortunately I did not know this. My method then IMG_0109.JPGof adaptation was to flounder comically until I found footing. Others were distracted because I was good at making people laugh by laughing at myself.

One kind person did take me under her wing (briefly) to help with altar guild at the church we attended (briefly). Before she finally gave up realizing I was not detail oriented she told me to “bloom where I was planted.” This was wisdom I’d never before heard because I’d bloomed well wherever I’d been, just not there. And I have not forgotten what she said and it has been helpful at times over the now very many years.

No matter where I have alit in life I have made a friend or two and gratefully we have kept in touch. I learned that people are basically the same –good– wherever I am, no matter their manner or customs.

After rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I have taken our pre-dawn morning walk I set out to take a longer walk, more for exercise than sniff for messages. One recent morning I came upon a plant that somehow I’d not seen before. This thing is called a blue agave or century plant since it blooms once every hundred years. And here this thing had sent up its inflourescence (flower). I thought it was a yucca but their flowers are very difIMG_0104.JPGferent and nowhere near as tall as that. The blooms are ivory-colored and branch singly off the flower stalk. They do not appear to have branches like a small tree.

I marveled at this plant! Here is something on the outer back corner of a drug store that looks like it was planted as more of an afterthought. It has grown here happily in nutrient-poor sandy soil and bright, full scorching sun since and now shows itself in all its glory. I wondered if anyone else saw the flower. It’s really important because, after this plant flowers it dies! It sends out what are called pups or little plantlets, offshoots, but the original one’s life is over. I don’t think this plant has been here for 100 years. I suppose it’s possible but the subdividing and development that is going on in this town lends itself more to plants being put in the landscape when buildings are built. I somehow doubt construction would have protected this single plant when the store was being built.

I could be wrong.

IMG_0124.JPGThis is another one in the landscape of a subdivision near the one that is blooming

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This is a baby one I have. They grow very slowly. And though they are the plant from which culinary agave nectar or tequila are made I do not know how to do this and I bought this plant more for decorative landscape purposes than imbibing. If what I learned about it is true I likely will not live long enough to see it bloom. Though I have seen an aloe bloom, in Florida. It has a tall stalk with pretty orange and yellow flowers.

So while Lily and Lulu have no problem making themselves right at home, wherever they find themselves

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it may take some of us longer to bloom.

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”    2 Peter 3:8

 

 

 

endings, beginnings

Today is the last day of June. Which brings the first of July. Each day ends and a new one begins following the night that divides them.

A butterfly lays its eggs on a host plant which, when the larva emerges, will feed it until it is ready to create its cocoon where it will magically end that life and transform into a butterfly, and begin again

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A plant wakes from winter sleep and emerges in spring and buds grow, bursting open with the sun’s warmth and spring rains

IMG_0067.JPG                                                         Hibiscus “Pinot noir”

IMG_0070.JPG                                                        macrophylla Hydrangea

IMG_0069.JPG                                                                  star gazer Lily

IMG_0073.JPG                                                                         Calla lily

IMG_0072.JPG                                                  Echinacea, shasta daisies

The joy of the wonders of nature overwhelms me. The colors, fragrances, designs, all grace this planet each spring. Fall comes and they fade, preparing for sleep, having offered their very best to us for a season.

They sleep, and then they begin it all again.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans.”                   Proverbs 16:3

 

 

weeds

So the past couple of weeks I have been happily tearing out shrubs and nondescript bushes around my house and replacing them with plants that I feel have real character… native plants. Plants that will do well here once established because, well because they grow here.

I do not understand why nurseries and big-box garden centers persist in stocking (and selling) flowers and plants that grow well in zones where there is no humidity (that’s not here), or the night temperatures never exceed 60* (not here, either). I fell for that. I’d see an exotic or beautiful plant and snatch it up, carefully reading its little happiness parameters– whether it liked sun or shade, dry or damp soil, but completely ignored that it could not survive in sandy soil (definitely here). I would be deeply saddened as I watched this lovely flower slowly succumb to its inevitable demise.

So I planted many things, tiny presently but which will, in only a few years, I hope grow into their natural mature states. Carolina allspice (sweetshrub), clethra (I cannot find a common name for this fragrant little shrub). Elderberry, sweet bay and red buckeye which are all understory trees, or trees that do not grow much more than 10 feet or so.

Then I planted native flowers– echinacea, blackeyed susan, butterfly weed (aesclepias), fennel which swallowtail butterflies lovcaterpillar-562104_640.jpge. That’s the wonderful thing about native plants. There are often insects or caterpillars that have a symbiotic relationship with them. A milkweed (aesclepias) plant can be completely denuded of leaves and blooms by a monarch caterpillar.

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After it has eaten its fill it happily goes away to make its cocoon and become its beautiful butterfly self gran-canaria-171555_640.jpg (also not my picture) while the host plant grows back.

I planted gaillardia (blanketflower) because I love its warm orange and yellow and red colors and because it is probably the most native of all coastal flowers here. And it spreads (hence its name)  images.duckduckgo.jpg(public domain image)

I also planted some hibiscus which you never know what color their flowers are until they actually bloom for the first time. Anything from pink to red to white, purple or blue. And oxeye daisies. I recently learned these are considered weeds. How anyone could call a daisy a weed I’ll never know. But there they are, nestled among the hydrangea and wildflower seeds I scattered- zinnias, among other annuals.

So we’ll see. I live in a neighborhood that prides itself on its homeowner’s association’s perfection. Well, they can have their perfection in my front yard. But the backyard is mine.

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Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”   –Matthew 6:28

an early spring

So last week temperatures hit record-breaking levels here. People are actually playing in the ocean even though the water is much colder than the air, and the gulf stream has not returned to the coastline yet. Trees have bloomed, some even sprouting early leaves. Pine pollen is coating everything with a filmy yellow-green. The daffodils are in full splendor and tulips are right behind them. Even a few azaleas are starting to open buds.

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The Azalea Festival is a big deal here. It’s kind of an arts festival but there is a queen of the festival and she has a court. They look like antebellum debutantes! Yes, hoop skirts, parasols, and escort cadets from The Citadel in Charleston. Apparently the original mission of this Gala began with the restoration of an unattractive marshy area and it became so beautiful the city decided to celebrate it. Thus began the festival in 1948.

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I have never been.

The azaleas, camellias and bulbs all bloomed last year long before the festival, and it looks as if this might happen again this year. There’s a garden tour which makes for a difficult time if you have no flowers to show in the garden. But each year they persist by holding the festival in April.

At that point tourists have begun returning for the summer, dogs are not allowed on beaches, parking meters have been reinstalled for the busy season, storefronts have been restored and repainted, streets resurfaced, everything has a polish and hums with anticipation of a successful summer.

But I digress.

It’s still February.

Normal spring doesn’t usually start here for at least 2 or 3 more weeks.  And even then it’s been known to snow after the dogwoods have bloomed. So here we are looking at burgeoning life and the skimmers and terns aren’t even back yet to their favorite nesting areas.

I can’t get caught up in all of this. I have to keep my brain focused on the day, not what it feels like.

When does Daylight Savings Time start?

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“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” –1 Corinthians 1:27