Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spring Flowers Hold Seeds of Winter

IN BIRDLAND, SPRING IS FLOWING FASTER AND FASTER INTO SUMMER. It’s suddenly hot and all the rain gives us the emerald green wild growth and the humidity that fills the house. Flowers are busting out everywhere. The lilacs have already come and gone, releasing their musky scent. The memory lingers with the now brown, papery blossoms that still fill the bush. The lavender color is echoed in the Ground Ivey, Sweet Rocket, and Iris. The shape of the Sweet Rocket florets is echoed in the blooming Horseradish. Both are members of the Brassicaceae—the Mustard family—and have the same Cruciferous flowers, but the Horseradish is white. I pick them both for the table, just as I picked both purple and white Lilacs a week ago.

Just now I got up to check the lilac bushes (was my description of the dead flowers accurate?) and was caught by a sudden flutter of blue in the bush—an Indigo Bunting. I stepped forward to get a closer look and my window framed a Cardinal in the grass a few feet away. Such a generosity of color in my window pane. But back to the flowers.

The Cardinal is the same scarlet color as the lone poppy in a bed that widens every year. Just now the bed is filled with green, whiskery buds, each hanging like the head of a long-necked, prehistoric bird. Tomorrow, or maybe by this afternoon, more poppies will pop until the whole area is filled, briefly with red. (And now that I look again, and remember the Cardinal, I see that my Poppy is a little more orange, but only a little. Just a slight yellow highlight that shimmers in the sun.) But the flowers are delicate, shattering easily, the crepe paper petals bruise a pale pink and drop to the ground, leaving the complicated seed cases, like miniature pepper shakers ready to shake seeds over my bagel or into the yard, widening next summer’s circle.

The yard is also filled with work to do. Didn’t I just mow two sections of the lawn? And those are ready to mow again, but the South side of the house is knee-high, grasses going to seed.
Work to do.
Next to the driveway sits a pile of  perennials to be planted. Last week I managed to put in a row of Iris curving around the Hostas I planted last year to define my little picnic table area. I dug and dug, but have plenty more to divide. I envision a growing circle of color, rippling toward the cornfield like rings on a pond where a pebble has dropped.

Since I stopped using the riding mower, the lawn takes longer to mow and the grass grows taller between mowings. But I get the exercise of the walk, and the push mower gives me more maneuverability. Sometimes from up on the seat of the riding mower, I would see a renegade Milkweed or Thistle I wanted to preserve for the butterflies, but couldn’t always change course in time, and often as not, I would mow it over. Walking behind the push mower I can easily circle a volunteer Black-Eyed-Susan, or even a tuft of tall grass that I want to accent the lawn. When the grass is cut short it’s easy to think that my lawn is a monoculture, but letting the grasses go to seed reminds me of the diversity there: Timothy, Fescue, Turkey Foot, Foxtail all lend their different tones and blades and flowerheads to my back yard.

Bright Constellations of Dandelions
Ready to Fly Away on a Wish
I like too, to see the bright yellow constellations of the Dandelions scattered around, both the random yellow dots scattered around the yard when I look from the attic window, and the smaller constellations of flowers in one plant. We’re just entering into Summer, but the quick cycles of various flowers remind me that the seeds of Winter are always with us. The Dandelions have both the sunny flowers and the ghostly seed heads make me think of diagrams of an atom, with a nucleus of dark seeds ready to fly away on a wish. The maples are dropping seeds of their own, brown papery wings like the discarded wings of cardboard dragonflies. These are scattered on my path, a gentle reminder of the autumn and winter ahead.
Fly in Beauty; Flow in Peace; Blessed Be.


  1. Mary! Please! Let's not think about autumn and winter again just yet! Love your image of the pre-historic birdhead poppies. And I've always thought dandelion seed heads look like atoms, too. Lovely column. Blessings to you.

  2. Aww, Susan. Those seeds are there whether we think about them or not. But remember that the Winter holds seeds of Spring, too. Blessings and Dandelion wishes on you, too! :)