My wife and I and another couple toured a greenhouse in the Shenandoah Valley for their Christmas Open House. I was expecting Christmas wreaths and lots of poinsettias. They had those, but these festive calla lilies dressed in their many holiday colors really caught my eye.
My wife is quite the gardner. This spring bouquet in her main flower garden at our former Ohio home was proof of that.
Colorful peonies, irises, lilies, and daisies were only some of the flowers that comprised this large flower garden. It took a lot of work. But clearly, all of her efforts paid off. In fact, we often received compliments from passersby on our busy county highway. They appreciated Neva’s beautiful floral display. I hope you do as well.
For whatever reason, the forsythia bushes in the Shenandoah Valley this spring are brilliant. Their blossoms are plump and full. With the early evening sun shining on these bushes, the yellows and golds just popped.
When I asked my wife to identify the flower the butterfly was enjoying, her reaction surprised and inspired me. “Wow,” she said, “seasons of Gaillardia!” Then I saw it. As the growing season winds down, this meadow of wildflowers held the blanket flower nearly in every stage of growth. The Variegated Fritillary butterfly, which just happened to be in the shadow of a taller flower, fed on one of the remaining Gaillardia heads still in full bloom.
Being surprised is just one of the benefits of photography. While on a field trip to photograph young barn owls, I spotted these beauties in one of the flowerbeds of the Amish farm where the owls were. The afternoon sun bathed these lupines, enriching an already colorful floral rainbow.
The first flowers of the year bloomed in our yard on April 1. No fooling.
My wife found them while picking up sticks after several additional days of steady, biting winds that brought down more tree debris. I had done the same chore a week previous.
Golds, lavenders and purples of spring, assisted by the blossoms’ compatriot green leafy shafts, poked through the tree trash. That’s the one nice thing about crocuses. They replenish themselves without any effort on our part, as long as furry varmints don’t devour them.
The royal purple, lovely lavender, and buttery yellow crocuses were welcomed splashes of joyous color amid the decaying aftermath of winter’s harshness. Even the honeybees thought so.
Dead limbs and burnished leaves littered the yard thanks to continuous cold winds. It was mostly the shingle oaks and red oaks that finally released last year’s growth.
It could be easy to be remorseful given the depth of winter’s persistent, piercing punches. To be blunt, the last two winters in Ohio have been brutal. The current condition of any highway, rural, suburban, urban or interstate, is proof enough of that.
The fact is that when you live in northern Ohio, awaiting spring requires patience. We shouldn’t allow either the sullenness of winter’s negative effect nor the cloudy, cool spring days to dull our senses to the numerous subtle changes that are occurring beyond the short-lived flowerings.
Those hints are our daily hope. We only need to watch and listen to realize spring’s emergence.
Here’s what I’ve witnessed so far. The glint of another promising sunrise flashed off the harness hardware of the draft horses pulling one bottom plows turning topsoil. Chilly mid-morning April showers sent them all to the barn.
A Chipping Sparrow trilled its repetitious song from the safety of the blue spruce at the corner of our home. It was nice to hear its monotonous melody again.
A Red-winged Blackbird sang its luxurious chorus from the top of the tallest pine on our property. It had been doing so for a month already. When our son was a youngster, he always noted when this common bird with its flashy red wing patches first sang its welcoming song atop that tree.
Cardinals and American Robins joined in the musical mayhem, staking out their territories, and trying to attract a mate. The robins regularly asserted themselves, especially against their diminutive but beautiful cousins, the Eastern Bluebirds.
Molting American Goldfinches squabbled at the bird feeder by the kitchen window as if their changing colors irritated their familial demeanor. An Eastern Phoebe popped onto the same limb it claimed last year and naturally bobbed its lobed tail.
An awakened fox squirrel was a sight to see as well. Pelting rains had disheveled its scrubby fur as it munched and munched on sunflower seeds.
Buds on trees like the flowering dogwood and shrubs like the lilac swell slowly, stealthily. Eventually, they will burst into full blossom, spreading both their beauty and fragrances for all to enjoy.
Long, hard winters followed by chilly, wet starts to spring can get us behaving badly if we’re not careful. We get antsy for the weather we so desire. Tending to both flower and vegetable gardens beats shoveling snow any day.
With the recent rains and warmer temperatures, it looks as though our steadfast but frayed patience has finally paid off. Let’s hope both fairer weather and pleasant attitudes prevail right on into summer.
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