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Lab Girl

“People don’t know how to make a leaf, but they know how to destroy one.”

–Hope Jahren

Have you ever wondered what secrets the trees are telling each other deep beneath the ground with their intertwined roots? If not, please read this book and enlarge your perspective.  Hope Jahren is a scientist who has made a respectable career out of playing in the dirt. She’s my hero for that. Her memoir, Lab Girl, is infused with her love of science, sunshine, soil and seeds. It features funny and highly entertaining tales of her travels and misadventures in academia and the band of misfits she loves along the way.

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Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

—Herman Hess

Backyard tree sprite

Well hello there Mr. Tree. 

Was I looking at you,

or were you looking at me?

–Lunar Euphoria

may 27 2013 012

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.

— John Muir

in bloom

I started a garden journal this week to help me learn the names of everything blooming in the yard so I can get a sense of when, where, and what action is happening.

tulip, daffodils, & weeping forsythia

tulip, daffodils, & weeping forsythia

April I 2013 025I don’t know what the thing with the pink blooms is yet. Help please?

April 2013 035

violets

April 2013 032

crab apple blossoms

I had no idea the crab apple trees offered a double feature — white flowers in April, little red apples in August.

Wild Life

I have finally managed to capture photo evidence of my “pterodactyl.”  Granted, the heron is not particularly lizard-like, but he’s huge and prehistoric-looking, which has earned him the name “Pterry.” Pterry often visits the yard outside my office window in the morning. The feathered fiend tends to emerge in slow motion into my peripheral vision while I am busily typing at something.  As soon as I make a move for the camera he stretches his gigantic wings and flaps about 10 times before managing to lift his forever long legs off the ground.  The sight is so mesmerizing I usually forget I’m holding a camera as I watch him.  When I finally remember to snap pictures, they turn out about as fuzzy as a dream in fading memory.

The other day I spotted Pterry wandering near the koi pond.  Nickel and I both went stalking after him. I’m not sure what Nickel was thinking – the bird is nearly as tall as I am. So far this is the best picture I’ve snapped of Pterry.  I am hoping he stays away from the koi.

Pterry the Pterodactyl

Pterry the Pterodactyl

A couple days ago I also captured a picture of my first noncaptive raccoon. He was wandering around the neighbor’s front yard. In this picture he was looking for the source of the all the kissing and whistling sounds.

April I 2013 005

Projects

We have a new fence! The Angry Russian made it curvy and El-D hand-cut every one of the 134 pickets.

April 2013 041

To celebrate its completion, Lady Bug (Nilla Bean’s sister) came over last week for a play date with Moon Pie. They romped around all day and wore each other out.

April 2013 023

Lady Bug and Moon Pie

Last weekend we planted wave one of the seedlings – his and hers:

His Method: Dixie Cups on a Teacart

His Method: Dixie Cups on a Teacart

Why his and hers?

Because things must be done a certain way.

He prefers little cups he can write on with a sharpie.

She wanted to reuse the 2-liter bottles before sending them to be recycled.

He requires an intricate mix of dirt samples taken from various points in the yard.

She’s good with store bought potting soil mixed with a bit of compost.

He wanted squash, okra, and tomatos.

She is more interested in growing radishes, herbs, and flowers.

He likes to plant any old seed packet from years gone by.

She likes heirlooms and fancy things.

Only one week later, things are already sprouting: squash, marigolds, petunias, radishes, and beans.

Her Method: Cut 2-liter bottles with printed labels

Her Method: Cut 2-liter bottles with printed labels

xx

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