Yard Work

May 16, 2019

Everything is finally in spring mode. Green is breaking out all over. Almost twenty years ago, I planted a snowball bush. I desperately wanted one to grow, thrive and bloom here in the Pines. I’ve moved it three times and finally it is happy.  This season I anticipate a great bunch of snowball sized blooms. In this contest of wills, I won.

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

I rarely win. Flowering shrubs of the tame variety do not do particularly well in the woods. Our apple trees are not prolific, although the white flowering crabs will produce more ornamental apples than the birds will eat. Rabbits have dined on the spirea and forsythia refuses to bloom.

Nearly twenty years ago the late George Laughlin and his daughter Carol Niver brought me a plant pot with what looked like a stick in it. It was a young mountain ash. Being late in the season, I planted it in a friendly and protected spot and hoped for the best.

This year the now fifteen foot tall clump of mountain ash is poised to give us a bountiful bloom. We have high hopes of seeing the orange berries this year. The birds around here like them green.   

I’ve spent the past few days looking under and turning over stones and rocks and bigger rocks. Ok, a lot of rocks. I’m not looking for anything, although I have found a few things, mostly more rocks and critters. I’ve seen a huge stag horn beetle, several wood grubs, June bugs and literally thousands and thousands of small ants. There have been no skinks or snakes or other things that slither or scurry, and for that I am thankful.

Part of my rock turning activity involves moving a lot of them to another place, which will complete a long time project and make the Gardener tremendously happy. And nothing makes him happier than a clear, 42” swipe and turning room everywhere he mows.

The battle between my rocks and his mower is not a new one. There have been rocks and gardening folk here long before there was the Gardener, however none better. My mother was quite a lover of rocks, particularly those from Isabella County where she was born and raised, and those from the Superior shores. Mom had rocks everywhere and seemingly around every tree. And I, being a life long rock hound have added more. We rock lovers, my daughter included, have dragged in enough rocks in the 60 years of Peaceful Pines, to build a small pyramid. Futuristic archeologists who may happen to look here will wonder why all of these rocks are in the middle of all of this sand.

Right on time, our clump of trillium is in bloom. Can the lilacs be far behind?

I marvel as I pick up the rocks along a couple of walkway’s at how the earth has been busy reclaiming the rocks. They all have been disappearing into the ground, slowly, steadily. It’s gravity at work in slow motion, aided by weather and nature and a lot of fallen leaves.

Much to my dismay, the rocks we lugged home because of their beauty have all become dark in time, some even sporting a green lichen crust. It further astonishes me that when I flip them over, I find their beauty and colors still there, facing the ground. This makes us wonder if our meager rock piles in the pines are facing the same forces as the great ‘rock piles’ of the world. Such ancient wonders as the Great Pyramids, Coliseum and the Parthenon are hurt by acid rain and air pollution. In a far lesser, but no less serious scale, it appears to happen here too. We are all on this big rock together.

When future diggers unearth our plot in the pines, they will think it the camp remains of an ancient people. They will find the low rock-wall and fire pit and the ruins of the castle of our little kingdom. Nothing left but stone and block. Just like the wearing effects of nature and time upon the rocks, it will happen here too.

 In the mean time, I’m looking at my rock project as good exercise. It certainly is a weight lifting kind of thing. There are rocks of every size, from cobblestones to groaners, and I’m sure I will before it’s all done.

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