Friday, May 12, 2006
Loude sing cuckoo
(Yes, I know the title is about summer. But go with me here.) Spring is a frustrating season for growers here at the Omega household. We have bulbs--tulips, snowdrops, grape hyacinths, crocuses (croci?). Those work nicely. Every year, reliable as clockwork, up spring our bulbs, and we have a semi-show that lets us realize that, indeed, the Frost Giants are retreating. We have various flowering trees, bushes, and shrubs--crabapples, lilacs, pekin cherries, gooseberries, elderberries. They, alas, don't work so nicely. Each year, reliable as clockwork, they pop out with buds like crazy, and then...then the Frost Giants come tromping through our garden, and we are left with shriveled, blackened, frost-nipped buds aplenty, and few to no flowers. Definitely no fruits. Fruits? Hah! The Omega household scoffs at the concept. Now, down the hill, just a mile away, there are people who regularly get flowers and fruits. The Frost Giant steps from little mesa to little mesa, right over the folks "at the bottom". Am I envious? Noooooo. Each year, OmegaDad goes on a frenzied hunt at the local nurseries, purchasing baby tomato plants, baby oregano, baby broccolis and brussels sprouts. Then he plants them. He does this before June 1. He should learn. Because all those baby plants become slaughterhouses, charnel gardens, black, limp leaves drooping in the gleam of a hard frost within a week or two of planting, and OmegaDad finds himself back at the nursery, buying yet more plants. Every year. Like clockwork. This year... Well, we didn't get lilacs. Sigh. I miss lilacs so much; it was so wonderful to walk down the streets of Rogers Park and Lincoln Park in Chicago in the springtime; the decades-old lilac bushes in front of neighborhood bungalows would tower over the sidewalk filled with fragrant blossoms. At times, on spectacularly crystal-clear and balmy spring days, I would be overcome, and stop on my neighborhood walks to just push my face into a lilac bush and breathe until I was giddy with lilac scent and mesmerized by the humming of the bees, drunk with springtime. But. This year our crabapples have escaped the wrath of the Frost Giants. This year, our white crabapple is in full bloom, and our red crabapple seems soon to follow suit. We probably still won't get fruit--I am far too cynical and accustomed to dashed hopes to even let that faint wistfulness grow any further. Oh, it is so lovely. I can see it from the kitchen window, in full riotous bloom, white and pink and dainty. When I go out in the side yard, the air around the crabapples resonates with the bees humming. The fragrance washes over me. The hummingbirds are back, too, and the open windows allow me to hear the trills of their wings as they dive and dart around. Hummingbirds, while they are adorable and beautiful and a harbinger of spring, are unfortunately vicious little buggers who are extremely territorial. So we get lots of that diving and darting around as they fight with each other over who gets which yummy source of nectar. The skunks have also arrived, but the less said about them the better. I'm just happy that Dawg learned his lesson the one time, and has never again attacked a skunk full-on, but contents himself with hysterical barking anytime one gets too near the house. The ones who nest under the front porch are given passes--they're known enemies, and so long as they don't get up on the porch, Dawg ignores their existance. We leave them alone, they leave us alone, Dawg leaves them alone--and they don't spray. It's the "strays" who venture into the yard who leave us calling cards of--oog!--skunk aroma wafting in the windows at night. Later in the year, we'll have a different brand of hummingbird, beautiful bronze bombers who glow like polished copper kettles in the sun. They don't have the distinctive trill of the springtime hummers, though; they must be content with their beauty instead. And orioles...and mountain bluebirds... Ahhh. Spring is sprung.