Friday, March 30, 2012

These Beauties of Spring

 I'm rewarded for my troubles, not with morels, which were the reason for my spending time in the woods, but with the blanket of spring beauties (Claytonia viginica) that hug the soil. They're tiny flowers - no more than half an inch across - and they come in a variety of whites and pinks. A few have veins of deep pink, almost the color of creme soda.

 I think of these minuscule plants, grown from tubers buried just beneath the soil, buried all summer in weeds, often deep under winter snows, and yet each spring they reach for the sky again, as muted as the light is through the burgeoning trees. And yet they never give up trying.

A member of the Purslane family, these are as delicate a flower as I think possible. They can barely be touched without damage. And so I don't, except with a camera, year after year.

 I understand they are edible but who would trouble themselves with something so tiny? A single tuber might have the volume of a sunflower kernel. Surely if the Indians ate these, it was an act of desperation?

 Conditions seem ripe for mushrooms. The ground is wet after the night's rain and the temperature is already a balmy 64°. What are the morels waiting for? I understand they're being found in Michigan, weeks ahead of schedule. I have not had a chance to look before today but I spent some good time amid the chirping birds and the majesty of these tiny flowers. But that is all I came home with.

 I'll wait a week or so. Surely the morels will be early this year. Or will they be not at all?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stormy Day

 It's just mid-March but you'd think we were already in June. Our high yesterday was 76° and the day's average temperature (66°) was 28° above normal. It looks like the week ahead will be warmer.

 What's to be expected but storms? Surely we are already in tornado season. Yesterday a Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued to run until 10 pm but it was cancelled early. At 7:15 pm, it looked as though we were going to get pounded.

 I walked to the back of our property to observe the sky. Tornadoes certainly weren't out of the question. Heavy, ponderous thunder boomed to the southwest and to the north. Brilliant lightning pierced the western sky. This bank of clouds, due west, was actually moving slightly north of east and would skirt by me along US 35 in New Lebanon.

 I noticed as I took these shots that the afterglow of sunset was still visible to the camera. I could not see it - or maybe just not so well - with my naked eye. I suppose the camera is better suited to low light, else the sunset has some infra-red in it which the camera does not fail to record.

 About the time I took this shot, rain began pattering the bare field. They were isolated drops and not enough to get me wet. I was standing there in PJ's and a robe so I decided to head back for the house anyway.

 I took this final shot to the northwest because that's where the most severe part of the storm was heading. The clouds were literally torn apart by high winds but down on the ground, things were calm and warm.

 We got no more than a trace a rain. Other areas received upwards of 3", I've heard. I'd have liked to have my new onion sets and radish seeds watered but I suppose the rain was too light for either to even notice. After this line blew east, the Severe Thunderstorm Watch was cancelled. I was in bed by 9:45 pm and asleep a few minutes later.

 An exciting - and then quiet - end to the day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Daffodils in Bloom

 Here we are, mid-March, and the daffodils in the meadow are in full bloom. I love the clumps of lemon yellow buried among last season's dry weeds. How the squirrels have failed to find these bulbs, I don't know. Maybe daffodils are not one of the spring bulbs they eat?

 Here, then, is the progression of the blooms - backwards in time. They popped above the soil very early this year but they apparently were aware of their mistake and kept themselves closed until almost the normal date. Nature is pretty smart!


 Here the daffodils are in full bloom on Sunday. I have five clumps of these bulbs, planted there many years ago and expanding with each passing season.


 Going back just three days, shows the buds just about to open. Cold nights have retarded their growth for more than a month.


 Back in mid-February, the clumps already had buds. But the plants apparently do a good job of testing the weather and decided it wasn't time to push them open ... not just yet.


 I first saw the daffodils push through the soil in the first few days of February. Already the buds are visible but they'll wait another five weeks before opening. Considering their height here is already several inches, I'd say they were really above ground in the final days of January.
 To say the least, it's a remarkably warm winter and the plants are good evidence of it.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


 It was a day of wild weather. Tornadoes and deaths to our west. Thunderstorms crept to our very doorstep but then hightailed it east with only a light shower. I, in fact, never heard thunder. And for so stormy a day to the west, we were spared.

 I drove through Miamisburg early in the morning, heading to Bob Evans to meet two relatives for breakfast with Mom. At about 8:30 am, near the intersection of Central Avenue and 4th Street, this is how the sky looked to the northeast.

 The clouds had angry swirls and striations and seemed to almost touch the ground in the distance. But an hour later, the clouds had mellowed, had settled down to a uniform gray. But by late afternoon new storms were just west of us, promising serious destruction. Yet as quickly as they marched towards us, the threat began to dissolve. Just before 6:30 pm, I was outside watching a final renegade storm just to our south approach, coincident with sunset.

 Directly west, the sky was becoming calm and the clouds were breaking. To the southwest, the lone storm approached quietly.

 At times like these, the sky takes on a special majesty while the ground sinks to insignificance. It is the sky that commands our life, the sky alone.

 As the sun sinks, the final remaining storm glows apricot. Lower clouds darken in the shadows of night.There is an eerie windless calm.

 The storm stays silent and drops no rain on us. It seems to break, else slide quietly east, staying to our south. By evening a cold front skids across us, ripping my outdoor thermometer clear free of the kitchen window in a 43 mph blast. The temperature meanwhile plummets, the house rocks, the trees sway.

 We are safe. Less than 1/5 inch of rain has fallen and no tornadoes have dropped from the sky near us. It is as though a line were placed upon the Ohio/Indiana border that said, "Here. Stop. No more."