Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Afterglow

Recently I wrote using the metaphor of estrus for the world of springtime flora here in the Ozark hills. (OK, estrus is commonly referred to as "heat" in animals, as in "my dog is in heat.") I thought the metaphor was apt, so I will continue it. Children cover your ears.

The stage we are now in I could describe as post-coital. Pollen has covered roofs, cars, decks and the interior of lungs for a couple of weeks now. The oak trees are spent. Catkins (see photo) litter the ground and clog gutters. They are everywhere, but then we are in the woods and have been surrounded by this sexual frenzy.

For the oak trees - the most dominant species here - I suspect the fun is complete and they are now to get down to the business of growing and photosynthesis. Perhaps it is the afterglow and time for a cigarette.

The transformation of the hills is nearly complete. Dull brown is changed to a brilliant green. This never fails to impresses me. Each year the surroundings here overlooking the valley and the hills are altered so dramatically. Our world is new.

An in hills turkey gobblers are strutting for the hens. Birds are nesting. Turtles are on the move. Maybe the fish are biting. It is a regular circus. Come see it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring souvenirs

Back home in Missouri now, I was inspired this morning to photograph a few of the flowering trees and plants surrounding our home. And, as I was doing this, two thoughts occurred to me.

First, it occurs to me that many of these plants are souvenirs, reminders of pleasant places we have visited, or pieces of flora taken from treasured local spots that seem to inspire us each time we visit.

For example: the golden daffodils are certain to have come from one of two abandoned farms we have visited each spring for years. It may have been the old "Doyel Place" that sits high on a timbered hill overlooking a cedar-strewn creek bottom. Or, those particular flowers could have been removed from clumps growing at the old "Algerine Place" that sits behind the decaying school house up on what was known as "Clifty Dale Road."

The Japanese Quince almost certainly came from a broad thicket of it on the hill where is has become nearly out of control since folks last lived in the cabin, now a pile of rubble. And most assuredly, those folks got their start of that plant from another site, perhaps a neighbor's garden. No one paid money to Walmart or Lowes for those daffodil bulbs that now stream in clumps down the hill and into the timber. Dug-up starts of quince were once carried in pails to a new home site where they now flourish, abandoned.

And the tulips that are just too red - they are remnants of a wonderful European trip years ago. These are products of Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands. Our visit to the gardens was wonderful, but the sight of these tulips brings memories of the complete trip - Amsterdam, Edam, the North Sea, and England, Scotland, and Wales. I guess that is what souvenirs should do, bring back vivid memories of travel.

My second thought this morning is sexual, I'm afraid (well sorta). Notice the red bud and service berry blooms above. Spring is much like estrus in the world of flora. The world is flowering, open, receptive, primal. In the world of animals, especially domestic animals, estrus occurs many times in a year. In the world of plants, it happens generally only once per year, spring. At any rate, perhaps while in the outdoors in spring, aside from the feeling of newness and awe, we should perhaps also turn our heads and blush.