Sunday, May 11, 2008

May Flowers

At 5PM, we’re in between a line of thunderstorms, and I wonder if that is why my computer connection seems to be so slow. The Weather Channel website radar map shows another strong line of storms followed by a lot of rain. After last year’s drought conditions, I am grateful for any and all rain any time.

Thunderstorms in the mountains are different from those on flatland. I remember one summer when I was a lifeguard in Virginia Beach, still in college. It seemed like it stormed every afternoon around three o’clock. There would be these huge thunderheads growing over the coast all afternoon and lightning would look thick as rope dropping down around us. After an hour or so it would be over and we’d open the pool back up. Steam would be coming off the roads and roofs of the apartments in the complex where I worked. There would be a cool, fresh layer of rainwater atop the lower chlorinated layer of water. If it was the weekend, we’d jump in after the storm had passed and mix it up real good. On weekdays, we’d close the pool for the day, and head home!

Here in the Highlands, though, the storms seem to stick around longer and the air that follows them is so much cooler. The thunder reverberates over and over again off the mountains after the first big boom. It sends Han screaming into the arms of the nearest parent. Abi growls back at the noise.

My May flowers are perking up. I’ve transformed a strip of woodlands in our back yard into a flowerbed for native flowers. I have Jack-in-the-pulpits, phlox, violets, Solomon’s seal, mayapples, yarrow, wild rose, wild strawberry….its gardening on the cheap. I know that these plants will grow here because I’ve transplanted them from around the yard and the county. It also is easy on the budget.

(Aside: Hannah matter-of-factly said this to me yesterday: “Mama, when you pull up flowers from beside the road, its stealing.” Argh. I asked her who told her that. She said, “No one, I just know.” Oh man. Where do I go from there? I guess no more pit stops to pull weeds out of ditches.) (Where do you fall in this argument? Median and roadside flower picking is a time honored tradition passed down from my mother! I once nearly wet my pants on Route 460 when a State Trooper rounded the bend and the trunk of my Sentra was filled with state-funded-wildflower-beautification-project poppies, with me wiping the dirt off of my hands.) (You have ME to thank for those signs that are now posted: "WILDFLOWERS. DO NOT PICK.")

I ran into the ladies from the Garden Club at Wal-Mart the other day and got a big batch of plant divisions that will fill out the flower bed under the bird feeder. I think I spent $10 – but really not, because I had a return to make at WM from something I found in a moving box…I got $14 from that…so I got plants and half a teaspoon of gas. HA! Year before last, before we moved, I had saved a bunch of seeds from my plants down in Chesapeake. So, this year, I planted them (last year I was too pregnant to garden): Queen Anne’s lace, Pink Catchfly, Delphinium, foxgloves, and Zinnias. Actually, I bought more Zinnias at the Dollar Tree this year. I’ve also planted a bunch of sunflower seeds from my birdseed stash, and seed corn sprung up from squirrel corn we bought last year.

All that to say, maybe we’ll have a pretty garden this summer with lots of cut flowers…AND with lots of seeds for the chickens and the girls. Of everything about our old yard, it’s the flowers I miss most. Hannah is on this kick of telling us she misses our old house – “the windows.” Man, we had some great windows at that old house. But the flowers were the best part of the outside by far.

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