Under Our Umbrella May 9, 2011
Just the other day, I was attending a professional dinner meeting, so I traded my usual work clothes and boots for a simple dress and heels. And just as I arrived at the restaurant, it started to rain … and I don't mean just pitter-patter, pitter-patter. It was the start of what was soon to be a great, big thunderstorm. I stepped out of my car and prepared to run for it, and, wouldn't you know, my first step was into a giant puddle. Needless to say, I was squishing around in my heels with soggy toes for the rest of the night.
The latest wet weather has left many wringing out their wet socks in search of higher and drier land. It's not a good feeling to be constantly wet - so wet you feel you'll never get dry. If you're in one of these regions with above average rainfall right now, you know this feeling. Now imagine how your trees must feel.
Constant rain, storms and flood watches have us all protecting our socks with good shoes, strategically avoiding puddles and cleaning our gutters so our homes and toes stay dry. But what about our plants and trees? Those poor perennials and conifers, particularly those placed in low areas, are left to tough it out, stuck in the muck. Driving through my neighborhood, I've seen more than one tree surrounded by a large puddle of water that looks like it's not draining anytime soon.Read More
Head in the Clouds April 26, 2011
Last summer, on a day when the sky was a perfect, azure blue, my 3½-year- old daughter, Sylvia, stopped playing in her sandbox and came over to sit in the patio chair beside me. She sunk her body into the seat and leaned her head as far back as the recliner would let her. Exhaling with a giant sigh, reflecting her happiness and welcome break from her time spent building castles and small villages, she said, "Momma, put your head back and look up at the beautiful trees in the blue sky."
It was the first time she said something that seemed so adult because it was so reflective and observant. I immediately complied. And the rush of a typical day, along with its deadlines and constant interruptions, melted away. We watched the soft, fluffy clouds roll by and the wind flutter every leaf on every tree, commenting on the sound and the way the light filtered through the trunks as it descended in the sky. But mostly we just observed. And, in that moment, we made a mother-daughter memory.
Many of my family's memories tend to center around nature. On a recent visit to the beach, Sylvie and I made wind chimes out of seashells. After each addition, she'd pick up the chime to hear the tink, tink, tink of the shells as the wind caught them, listening intently and then saying we "should add just one more." We have spent time during every season in local parks, building snowmen and sledding in winter, observing new plant buds in spring, smelling sweet flowers in summer and collecting the prettiest leaves in the fall. We tend to have the most fun in our own backyard. I think it's because we spend the most time there working the soil and observing. We've planted many vegetable, fruit and flower seeds in our garden together - digging holes, dropping seeds in, covering them up and giving the soil extra little pats along with water to get it moist. We have sat under many a tree and reflected on birds flying to and from their nests, watched bunnies hopping around the garden and just enjoyed the shade. But this will be the first year we plant a tree together.Read More
A Different Kind of "Twitter" April 11, 2011
It was finally spring. I'm playing catch in the backyard with my brother, and that's when I hear it - so small it's almost inaudible. A tiny, yet piercing "Peep! Peep! Peep!" I stop the game and motion for my brother to come over quietly. The sound seems to be coming from a nearby tree. We tiptoe closer to investigate.
The "peeping" gets louder, and we can tell there is more than one creature taking part in this chorus. Our imaginations run wild: Have fairies made a home in our backyard? Have dinosaurs returned and are laying eggs in our trees?
We stop right in front of a full evergreen where the noise seems to be concentrated. I look at my brother. He looks at me; his eyes wide with curiosity and fear. Looks like I'll have to be the brave one. I reach forward, grabbing two clusters of branches and slowly pull them apart. And then I giggle.Read More
EAB: Fact or Fiction March 29, 2011
I'll probably show my age with this post, but I vividly remember several sleepless nights as a youngster after watching the movie Empire of the Ants. You might think the start of the movie is Joan Collins, but from a childhood perspective the stars are colossal insects wreaking havoc on their human neighbors.
Childhood nightmares of giant insects aside, there are real pests that wreak havoc on our landscapes, causing tremendous monetary loss-not to mention the emotional toll of losing a favorite tree.
If you live in the Midwestern U.S. or Canada, you've probably heard a good deal about the emerald ash borer - or EAB. In this spirit of a good science fiction movie, let's separate the real from the imaginary with this topic.Read More