Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rats and Bleeding Hearts

The peas are well up, the lilacs are blooming, and the bleeding hearts are dripping their flowers over drifts of violets. I found today to my surprise that apple blossoms have a powerful, sweet scent. How did I not know that, after all these years in the garden?

While planting those bleeding hearts a few weeks ago I pulled up, in my bare hand, the dry skull of a rat. I knew it was a rat skull because I had put a dying rat under the shade of the rose of sharon last fall, after we found the screaming thing in the back yard, hurt and terrified and dying. I wondered then whether there was anything I could do for it, other than get it away from the dogs and keep it out of the sun. I considered all the grisly ways I could help it into the great beyond, but in the end could do nothing but give it shade and let it be. And so now when I look at the bleeding hearts I also remember a dying rat, and how it made me feel like a coward. There are hellebores and daffodils and hostas in that bed, too, and I like it very much.

The dogs may have been responsible for the rat, or it may have been the feral neighborhood cats. At Noah's suggestion we put in a little fish pond this spring, and stocked it with four little feeder fish from the pet store. They did well and grew madly for a few weeks, and I could see them jumping after food as I looked out the second floor bathroom window. And then one day three of them were gone, and today the last one went. The neighbor over the back fence says there is a heron that has eaten her neighbor's fish, and I suppose it could have also been a raccoon. But I see those cats in my backyard, walking the fence tops, and I blame them for it all, the fish, the rat, all of it.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A friend returns

The bat is back. I hope of course, that it is the bats, plural, that area back. It is the first really warm night of spring, an eighty degree day of sun and a mild night with soft breeze. And so as dark fell I went outside to look up as the stars appeared, and to wait for the bat, though not with much hope as there aren't yet very many bugs. But he arrived, my friend did. I wonder what kind he is, and if he is affected by the bat plague, and whether he is the last sad holdout of his kind, because there used to be multiple bats in the summer night sky, but the last years I have usually only seen the one. He looks to be larger than the little brown bats I've seen in Main, and one of which I removed from a terrified housemate's room in Boston. This guy, this suburban bat, seems of a more substantial kind.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Truly Spring

The daffodils are blooming, as are the camellias. The camellias are more brown than pink this year, due to the cold winter, but they are blooming none the less. The tops of the trees are blasted, though, with a foot or so of each high branch brown and crisp. There is a spray of cheerful forsythia draped over the fence behind the (still leafless) rose of sharon thicket. Below the rose of sharon, where I can see them from the living room window, I have moved the Hellebores that used to live in the shade of the ornamental plum tree by the kitchen. I thought they would thrive there, and that I would admire them when I gazed out the window on a cold day, but they have been ravaged by squirrels that seem to think that patch of ground is their private property. Other plant friends are starting to wake up - the snouts of lilies are poking above ground, the oregano is green and growing, and there are buds on the lilacs, though the flowers are weeks away, I think. I cut the year's first asparagus tonight. It is spring, truly.

I can't recall ever feeling so relieved that winter is over, as if this year winter were some malevolent force that we have suffered through. Like the camellias, I feel blackened by it. We did go sledding, and drink hot chocolate, and celebrate Christmas. And yet I hope there isn't another winter like this last one for a long time.