Thistle Seed Sock and Lilac Dreams

March 5, 2011

It is snowing this morning, in perfect puffy clusters of flakes of perfect six-sided flakes, pointed and sharp and crystal clear.

I find the bag of thistle seed in the laundry room and put a bowl on the floor of the kitchen. With the bottom of my new seed sock in the bowl, I squeeze the bag of seed between my knees while tipping it into the sock that I’m holding with the other hand.

Feeling pretty talented in the large motor skills area right about now. Seed jumps out of the holes in the sock and most of it is caught in the bowl; there is a scattering all around on the floor. It looks like mouse droppings. I tighten the end of the sock and walk into the garden to hang it.

There! We are back in action, again a way station for those gold- and purple finches. I’ve missed them.

The glass-topped sticks sink into the ground, pink first and then blue. I should have bought five of them – wouldn’t that have been pretty, marching in a row along the flagstone? (My mother would make fun of me and peep “Birds and Blooms! Birds and Blooms!”, the name of this magazine I once found myself an unpaid subscriber of – filled with gardens stuffed with tchotkes, including bicycles and toilets – very high-class) I will make do with what I have and add in the older ones as the weather gets nicer and I pull them out of the attic.

Those garish metal daisies are sunk into the bed with the hydrangeas and the big grasses. I pull out the terrifically askew shepherd’s hook with the “Love Shack” bird house and push it back into the ground, now straight and true.

The snow increases. I crouch on the path, waiting for clusters to drop near me so I can make a photograph. Amazingly, the flakes swirl around, never landing near me – I am annoyed. I catch a few, here and there, but none are very successful images.

I see a bright patch of green, the blue fescue coming out of dormancy. I can see scads of eyes ripening on one of the new hydrangeas, the bellflower is greening up and the coral bells are starting to green as well.

The Damn Rabbits have been voracious; biting, chewing, snapping with those sharp vicious fangs. My foxglove is decimated, the spirea nubs – everywhere is evidence of their happiness with the fresh, tender salad bar. God, I hate ’em. Wednesday, I was at a client’s, a landscaper designer, out in Peotone. He showed me real Damn Rabbit damage, bushes with bark chewed completely off, yards and yards of twigs and branches just ruined, like a body with its skin removed in some twisted ritual of torture and sacrifice. Cambium exposed, those bushes now need replacing – dozens of them. It is so sad. They can’t eat the dandelions? the thistle bushes or sticker plants? The CLOVER, for cripes sake?!

Deep breath now….

The veggie garden brick edging has begun to collapse, blocks sliding into the center. Another spring todo…

In the butterfly bed, the liatris has gone to seed, black on the bottom and tan on the top, soft and fluffy in my fingers. I am confused because liatris is sold as a corms which is similar to a bulb but different (a bulb will have growing rings inside when cut apart; corms will not).

Sedum unfurls, green and waxy rosettes, more and more each day.

The daffodil leaves are bright lime on the top, deeper green on the bottom, that lime stretching farther and farther up towards the sun each day, more and more dark green emerging from the soil each day. More and more sprouts emerge each day. Every spring, I forget how full this bed really is, how the daffodils multiply underground and how those bulbs really love the heat from that sewage outtake. Sounds a little like Chernobyl, huh?

I look up and see a truly beautiful sight. My lilac bush, the one that did so very well its first summer, last summer, is covered in buds. Last summer, sitting here in the full sun, stored so much energy and food that we’ll get an even bigger show this spring. On the tip of each stem, twin buds like teardrops. Down the stem, more twins, every few inches. Inside every bud, dreams of purple and green and lush, sweet fragrance, all compacted into that tiny little space.

The snow is still heavier now, but I can only think of the lilacs.

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