Living on Light & Water

In the throes of doing my taxes last week, I was NOT aware of the beauty of nature around  me, NOT thinking how fresh and clear the air was after the dawn rainstorm.  I was NOT thinking of beauty or health or clarity.  I was thinking about MONEY.  How I HATE it.  How I don’t have ENOUGH of it.  My back to the sun, I stalked across the field, shoulders tense, head down – so I had to notice the brilliant droplets clinging to the blades of grass.  Electric blues, flaming oranges, rubies, emeralds, amethysts and gold; jewels in every spectrum-hue flung themselves at my feet.

“I could live on these,” I thought.  On tiny bright portions of light and water.

Days later, taxes turned in, stress level ratcheted down a few notches (now accepting recommendations for small-business accountants), I realize that I DO live on light and water.  Money is nothing but a disturbing societal invention.  I just need a new business plan.  It is light and water that power me through each day.  The nursery’s plants exist and grow because of light and water.

Light and water have filled the nursery with plants reaching out for more!  The Foamflower (Tiarella trifoliata) has woken up.  Hunkered down flat all winter under the shelter of a big Dougals Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), bright three-part leaves stretch up to the spring light.  They will bloom all summer, small plumes lifting up to two feet tall, above the foliage.  The clusters of tiny flowers are white.  Did you know that white encompasses all the colors of the spectrum?  (more on Foamflower)

The Grand Fir (Abies grandis) is responding well to light and water (and weeding, and chip-hauling…).  They have a respectable three-foot start on their future lives as elegant tall members of the ecological community.  If you have a well-drained site, you may consider this evergreen tree.  It will host plenty of life in its beautiful canopy of shiny dark-green needles – and shade the Foamflower.

Living on tiny bright portions (cash helps too)…

Easter Eggs

Hunting for Easter eggs?  Tadpole Haven has eggs!  The Pacific Chorus Frogs have been busy.  The kiddy pools where we grow wetland plants are full of egg clutches.  These clusters of brown-and-cream colored eggs are in a chicken-egg size clump of clear jelly bigger than the frog that laid it!  The females lay their eggs around narrow stems of shoreline plants such as Marsh Cinquefoil (Potentilla palustris), Water Parsley (Oenanthe sarmentosa), Common Rush (Juncus effusus) and even the roots and smaller stems of Red-Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea). 

 Chorus Frogs live in shady forest during the year and only come to lakes and ponds to breed.  The tadpoles are tiny—about ½” long—and will metamorphose into tiny frogs by fall if their pond is warm and sunny enough.  I’m afraid we may have had some casualties last fall; there were still tadpoles in the pools in October.  Maybe we’ll have a warmer spring this year, though it sure has been chilly so far!

 Even though I found myself driving through a snowstorm yesterday, I’m seeing new life and activity in and around the nursery.  I spotted a rusty-striped Garter Snake sunning—yes, SUNNING—itself on top of some sticks yesterday.  A pair of Bald Eagles is hanging out by the lake.  I got a good look at one flying a couple of days ago, and yesterday a patch of bright white—the eagle’s head–gave away the raptor’s location, a perch in a distant White Pine (Pinus monticola).

 My sister found the head—just the head—of a female Mallard Duck on the dock.  Perhaps the eagle was the guilty party.  Yuck.  Ah, well, Circle of Life, eat-and-be-eaten, Death into Life.  Who are we trying to kid?  We’re all subject to the laws of nature, whether we are a cute ducky or a businessman in a BMW.

 I’d rather talk about the Bumblebees and Rufous Hummingbird nursing the blossoms of the big Red-Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum), the pretty new growth on the Cascade Penstemons (Penstemon serrulatus), the bright yellow-green sprouts emerging from the formerly dead-looking Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) pots and preparing for their annual outrageous growth spurt.  And FINALLY the Oak Fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris) is showing some life—a few miniscule nano-fronds curling up from the dirt.  I can hardly wait until they are a frilly carpet of brilliant green.

 Come hunt some (frog) eggs and garter snakes, see if you can spot the Oak Fern fronds, get buzzed by Rufus the Hummingbird, listen for the crows announcing the eagle’s arrival. And whether celebrating Resurrection, Fertility Goddesses or just a great Spring Weekend, we’ll all be celebrating New Life.

 To Life!