Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Benediction of Rain

We owe a mighty vote of thanks to all the folks who were praying for rain. Two storms, one yesterday, another due in tonight, are expected to bring four to six inches in the lowlands and more on the hills. What a difference a little bit of moisture makes.

Even thought it's not nearly enough to save us from unprecedented drought -- the current soakings will only bring total rainfall so far to not quite forty percent of normal -- the backyard is a whole new place. How long has it been since there were fat water droplets clinging to the textured surface of the kale leaves? It seems like years.

There is a softness in the air, a new urgency in the song of the birds, and a sweet fragrance from the darkened soil. St. Francis had it right when he praised "Sister Water, so humble and precious and clean."

There is a heightened awareness now, all across California, of every precious drop, gallon, and acre foot. Trying to do my small part, I set out a plastic garbage can in the back yard as an instant rain water cachement system. A few inches have been collected already from the first storm. It's a tiny tiny drop in an extremely large bucket (the whole state and its water deficit) but it works as a consciousness raising gesture.

We are ready for the next storm, and the next.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hyacinth and Friends

A little white hyacinth is blooming in our backyard, where no hyacinth has bloomed before!!! I've bought them before, of course, at the supermarket, in tiny ceramic pots for forced blooming indoors. After all, who can resist a hyacinth in the springtime?

This one was growing up out of a pile of compost. I imagine the spent bulb came out with the kitchen scraps and landed in a propitious spot. Not realizing what it was -- no blooms were showing -- I unwittingly uprooted it while shoveling compost and adding insult to injury, or rather injury to insult, I sliced off a bit of the bulb with the shovel.

When I saw what it was I immediately planted it in the rich soil along the fence. I was sure it was done for, but plants can surprise you and I am always ready to be surprised. How nice to be rewarded with an un-looked for bloom. Let's hope it prospers in its new home as a symbol of rebirth, regeneration, and second chances, or, actually, third chances: house, compost pile, and now, planting bed. A three-time winner and a fitting tribute to the beautiful youth Hyacinth, beloved by Apollo but accidentally, tragically, slain by him and immortalized in an ever renewing flower.

Flowering at the same time across the yard in the bed along the other fence is a little mystery bulb, a migrant from the front yard. It must have come in with the leaf litter I collect in the front yard to cover paths in the back yard, following the permaculture practice of using onsite materials whenever possible.

There are dozens of these unknowns in the front yard, coming up every spring as long as we have lived here. And now they will be colonizing the backyard too. Another un-looked for spring bloom.

The wild onions are also blooming now in the shade under the plum trees. No mysteries or surprises are involved. These are tenacious weeds I happen to be fond of. They appear with the early spring bloomers and spread opportunistically everywhere there's an opening. I like them as additions to spring salads -- all parts are edible and have a mild oniony tang.

What all three of these pretty volunteer plants with their hopeful white flowers have in common is that they have chosen to grow in our yard. May they prosper (within reason).

Friday, February 21, 2014

Spring Begins, Again

It's been a long, long journey round the sun since the last heralding of backyard plum blossoms. But spring springs eternally and nothing can stop its burgeoning progress. Neither 500-year-drought nor neglectful gardeners with other priorities will hold it back. Welcome, little beauties! We are really, really glad to see you, bringing fresh chances and new opportunities to begin again.