bunt sign

Thursday, March 29, 2001

pussywillow, in greenMore and more green seems to be covering the brown and gray with every day that goes by. I look out every day and see more leaves filling in the birch tree I thought was dead. Groves of different kinds of trees grow at the edges of the fields, and they're all getting greener at varying rates. It's happening so quickly that it's like watching a time-lapse nature show.

The wild grasses that grow in my yard are so diverse in detail that I find something different every time I walk out the door. I'm always finding a plant that I haven't seen before, and even the ones I've come to recognize are growing and changing.

This matter of the diversity of life has embedded itself in the area of my brain that deals with gardening matters. That's a pretty primitive area, but my yard is wild and primitive in its own way. This week, I've spent an hour or so each evening pulling up anything that looked like a weed, but at the end of it all the yard looks worse instead of better.

There are now bare spots amid all the waving grasses. These patches of brown look out of place, as if they've been staked out of the jungle by a development company. I thought I was pulling up plants that would choke out other, more desirable plants, but I got carried away and pulled up everything in front of me.

Fortunately, I'm just a greenhorn without much staying power, so there was only so much damage I could do. Taking another look now, at the end of the week, I like the wild growth more than the bald spots. And I know those spots will fill in before I can decide to do any more harm.

So here's what it's come to. No more indiscriminate weed pulling. If I want to clear out a certain area, say the walkway or an especially overgrown patch near the porch, I'll do it. If I see something ugly that detracts from the rest of the yard, I might yank it out. But I won't go on any more of these mindless binges of two-handed demolition and destruction. That way lies guilt.

Of course, that's easier said than done. Just today, when I had about a quarter of the yard waste container yet to fill, I decided to pull off the dead camellia blossoms and trim back the bush. Before I knew what was happening, I'd lopped off enough branches to make the bush about half the size it had been. I couldn't seem to stop myself, even when I realized what I was doing.

I have to admit, it does look better. Those are lovely flowers when they show up so early in the spring, almost the first sign of real color in the new year. But once they start to turn yellow and brown, it's a sorry sight. I'd be surprised if I didn't have a lot fewer camellias when next spring comes around.

Later this evening I was walking around the garden, looking more closely at some of the plants that I haven't paid attention to before. And I was amazed again at the variety, awed by it in fact. I began to realize once again how privileged I am to live here.

With all this green, I'm getting worried about many of the oak trees that I can see from my yard, and one in particular that's actually within the yard. I don't know if some trees are on different developmental schedules from others, but when I see so many that are showing more and more foliage every day, I wonder about the ones that still look as dead as they did in December.

Disease has taken a lot of old oaks, here in Sonoma County and even more in Marin County, to the south. Many have already been removed. I'd hate to see the rows of trees on Llano Road destroyed by this blight, even if it has to be done to save the healthy trees. They look so sturdy, and they've been around forever. It would be a shame to lose them.

hawk on the wing

Another way I know spring is here is by the sudden presence of every kind of pollinating insect, humming and buzzing around. Bees of all types, hornets and wasps, and one humungous bumblebee who always seems to be around. I call him Buster. He's a real black-and-yellow presence in the yard, almost as big as a small bird, meandering around from flower to flower.

Speaking of which... David dropped by unexpectedly this afternoon. I didn't expect him and he wasn't expecting to stop, but he was on his way to work when a wasp flew into his truck and got inside his shirt. He ripped off the shirt and threw it out the window. My place was the closest haven he had. I gave him Lanacaine, and he retrieved his shirt, shaking it out to get rid of the offending wasp. The welt on his arm was swelling badly, but he headed off to work. I would've been out for the rest of the day, if it had been me.

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