Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Fleur

This is where I wish I was right now,

but this is where I am.

I'd love to be listening to the song birds chirping away in this beautiful spring meadow,

instead of a quartet of chain smokers covered in tattoos and paint, wheeling deafening power tools.

(I have nothing against tats by the way, but don't they know smoking can kill you?)

It would be lovely to be sitting on that bench under the crabapple tree,

in preference to coming eye to eye with a painter just outside the bathroom window.

Even though our little 1929 house needs a lot of upkeep, I'm still very grateful for it. The painters and carpenters are doing a great job, they show up at eight in the morning, thankfully not seven, work hard into the evening and then they come back again the next day! I'm always relieved when they stay on the job until it's finished instead of tearing everything up and disappearing for weeks. There's absolutely nothing to complain about. It's not like they have been here forever, it just seems that way.

So I continue to fantasize about being in the pretty meadow at Olbrich Botanical Gardens,


to the tune of the Army Song.

The marching band from the middle school down the street does have to practice somewhere.
Not sure what's so inspiring about caissons rolling along but it's definitely become an ear worm.

Not to be outdone, Burt decided to join in and make some noise, too. Glad he has taken the time to put on some eye protection, but I can think of all sorts of trouble he could get into with a table saw.


                          Talk about some things being best left to the imagination!

Good to see both hands are actually intact,

because it's also dandelion season!

No dandelions here in the meadow, just wild tulips and daffodils.

Thanks for stopping by!

So what's your favorite fantasy escape?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A lot of Wordiness on Wild Flowers

A few years ago I came across some reproductions of vintage travel posters done for the South Shore Line, a train that still runs along Lake Michigan from Chicago to South Bend, Indiana. Several of them promote a national lakeshore park called Indiana Dunes. Since Nick grew up in South Bend and has fond memories of the dunes, I thought they would fill up that empty space on the kitchen wall. Plus I had this large frame I'd picked up for next to nothing and really needed to find a use for it.

Since there are quite a few different types of posters available and it was hard to decide on just one, so I've collected a few and rotate them with the seasons. Well, to be honest I try to switch them out with the seasons but sometimes like in Camelot, summer often lingers into fall. More precisely in this instance, Spring In the Dunes stays up until October and Happy Halloween usually doesn't exit until Christmas Eve. Negligence aside, it was a surprise when Burt pointed out a Jack-in-the-Pulpit among the trilliums, violets, ferns and marsh marigolds. How did we miss seeing it all this time?

Of course one of the deciding factors in selecting this poster, after it met the initial criteria of being cheap and fitting into the frame, was that all these wild flowers are native to our areas, the upper midwest. So I went out in see if this design could actually exist or if it was just artistic license. Although it seemed pretty unlikely that these particular plants could be found in the wild, growing together in such profusion and blossoming all at the same time. Maybe not completely impossible?

This Jack-in-the-Pulpit came up in my backyard a couple years ago with white trilliums, ferns and wood violets but not the marsh marigolds, which I've never really tried to grow. Since I didn't have a blog and had not made up this silly quest at the time, I failed to include the trilliums and other plants in the photo. Ok, so four out of five. Jack-in-the-Pulpits are elusive flowers, some years half a dozen of those oddly shaped blooms come up and then the next year, by which I mean this year, there's nothing at all. The trilliums did come up this year along with ferns and lots of violets! Since the best place to find wildflowers is in the woods, we trekked up to Mosquito Hill to continue the hunt.

 Lots of trilliums but the Jack-in-the-Pulpits weren't open. I guess what makes wild flowers so special is that they come and go so quickly, by the middle of summer there is rarely any evidence they were ever there at all. They come up, blossom and then poof, they're gone until they return in the spring.   

Moving on, up the hill, on the lookout for wildflowers but mostly encountering mosquitoes. 

Trillium and ferns on the hillside, looking nothing like the poster!

In the middle of May, around the time of my grandmother's birthday, she and I would go walking in the woods on our farm in search of blooming wild flowers. Gram knew the names of all the trees and plants and taught me many useful things, like the Jack-in-the-Pulpits can give you a rash or if you pick the trillium flowers it will kill the plant, and that fiddle head ferns should be sauté in butter before eating, but it's an acquired taste! I would pick a little bouquet of wood violets for her, being careful not to disturb their roots, and she always said it was her favorite birthday gift ever.

Back at the hunt, there are lots of Columbines growing out of the limestone cliffs near the top, but none of the poster flowers. Now that I think about it logically the whole concept is totally impossible, since most of those plants are usually found in shady, drier ground while the others thrive in the moist soil near streams. Oh well, it was fun to see all the other wild flowers along the way, and who knows what special ecosystem might have been present at the Dunes to have inspired the poster's artist.

Temporarily giving up the quest, there was a sea of May Apples on the forest floor on the top of the hill, contradicting the notion that all wildflowers are small, delicate and pastel! Once again there were violets everywhere, some unopened Jack-in-the-Pulpits but no trillium, ferns, or marsh marigolds. 

Ok, not a wild flower but catching a glimpse of a gorgeous Scarlet Tanager is always amazing.

Back on the hunt for wildflowers, these little Hepatica are on the north side of the hill and were closed up because it was too cold, in spite of their fur coats. Others, further towards the top of the hill were fully open taking advantage of the extra warmth. It's not looking good for the poster flowers.

The last chance for finding the five flowers together was the natural home of the Marsh Marigolds around the frog pond, but it was so cold even the frogs weren't out that day. 

The search ended without finding the plants and flowers blooming all together but to be honest it didn't really matter because we had a nice walk in the woods. At last we did come upon some yellow flowers, and yes Burt, they are still Violets even if they're yellow  . . . 

. . . no matter how you choose to look at  it.

Thanks for stopping by!
Have you had a long walk this spring? What did you see?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Flowers Bloom & Burt Gets to Work

After what seemed like a very long wait, the spring flowers are finally here!!!

Our Star Magnolia is the always the first tree on the street to come back to life in the spring.

I wait anxiously for those heady fragrant blooms to appear,
hoping they don't come out too early and end up getting frozen in a snowstorm.

This year was just perfect!

I took lots and lots and lots of photos.

I have no self control.

In the backyard a few other blooms popped up.

Trilliums under the crabapple.

Ferns, unfurling amid the . . .


Of course there's lots of weeds to pull up everywhere!

So here are a few more spring flowers. Trilliums because they're just so pretty,

funny checkerboard fritillaria,

and cheerful anemones.

So before spring slips through your fingers . . . 

. . . remember to stop and smell the lilacs,

because Halloween is only 175 days away!

Ok, bear with me, just two more photos of the magnolia.

Thanks for visiting and to all the moms and grandmas out there
to humans and pets, best wishes for a Happy Mother's Day!