Mid-May in the Yard

Bee May 16

Earlier this week some parts of our area had overnight frost, then temperatures flared into the eighties. Bees and hover flies responded to the summer-like conditions with greatly increased activity, much to the delight of our Fourth of July rose.

Hoverfly May 15

Unfortunately, other insect activity also increased. The daisies and petunias were somewhat less delighted.

Daisy Damage May 15

Petunia Damage May 15

And this damselfly had to be rescued from an abandoned spider web.

Damselfly May 7

Damselfly May 7

While increasing insect activity gave me the opportunity to experiment with my camera’s macro functions, the yard’s quickening was visible on larger scales, as well. The cardinals’ nestlings fledged last week, which led to a few days of frantic visits to the feeder, followed by conspicuous absence as the little family moved on to explore other yards.

Cardinal May 2

The squirrel kittens never returned, after that one brief visit, but the adult squirrels have been growing more playful and tolerant of each other as they approach the beginning of a new breeding season. Perhaps there will be more kittens, later this summer.

Squirrels May 2

Squirrels May 2

Squirrels May 9

Perhaps there will be more of everything. Especially more long, lazy afternoons with bright pools of sunshine and breezy, open windows.

Rabbit May 2

Cat May 9

Cat May 15

In a word, more serenity.

Daisies May 15

(During my spring flower frenzy, I bought the flowers in the above photo because their labels said “Serenity”. They are Serenity series African daisies, and I’ve planted them right beside the front door…)

Finding Spring

Hyacinths March 16

Today was so warm that I pulled the lawn mower out of the shed, checked my gloves for spiders, and spent several hours working outside. As I scraped away layers of leaves, twigs, and mud, I found traces of spring in every corner of the yard.

Dandelion March 16

Irises March 16

Hydrangea March 16

Wax Myrtle March 16

Pear Tree March 16

After finishing in the yard, I opened the windows, took off my shoes, and invited spring into the house.

Windows March 16

Too Soon for Spring

Rose Jan 20

The yard seems blissfully unaware of next week’s weather forecast, which calls for overnight temperatures in the teens and highs barely above freezing.

Pear Tree Jan 20

Perhaps the yard knows more about forecasting weather than our current computer models? The roses, pear tree, and hydrangea have roused from their winter slumber, as have the tulips and hyacinths.

Hydrangea Jan 20

Tulips Jan 20

(This is the same hyacinth that I photographed earlier this month…)

Hyacinth Jan 20

It’s not just the plants. A swarm of hoverflies invaded the yard today.

Hoverfly Jan 20

And the winter flocks of robins have broken up. They chirp testy challenges to each other as they forage, defending larger and larger spheres of territory. Last week, seven or eight birds happily shared the pear tree’s branches. Today, there was only one.

Robin Jan 20

The weeds needed mowing yesterday, which shaved off an entire crop of blooms. A few escaped the mower’s blades, mostly those growing in the iris beds and cactus pots.

Deadnettle Jan 20

Weed Jan 20

While photographing weeds, I noticed the old cactus seems to have produced some kind of seed this year. Would I get a new cactus, if I planted it?

Cactus Jan 20

Finally, I considered washing the windows today, but decided to put it off again. They aren’t completely opaque, yet…

Cat Jan 20

I’ll get to it later this week. Maybe.

A Sunny Mid-Winter Day

Shadows Jan 7

Today’s bright sunshine lured me into the yard, where I spent the afternoon starting (but not finishing) a number of chores. My first job involved two small bird houses, which have become a winter refuge for spiders. Determined to avoid more encounters with black widow spiders, I wanted to clean out the webs and evict any venomous guests.

Spiderweb Jan 7

I’ve been dreading this task, and I was relieved when a clump of weeds with tiny white flowers gave me an excuse to put off confronting the spiders.

Weed Jan 7

After photographing the unfamiliar weed (I believe it might be hairy bittercress), I crawled through patches of henbit and speedwell, trying to capture their enchanting beauty.

Henbit Jan 7

Speedwell Jan 7

I crossed half of the yard on my hands and knees before I remembered the bird feeders. Dusty and empty, all of the feeders needed attention. Under the second feeder, I found a cicada molt.

Cicada Molt Jan 7

A short time later, I moved into the front yard. Before reaching the final bird feeder, I stopped to take a photo of paperwhites.

Paperwhite Jan 7

Beside the paperwhites, a single hyacinth was trying to bloom. Trying unsuccessfully, for the moment, because something has been grazing on it.

Hyacinth Jan 7

Hyacinth Jan 7

A quick search for suspects found a rabbit hiding in the irises and a squirrel trying to hide in a nearby tree. They both looked guilty to me.

Rabbit Jan 7

Squirrel Jan 7

Distracted by rabbits and squirrels, I never finished the last feeder. I also didn’t get to the windows, which are disgracefully dirty.

Cat Jan 7

But I don’t regret my disorganized day, which ended on a sunny, sleepy note.

Cat Jan 7

I can clean bird houses, feeders, and windows some other day, some cloudy day when the yard doesn’t sparkle with wonders.


Crochet Jan 3

Mother taught me how to sew, but she never tackled crochet.

Crochet Jan 3 2s

Even if she had tried to teach me how to crochet, I’m not convinced that I could have learned. Not then.

Crochet Jan 3

I was a child of tenuous patience and headstrong temper. Our sessions at the sewing machine often deteriorated into battles of will. Mother would scowl over a poorly cut pattern or knotted seam. Start over and do it right this time. I would bristle, hurt by what felt like rejection. This is good enough for me, even if it isn’t perfect. I hurled the word “perfect” at her, a stone made of childish frustrations, and she tossed it back with the strength of a tested parent. I’m not looking for perfect, I just want you to do it again.

Lured by the unknown, and miserably bored with the exacting practice of the known, I would dig out a skein of yarn and one of her crochet needles. Teach me this. She would put them away again. I can’t remember how to do it.

Crochet Jan 3

By the time I got married, I had almost forgotten my fascination with crochet. Then I saw an afghan that my mother-in-law had made. A few years later, when my father-in-law needed heart surgery, we shared our waiting room seats with a bag of yarn and a shiny assortment of crochet needles. She taught me how to make chains and rows and squares. How to read and follow a pattern. Later, she took me shopping for yarn and helped me start my first big project. Then she laughed at my obsessive determination to make scarves for everyone I knew, plus a few afghans, all in time for Christmas.

Crochet Jan 3

I failed my Christmas quest that first year, but eventually did make scarves for nearly everyone. And afghans.

Crochet Jan 3

Like everything else, my crochet enthusiasm waxes and wanes. I’ll spend months finishing a project, then put my needles away for a year or more. Lately, in another surge of cleaning up and clearing out, I’ve been trying to use up my embarrassing mountain of yarn. (I can’t resist a yarn sale…)

Crochet Jan 3

This week I’m making an afghan, from a sackful of “Vanna’s Choice” yarn.

Crochet Jan 3

Vanna (the cat) can’t decide whether to be flattered or shocked…