Last Sunday, after a brief rendezvous' with Squire, who had gotten home in
the wee hours of the morning after unsuccessfully trying to get home the day
before, I went to pick him up and get down to business with the "great
unloading". That is to say, when he gets home, I have to take empty food
containers (he takes his food with him and heats it in a little "lunch box"
that he plugs into his cigarette lighter in the semi truck), his laundry,
the books on tapes that he has in the plastic grocery bag (to turn into at
the used bookstore when we get a moment) and whatever he deems useless over
the road in his little rolling apartment.
We then rushed off to the local Wally world to stock up on his supplies for
the next week, I having covered him in purchasing his smokes for the week
the day before while the tobacco Shoppe was open. We were having good
moments this day, despite the bitter winds that had snuck into the region.
The sun was out, but the winds were sharp and could cut thru a thin jacket.
But the winds carried on them whispers of things needing be done back in
Fairy Holler. I wandered the aisles grabbing up this and that that I needed
at the house, and would connect with Squire as he searched for things on his
list. Today it seemed to work, which usually it doesn't. The hilarity of it
all was when I'd wander too much and get distracted and my cell phone would
ring and it would be him....."baby?? where you at?" the familiar voice over
my little phone would indicate after the "Thick as a Brick" by Jethro Tull
would play instead of the ringer.......(lol) We'd re-hook up and as the
cart was getting a bit too loaded, he steered me towards the nursery, where
I found the Digitalis seeds and the Larkspur seeds for sowing right now
while there are frost potentials to stratify the seeds. He WAS in a good
Once outside, I caught up with him as he was loading up the van and talking
to Sméagol and Sugar who had their heads draped over the back bench seat,
delirious in their dawg time that he'd returned, and adoring him as he
organized the bags into his and mine. The majority of the errands run, I
called my gardening friend who had been so kind to make Squire some pasta
chicken Italian salad to take with him as a change of pace. We had decided
to grab brunch and wanted her to hook up with us as she lives down the
street where we were at.
The brunch went wonderfully, our conversations didn't conflict, she and I
were able to swap gardening banter, and Squire was able to get in some of
his own thoughts and comments rather well, and the day promised to be a
blustery one. Time was flying by and we parted after she visited and loved
on the pooches (they adore her) and Squire and I went home. Once the son
had unloaded the bags that had to come inside, I noticed that the winds
seemed to be perfect for a test run with the dragon kite I'd seen at the
Sam's club and purchased on a whim. His wingspan is 90 inches!
Squire had put away everything that needed placement, son had retreated back
into the dragon cave to the computer downstairs to write more, and making
sure Squire wasn't in immediate need, I informed him that I was going
outside for a short bit and would return soon. I'd already missed the few
gardening shows that warranted watching, and I wanted to see if the dragon
kite would fly.
My entry into the northern pasture was a fiasco. Too many clumps of
blackberry canes to snag the kite material. It wasn't made of silk, but
lightweight enough polyester to give it the proper buoyancy once the winds
filled the mouth. Feeling even more foolish, I was in the LOWER pasture,
which slopes downwards (which makes the actual "holler" that I have a chunk
of with woods and those Jack Pines) making the wind less able to capture the
mouth. I decided to move up and over to the hillside pasture on the
southern side that serves as the dropping off point of Miz Mary's old farm
house. Perfect. Open, no trees, no scrub, no blackberries, just step over
the two electric barb wire strands and hook up the leader clip and fly the
The younger black Angus male's that Miz Mary's brother in law had separated
from the others spotted me and immediately began to make a bee-line towards
me in hopes of something good. I made sounds towards them as I kept trying
to get the kite to gulp wind and fly and eventually I got him up about 30
feet for a few minutes while trying to dissuade young male cows fulla piss
and vinegar and impending Spring (and probably a good castrating..) to
continue approaching me. their curiosity was so funny on their faces. My
sounds of "up, up!!" stopped them and they decided they weren't as curious
as they thought as I kept trying to launch the dragon into the sky.
The winds weren't quite co-operating. But the sun was shining, I had just
enough protective clothes on to cut the chill of the gusting winds to a
minimal, and I had quite a bit of fun in my attempts.
After awhile, I noticed turkey vultures circling just down the hillside and
over the clumps of woods below, as if making fun of my attempts to lift the
huge dragon into their air space. The grace and size of them was so
overpowering and beautiful, I never even gave it a thought of how ugly they
actually are up close. They flew with effortless grace, dipping and
wheeling above the trees on the thermals, banking and circling about just
enjoying the day, since it was obvious there was no road kill to entice them
to pull clean up duty. Today was a lazy, gliding day for them. I envied
them, and watched as they swung around each other and lifted, and my ears
picked up the beautiful melodious sounds of a returned woods resident. The
Mountain bluebirds were back!
The male's song makes the heart burst it's so beautiful and piercing. I can
be driving down one of the country roads around here where there are still
large pastures and rolling spaces and hear his song cut thru the
engine noises and music of my car and I'll turn the radio off and capture
his sweet sounds as he flings them outwards to a hopeful wife. If I could
entice my own family of them with a bluebird house attached to a tree down
in my woods I would, but my bluebirds have their favorite spots, and I don't
want to entice them to be snagged by either my foolish felines or my
neighbor's starving ones. Let the cats have the over abundance of foolish
mourning doves or the starlings that stray up here. The sounds of his song
thrilled me and made me notice more.
The winds refused to work with me this day, and I reeled in the great dragon
to take him back to the house and put into the side room until the next
perfect day. It seemed that March would be coming in like a lion on this
last weekend of February. The chill that had come in on the gusting winds
was starting to cut thru my jacket and I stepped hurriedly over the electric
wires and made my way back down the driveway. And got side swiped by fairy
whisperings that beckoned me to come into the west side gardens and take a
I carefully maneuvered the huge kite thru the narrow opening between the
trumpet vine's umbrella-like bare tendrils and the thin Forsythia great
grand-daughter. As I turned sideways, I noticed tight little buds drooping
on the stems and slight blushes of yellow on the tips. Behind the
Forsythia, I immediately was distracted to see fat, fuzzy buds on the
Lenneii magnolia that appeared to have shot up three foot when I wasn't
looking. And oh oh oh oh........the little Lady Jane magnolia standing
demurely next to Lenneii......WOW, she's taken on some of her own growth as
well, sprouting two foot long branches. And each one is tipped with little
fuzzy promises!! sigh..........
That inspires me to see how well the rest of Fairy Holler is coming
along.......and boy howdy........was I ever in for a surprise! I decided to
stop and put the dragon safely away as I knew I'd be seriously distracted.
Spoke to Squire who was numbing his mind with the Discovery channel about
something ancient, and was down the hallway into the pantry room where I
keep the dragon for now,, speak to Maggie the young, feisty up and coming
Queen in the feline household. She holds court mostly in the kitchen, and
she's followed me from outside when I came back thru the gates. I still
don't encourage her to venture into the fields until Pester's himself takes
We speak briefly, her chirrrping and bitchiness sounds in her voice as I
turn and go back towards the kitchen door and out the deck. She catches my
mood and intent and picks up her pace and is right behind me as I pop the
storm door open to just barely graze the 33 gallon trash can on wheels that
I've filled with enriched potting soils. If I want to take the can over to
the compost pile and just load up compost into the can, I can. But it sits
tightly against the end of the potting table, and as I go to close the door,
Maggie scoots around my feet and heads down the narrow corridor between all
the potted irises and assorted plants.
This drops my intent to total distraction as I look for signs of spring up
on the deck. Silly me! The winds were more noticeable and colder, but the
sights were still to be laughed at and appreciated. Even with winter still
grasping at me and making my hands cold, there in the many pots were signs
of spring. The irises all had green pointy tongues. The various pots of
all sizes just waiting for me to tap them into a waiting hole. The fairies
told me how to fix my iris problem. They hate to be buried, and all of
these were planted last fall in rich soils, now they had hopefully a decent
root system if the iris fairy had been tending them properly...
But just past these many pots of assorted beards, the silly black nursery
pot with the green hair captured my eye. Just near the pot that houses a
cherry tomato every year if I can help it, I saw the most lush and beautiful
pot of Feverfew any self respecting herbal nut would clamber for. I caught
my mind racking for ways to use the fresh greenery. I must remember to look
into my old and reliable herb book and see what I can come up with. I find
the fairies weaving spells to pull me towards the Feverfew and I bent down
and rubbed some fresh ruffled and scalloped leaves between my fingers and
gave a gentle sniff. Ahhhhh, the pungent astringent smell of fresh young
Feverfew. There is no other smell quite like it. It even smells like
medicines that are good for us.
The Japanese variegated sedge made it thru winter in the peat bog mortal
garden. The peat soils were soaked and had standing water on one end, but
the grass looked like some electric punk haircut. I caught myself laughing
out loud with the mental images of it and rose to glance into the window
boxes I've tied to the railings to keep adventurous cats from tippy toeing
and knocking them over. I've worked hard to mess with the right plant
combinations in a few of these and I have had this happen a few times. But
I see Maggie is as fleet footed as a beloved female cat I keep catching
myself thinking of when I watch her.
She reminds me of Fwit, a most awesome Tortoise shell cat (I hope this is
what she was, there is conflict now to what they call a Tortoise and a
Calico, and Fwit was dark shades of browns, with lighter shades, reds, golds
and she had golden eyebrows which gave her a silly, but wisely startled
look. The absolute perfection of what a good cat could be. But Maggie has
the adroit traits of Fwit, who never in the 17 1/2 years ever disturbed a
potted plant. Not a leaf or knocking something over. Although Maggie has
her clumsy moments, so it's not quite like old Fwit whispers at her often
enough. But the way she weaves thru these many plants makes me see the
ghost of Fwit enjoying the deck like she did her last year. And the ghosts
of Pye and Jenners follows behind this spunky kitten who is facinated with
everything around her. Sensory overload.......
I look quickly thru the woods and see they haven't wakened up yet, and catch
sights of birds darting thru all the branches and start listening. They are
fussing at the winds that are cold, and I find that some of the starch and
eagerness for checking the gardens is waning as my hands are cold and the
winds promise even colder temperatures as the day pulls to the end.
I rushed around the end of the deck into the side yard to prevent myself
from backing out and headed straight to the Hellebore patch that I'm
building under the Vitex bush. I've edged almost 2/3rds of the bed with
stacking retaining blocks. I'd have preferred to have gotten the large butt
size, but funds being what they were, I settled on the smaller ones.
they'll do fine. I need something to grip the ground and hold the raised
soils in as this is where the slope starts going downwards.
The path between this bed has an old Spirea that I moved from out front the
first year I was here, an opening with a natural rock for a stepping stone
that I planted Epimedium underneath the Pawlonia daughter tree and young
sugar maple. They're holding the first edge of the first natural terrace.
Opposite the spirea, I look at the spot above the butt rock to see if the
Korean spice viburnum has began to show buds. Tight little knobs stand out
like Goosebumps and I see that the Korean Spirea that successfully
transplanted has two more shoots underneath the original whip. The
Goosebumps on this are more prelevant, and I catch myself grinning to think
they're as cold as I am at the moment.
The Hellebore that make me get down on one knee to look at floor me. Just a
week ago these same plants had hidden and tucked these buds to where I
barely saw them. they remind me I need to scoop fresh compost around them
later on when it's a bit warmer, but the colors of them are awesome. White
with purple freckles, the bells maturing slowly in the cold, but the one
that catches me off guard and marks the moment for later checking is a young
red stem of Hellebore that has one deep maroon blossom that stands out like
a beacon. I tentatively step into the bed to lift the face and gaze at it
in awe. The Hellebore fairy has been pulling overtime. I hope she tinkers
with the seeds and gives me interesting crossed children up the road.
As I carefully swung around, my eyes spotted flashes of color. You'd think
you were seeing half dressed fairies darting underneath the leaves of
things, but I realize it's my own joke to myself of the crocuses I put
underneath the Hellebore one year. I make a promise to the bulb fairy to
plant Squill and Puskinnia this fall with the crocus for further hilarity.
Maybe even an odd species tulip.
The winds are starting to get thru the layers, and I notice the birds are
quieting down, and I pick up a faint sound. I brush the sound off and go
reluctantly inside and Squire tells me he's forgotten one thing, and would I
mind running to the store for it? It's nice enough weather wise that I
decide what the heck, and the dawgs appear out of nowhere to tell me they
are definitely in the mood for another ride with mama, and we load up into
Quick, start up the engine and put the heater fan on low so I don't turn
into an icicle (yes, it was that cold) and head down the driveway to the
road. Shoot down the steep road and thru the stop sign after I determine no
one coming either way, and back up the country road west to sharply curve
due north to rise up to the next ridge and hilltop. These roads were all cow
paths and horse trails, and as I pull thru the woods on one side and the
rolling hillside that is the corner of all the land the old man owns, we
rise to the flat top where his one daughter and her husband have tucked in a
most impressive house into a natural cove that the woods surround in a
natural opening and pasture. On the opposite side is the rest of his land,
that rises and stretches and rolls along the top of the ridge that makes my
own land the holler. I hear a familiar sound.
I slow down and roll the window down, and glancing thru the passenger window
past Sméagol whose riding shotgun, I see the incredible view towards the
mountains and the river and trees beyond, it has to be brief, as I continue
moving past the old man's children's house, and there at the back corner of
their "yard" I hear the sound that stops my breathing. It's unmistakable,
and it's deafening. The sounds of many foolish peepers in full throat
singing like some drunken men intent on getting an early jump on the
reluctant females who are hunkered down all cold. I put my flashers on and
stop and listen. their volume incredible considering how the temperatures
are at the moment. the temperature guage on the van's ceiling says 39o F.
But it's sunny and the top of this spot with the marshy dip has remains of
vegetation holding the wet to it's toes, and it's in full sun. A perfect
place for courting. I let their crescendo wash over me, and I take every
"weeeeep" they have to give. It's wonderful, and one of the things I live
I put myself back in gear and shut off the blinkers and go back to my
errand, but I make mental note to start listening for deffinate Spring sign.
I will pick this thread back up to THIS week, where the peepers and the
fairy makings are building to an early pitch and fever.
Thank's for waiting this long. Winter's almost over and I have spring
madness like you wouldn't believe. until later.
madgardener up on the ridge, back in Fairy Holler overlooking English
Mountain in Eastern Tennessee