Saturday, April 10, 2010

April Update

Hello, and apologies for the hiatus! Although I’ve been writing this blog for over a year, I still haven’t quite figured out how to keep chuggin’ away on the posting even when I go out of town on a vacation.

I was out of town during the last week of March, but see, I didn’t want to let the whole “interverse” know that our house would be empty, so I wrote material in advance. Then I cleverly posted it here and there from the hotels. Pretty smart, huh?

But although I thought ahead that far, I didn’t anticipate the usual mountain of stuff to do once we got home—and I’d run out of my backlog of writings—so there it is: a whole week since my last post. I do usually try to post every few days, or at a bare minimum, once a week.

Plus, I try to keep my blog fairly upbeat, and this past week I haven't felt upbeat at all. A lot of reasons that I won't go into here.

So . . . sorry. I hope I haven’t lost too many of my readers.

By the way, we did have a fun vacation, and we really needed to “get away” for a while. Check it out:

This past week has been heavy with work and correspondence, appointments, laundry, taking care of yard stuff (cutting grass, for example!), and dealing with our three needy cats, who apparently almost died of loneliness without us. You would think. And more.

Meanwhile, April is arguably the sweetest month of the year, here in Central Missouri—birds sing strongly every morning, the tree leaves are coming out, the grass is green and juicy, and the tender spring wildflowers are blooming. We have bloodroot, three or four kinds of violets, Dutchman’s breeches, toothwort, wild strawberries, trillium, star of Bethlehem, and spring beauties blooming here in our yard and flowerbeds.

We also have plenty of the weedy mints henbit, dead nettle, and creeping Charlie, which vex us somewhat but whose lush greenery and tiny, voluptuous purple flowers are still a pleasure to see, considering the dry dead twigs of winter.

I always associate April with the colors green and purple—green for all the new spring foliage, and purple for the preponderance of purple- and pink-flowering plants.

The daffodils have come and gone by now, with jonquils and tulips in full force at present. The “rock peach” tree is in bloom and is slightly post-peak, dropping pink petals into the bird bath.

And the redbud trees are all in full bloom—they light up these Missouri landscapes like neon, contrasting sharply with the chartreuse new growth on the deciduous trees, and with the deep velvety olive of the red cedars. I love that look on the highway.

The only “down” side to this month is that the trees are starting to bloom, and that always activates my allergies. My pollen problems are associated with trees and the grasses that follow, so I start taking Claritin before the trees begin. It works for me about 85 percent during these few months—but there are still times when my eyes say, “no way: we’ve had enough pollen.” On a late afternoon of a long, windy day, for instance. But then eye drops help.

It is sad that this gorgeous month—when it’s truly fine weather and we want to throw all the windows open—is the first big pollen month, which makes me want to hermetically seal the house, as if it were winter again. If you don’t suffer from pollen allergies, you won’t understand, but that’s how it really is, as perverse as it seems.

We went to Vintage Hill nursery today and picked up our first batch of herb plants. I always plant an herb garden—I can’t see paying money for parsley, mint, and such at the supermarket when it’s so easy and incredibly inexpensive to grow your own, and you can just nip off what you need.

I have a lovely spot for herbs, just at the bottom of our back porch steps, a place that my Grandma always seemed to devote to herbs as well. The soil is excellent, the light moderate, and the location is handy to the kitchen.

This afternoon, then, I got my fingers back into the soil and planted my new little charges: Curly and flatleaf parsley, dill (am I crazy to plant that? will it take over?), some thyme plants, variegated sage, cilantro, red-veined sorrel, and some pretty purple kale plants, which function as an ornamental but can also be used for garnishes or in a stir-fry.

At this point it doesn't look like much; I haven't even mulched it yet. But it will look much better next month.

The new plants joined existing stuff that overwinters or reseeds—the garlic and regular chives, a sage plant that survived winter, my beloved clump of grapefruit mint that’s followed me through three moves, and some peppermint, which I relocated to one end of the garden. The shiso comes up from billions of seeds and can be weedy, almost aggressive, but it’s easy enough to pull up in our loose soil.

Still to come are the basil plants, because you can’t have yer basic pesto without basil, and rosemary. Both of these seem to be more sensitive to the cool evenings we are still likely to have for another few weeks.

All in all, it’s a good month to be alive, here in Central Missouri.


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