When I open my eyes each morning I see the hillside out my window and look to see if spring has come to the hollow. Especially this season I have looked, like the girl in the O. Henry story.
Our bare deer-browsed woods are always gaunt with the last chill of winter, a monochrome brocade of browns and grey. Each year I yearn for the return of spring colors when the tulip poplars feather the horizon with their brushstrokes of tender green and the redbuds and bluebells shimmer like watercolors.
The bluebirds flit about on the walnuts down by the old equipment shed (lots of walnuts here in the hollow); phoebes build their nests under the eaves. This year we have not swept them away to save the stucco or deter the black snakes.
This year I cannot bring myself to kill anything and I welcome the carpenter bees who love to colonize the old front porch as they sip the early viburnum (V. x ‘Eskimo’) and honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) flowers. I used to spray insecticide up into their holes and push in steel wool. Now I bow down and let nature take her course.
A happy consequence of no longer buying fresh greens from the store is a re-discovery of Susan Tyler Hitchcock’s wonderful Gather Ye Wild Things, University of Virginia Press, 1980, where she treats edible native plants (with recipes) in a lovely prose: “Where the redbuds bloom too high, beyond my reach, I console myself with violets.”
I wish I’d written that, but I console myself with foraging for violets and dandelions in our front yard, watercress from the little rill across the road, rubbing buds off the trunks of our redbuds and eating it all up for dinner.
For which we are truly grateful.