Maple seed in my pocket

maple seedYesterday I took a walk with my friend, Catherine. It was a beautiful day with a very slight breeze and as we walked under maple trees the breeze blew maple whirligigs out of the trees and all around us. One blew into the pocket of my t-shirt. I remarked on it but forgot about it until it fell out of my pocket as I changed for bed. I picked it up and examined it. The lines on its “wing” reminded me of tree branches.

More Columbine

columbineBob and Mary moved away from Hoover Street about 18 months ago. Before they moved Bob gave me some of his columbine. His yard was (and still is, although it is no longer his yard) over taken by this lovely delicate plant.

Parrot Tulip

tulipThis tulip always amazes me when it blooms each spring. It is so different from the others — more flamboyant. I always expect it to break into dance like a flamenco dancer. This spring a second parrot tulip joined this one. They are lovely.

Spider on the wall


This fellow has been hanging around my office lately — he/she was living in the shade of my desk lamp or possibly just resting there. I turned on the lamp and after a while he/she scurried out. I found him/her hanging out on the wall on the other side of the room recently. I like the fact that even a spider casts a shadow.

White Coral Bells

Lily of the valleyWhite coral bells
Upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the valley
Deck my garden walk
Oh, don’t you wish
That you could
Hear them ring.
That will happen only
When the fairies sing.

I remember my mom singing that song to me in a slightly off-key, reedy voice. It is a comforting memory and it plays on a loop in my head during Lily of the Valley season.

Solomon’s Seal

Solomon's SealBack in college I was lucky to have Mr. Steinbach for botany. He was a real character.  One time my friend and I were not paying attention in class. which was held in a medium- sized lecture hall.  Mr. Steinbach climbed up the tables until his head was level with ours. He said that we were having such an interesting conversation he didn’t want to miss out. Another time, while showing us a slide show of photographs of various types of tropical plants he displayed a close-up of a woman’s pubic area and told us we’d never forget that hibiscus preferred a moist and warm environment. He was right. I’ve never forgotten that. I also never liked hibiscuses much after that.

On field trips he would tremble with delight when he found certain kinds of flora — one of which was the trout lily. Another plant that I thank Mr. Steinbach for teaching me to identify is Solomon’s Seal. Not only can I identify it,  I can also distinguish it from False Solomon’s Seal. (which has flowers at the end of the stalk of leaves instead of dangling along the stem)

Dean’s sister, Debbie, was in my botany class and I idolized her from afar. She never knew who I was and by the time Dean and I met, she’d been killed in a car accident. At this time of year when my Solomon’s Seal is in bloom, I always think of Debbie, albeit in a round about way, through memories of Mr. Steinbach and botany class.

Fairies with dirty faces

Mud splattered fairyI’ve loved fairies ever since I can remember. It probably started with Mary Martin as Peter Pan urging me to clap if I believed in fairies so Tinkerbell would live. When I was in the 6th grade I convinced my brother that we had fairies living in our house. He claimed he could see one and named her Daisy. Mine was named Tinkerbell, but she was not Peter Pan’s fairy — but a descendant of that famous one. In the 6th grade I wrote a short story about fairies that was pretty good. I’ve since lost it, but I remember it had love, hope and joy and writing it made my heart swell. (Okay, maybe it was not so good — but it made me feel good).

My interest in fairies was rekindled when I first heard about the Cottingley Fairies and when we visited Yorkshire in 2002 we drove through the village of Cottingley but alas, saw no evidence of fairies.

It was not a surprise when my daughter developed an avid interest in fairies and declared her belief in them. We’ve planted two small “Fairy Gardens” from a kit (here’s one of them on YouTube), constructed numerous fairy houses outside various vacation homes and made plans to create a real fairy garden in our backyard. We dug up an old azalea and some vines, cleared an area and planted some flowers. We added a couple fairy statues and one of my garden gnomes and it looked pretty good for awhile. Then the flowers died because we didn’t really prepare the soil well and after a while the vines took over again. This year I plan on using only container plants — we’ve got horrible soil here and I’m too weak and lazy to dig down into the clay and mix it with whatever it needs.

The photo above kind of illustrates what we have now — more of a fairy mud hole instead of a fairy garden.