The beginning of May has alternated between work and distractions. We are in the midst of what may be our busiest time in retirement–our first planting season at our new home. We picked up a good-sized order of orchard trees, companion perennials, berries, asparagus, hazelnuts, seed potatoes and more on the last weekend in April at Fedco–our Maine source of all things growing (in the plant world). So we pushed hard to get our newly cleared land ready for planting.
But, every day, while I shoveled, planted, and watered, the utter exuberance of the life around me hit me upside the head. It was a distraction. But one that I didn’t fight.
I had my camera with me while planting, so when I heard the Towhee’s “drink your tea-eeeeee” in the sumac, I tried to get a photo as he hopped, maddeningly, deeper into the brush. I never got a good shot of the Towhee but then was distracted by the blooming maples. I spent a lot of time this past week just looking up and listening. Fortunately, in retirement, I have no deadlines and can indulge in these lovely distractions.
The bees may be my biggest distraction, requiring detours multiple times a day to linger and watch. I just can’t keep away from them. We checked on our queen four days after installing the package and the diligent little ladies had properly released her from her cage. They were building lovely waxy white comb and bringing in pollen, which generally indicates that the queen is laying.
Our trees have just barely started to leaf out and green up, so our woods remain austere and wintry looking. But the bees are bringing in fat legfuls of psychedelic orange pollen and a more subdued yellowish stash. I imagine the orange is from the maples. The yellow likely comes from dandelion, coltsfoot, birch and willow. I picked up our tree order on Arbor Day (a fact of which I was unaware at the time) and, that afternoon, planted three apples, two pears, two cherries, two peaches, two persimmons, and a giant medlar (no idea, really, what it is). The birds were out in full force. It’s mating season, after all, and the calling, squabbling, and acrobatics are at their peak.
So, I would dig a bit, pause a bit, watch a bit, take a picture or two, and then dig, plant and water some more.
The next day I planted blueberries, haskaps (honeyberries and new to me), an elderberry, a Carolina allspice, and made a nursery for some chestnut whips and my grafted apples (it looks like some of the grafts have taken). Once I was done, I wandered off in search of the white throated sparrow that had been mournfully singing first on one side, then on the other. I couldn’t spot the sparrow, but kept happily wandering, fully distracted by the buds and blooms in the exquisite afternoon light.
We spent Mother’s Day weekend in Connecticut visiting my mom and now are looking forward to a week of warmer, sunnier weather. Bring on the bloom.