Yes, it’s that time again. Winter is finally over, Ice Season is melting into slushy, gritty memories, and we’re moving into that other half of the year: Tick season.
Here in the Ozarks, tick season runs from about the first week in April through the end of December, with occasional outbreaks in January, February, and March. By mid-May roving hordes of the little monsters will be moving through the underbrush like piranhas with legs, armored specks of concentrated evil seeking whom they may devour.
We’re all becoming pretty current on the latest tick-borne diseases in humans, and the toll on pets is equally terrifying. Repellants, foggers and sprays fill the air like morning mist; gatherings of the beautiful people are aromatic with eau de permethrin, and the rest of us bathe in Deet as if were Chanel No. 5.
Years ago, while living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, my partner and I made the acquaintance of a gentleman who was considered throughout the neighborhood to be a gardener of some skill. When we finally received an invitation to venture past the ten-foot privacy fencing into his little slice of paradise, we jumped at the chance to see what a Florida garden was supposed to look like.
It has been pointed out to me that I seem to take a lot of pictures of flowers. Although there is no shortage of more active wildlife here in Winslow, I just don’t have the reflexes to get that perfect shot of a group of deer galloping away at thirty miles an hour, or a pileated woodpecker darting from tree to tree, or a fox or barred owl crossing my path an hour after sunset. So, yes, I photograph a lot of flowers. They don’t run away, they don’t bite, and they’re not likely to kick me in the head.
I’ve been staying away from politics in this blog — well, mostly — but I think there’s one political issue that hasn’t gotten enough discussion this election cycle: State Flowers.
No, I’m not making it up: State mushrooms: Minnesota: morel; Oregon: pacific golden chanterelle.
State muffins: Maryland: corn muffin; Minnesota: blueberry muffin; New York: apple muffin.
State bat: Virginia: Virginia Big-Eared Bat.
No, really, I mean it. If our elected officials feel that the selection of a State Mushroom, State Bat, and State Muffin is important enough to occupy their time and attention, then perhaps it should occupy a little bit of ours.
The wasps and spiders have begun gathering on my porch, a sure sign that winter is well and truly over.
The numbers this year are somewhat unimpressive: last spring there were hundreds of wasps from three different species gathering under the eaves, while this year I’ve seen only a few, all of them Red Paper Wasps.
I’ve started soaking Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus) seeds that I saved from last year’s garden, in preparation for planting in this year’s flower beds.
The seeds are hard and dry after a winter spent in a zip-lok bag in the crisper drawer of my refrigerator, and a day or two in warm water will increase the likelihood of germination. I’ve built a sort of bamboo trellis that will support the vines when they begin to grow; I still have to come up with a system to protect them from the neighbor’s chickens, who dig relentlessly in any disturbed soil, without much concern for what I may have planted there.