Sunday, May 24, 2015
Memory Day (Spring to Summer Flower Edition)
Nasturtium flowers are edible with a kind of peppery taste, and contain high amounts of vitamin C. We use them in salads from time to time.
They stayed pretty much on that side until recent years, then migrated to the front (also accompanying ferns) and now we have them in the back bordering the porch and near the small fruit trees (fernless however), as well as in the front under the picture window. They are strange and strangely beautiful white flowers on long stalks that can get quite tall. (The books say three feet, but several in the front this year were at least four feet.) I'm fascinated by their large leaves with their curves and folds. We seem to have the most callas in the vicinity. I don't know why. They are quite hardy and bloom for a lot of the year.
By contrast, I remember the flowers of my western Pennsylvania childhood as simpler: violets, daisies, profusions of dandelions considered weeds, the purple flowers I never knew the name of because they too were "weeds," flower beds of gladiolas and roses.
Here I watched a single wasp, and three bumble bees who are working the same territory but seemed to stay together at a respectful distance from the larger pollinator. I heard crickets, a fairly uncommon sound. The sight of a butterfly is rare, and the sight of more than one of any appreciable size is rarer still. In my childhood backyard and the adjoining field there were lots of bumble bees to watch and be wary of, and wasps and hornets were regular residents around the outside of the house. Lots of butterflies, large and patterned, all summer. Our neighborhood lore included the difference between Monarchs and butterflies that looked just like them. My favorites were the patterned butterflies in shades of blue. (On the other hand, there were an awful lot of houseflies.)
We've made things as bird friendly as possible here. I have a makeshift birdbath on an old picnic table and have watched birds splashing in it, though its been dry lately. I needed to find a smaller dish I can refill every day without drought guilt.
But the birds who visit us mostly chirp--songs are rare. There were a lot more songbirds in the east, particularly where I lived in Pittsburgh. There were also cardinals and goldfinches we don't have here at all. (On the other hand, I can watch hawks circling above the community forest almost any day.) In spring however we do get species of bird visitors we may never see the rest of the summer, or rarely. And in April on the HSU campus I saw a pair of stellar jays--large jays, blue feathers--and heard what sounded like a macaw, or some bird call I remembered only from movies set in jungles or swamps. That was weird.