"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

April 14, 2017

Under the Lilacs

Today I was a wee bit wistful  because already the lilacs are fading, having bloomed early this year after a very warm winter, and a very warm spring. We brought some inside and I made certain to admire and sniff them whenever possible outdoors, too.

Later in the afternoon when the sun has gone behind the shed, some of the cats have been lying like lions in the part of the yard where we planted several lilacs about eight years ago. Slow growers, you know you have a prized specimen when it is large and full and high–likely even 100 years old or more. Our newer bushes have the fullest blooms they've had yet and are now almost as tall as I am (which isn't a huge stretch!). Sadly, an older lilac in front of the house on the bank that goes down to the road has died out completely. Not sure why as you don't really have to do much with lilacs to keep them happy. But I hate to see an old plant fade.

One nostalgic reminder of old cellar holes in New England is that you often come upon vast, towering lilac bushes in the woods near the edge of a field or by an old roadside. We had one such place near our New Hampshire farm. Sherwin Hill had been an old hill farm settlement about a half mile from our farm with several farmsteads that were abandoned at some point in the nineteenth century. The land is protected, the fields are still mowed, and the old road passes by the cellar holes belied by ancient lilacs and patches of day lilies. Behind our nineteenth-century barn at the farm there was a magnificent, huge white lilac (I haven't seen one since) which had been planted there easily a century or more ago (and it's one of those things I wish I had a photograph of–but that was well before digital when I didn't shoot everything I saw!). Here in Kentucky an old house site is often found by the amount of daffodils nearby. [Seems I've waxed on about lilacs before over at my old blog at InthePantry.blogspot.com.]

At the doublewide, which we're selling soon (we have an offer), there is an older bush that was probably put there by the Dicks. They had a dog-trot house on the same site as where the doublewide was placed. I picked some from there, which are more lush, for the last time. There are some peony clumps that I will leave but I do want to dig up some of the applemint around the birdhouse that I brought down from New Hampshire. It is the grandchild of my grandparents' mint patch at Gray Goose Farm–which must have been dug out at some point as I don't remember it. Ann Sawyer, a neighboring farm wife and a great friend of my family, along with her husband Peter, gave me a clump from which my grandfather had originally given to her. Another friend has some Gray Goose Farm rhubarb, which doesn't do so well here, but I think I've found the right spot for it so I may beg for a clump next time I'm back in New England.

Spring has become one of my favorite times of year here–not only with its length (an actual three months) but with all of the wild flowers that emerge in stages. Blood root comes first (around the time that the morel mushrooms poke through the forest floor), then violets by the road side where the grass is shorter, then miniature iris on rocky and sandy banks, and trillium and Jack-in-the-Pulpit, and so many others. By the end of April the pageant of spring wildflowers is fairly much through.

It is Good Friday today. Have a blessed Easter or Passover–or just enjoy your weekend–everyone!

You come back when you're ready!



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