The tree-trunks begin early April the same grey-brown as the bare granite. The carpet of autumn leaves has been bleached tan. Only the odd pine tree gives color along the horizon.
Then comes a faint pinkening. The first buds, contrary to Robert Frost's lovely poem, are scarlet.
The tone of grey morphs so subtly –– and so improbably –– into this first color of spring that it's quite possible to see it for half a lifetime before recognizing the hue.
I mean, really -- red?
A closer look provides the evidence. American elms splash out in red buds, delicious to the porcupine.
I know, blurry. Here's maybe a better image:
And in the beleaguered new apple orchard, after a winter spent as an hors d'oervers station for the local deer, the first tiny signs of vegetable life look like droplets of blood. Or maybe like those wee scarlet spiders that live in old leaves. Spider mites.
A pinhead speck of cardinal-red on the sticks of apple saplings, but not crawling. Tragically out-of-focus when I snapped their picture on the single afternoon when they first appeared. Overnight, they grew into what you expect in a bud:
Mr. Frost ends his lovely poem with "Nothing gold can stay."
I agree, except as I see it, it's nothing pink that can stay.
*April is not just "the cruellest month/breeding. Lilacs from dead ground" –– it's Poetry month.
Most of us were supposed to have learned this in high-school biology, but here's a quick review:
As a big fan of metaphor, I keep wrestling with a good way to describe the complicated mixing of genetics. Half an apple (father) plus half an orange (mamma) and each child is an apple-orange? Erm –– that does not clarify anything.
Maybe a soccer playoff? Two leagues, 46 teams, they have to fall out into half-teams and play the final while paired with an unfamiliar other half-team? Hmm. But what about the goalies? NO! Just nope! Sports metaphors, ratsa fratsa....
Or wait: what if you think of the mom as a margarita –– the good kind, with the top-shelf tequila, Grand Marnier, lime zest, fresh-squeezed Key lime juice, and sea-salt over ice. Which naturally makes the daddy an Old Fashioned, all muddled bitters and sugar, dark rye, a fat twist of orange peel with a maraschino cherry on top.
Unzip the spirals, mix, mingle and –– poof!
One kid turns out a mix of tequila, bitters and a maraschino cherry. Another is Grand Marnier and rye with orange and lime zest. A third child is a sour mix of lime and bitters and sea-salt. Another... you get the picture.
That's why you aren't exactly like your sibling (unless you're an identical twin), but instead seem like variants on a theme: Mumsie's near-sighted eyes and Daddo's thick, wavy hair paired with different jawlines and frames.
Go to a family reunion and the mixology can be actively unsettling: the shared blond curls, the cousin's toddler child who is a ringer for long-dead great-Gramp Earl, and the vision of your parent's feet at the end of someone else's legs.
Or maybe it's comforting, that ongoing flow of family genes. A river, maybe, even more than a mélange of mixed drinks.
Naturally, there's more to say about the genetic side of genealogy, but this is enough for now, I think.
Which brings me, sideways, to the word "anon." Anon can be short for "anonymous," but it's also an archaic adverb meaning "shortly." As in, I will write more about this anon. The etymology of the word (it strikes me that genealogy is the etymology of a person. Hmm.) gives it an Old English heritage. It meant "into one," which eventually referred to time, as in "at once."
I am distracted, it's inevitable, by thinking about how the Old English (700-1100 A.D.) visualized time differently that we do.
Until later. Anon.
There's a lot going on at the Would-Be Farm, but here's the highlights: the beaver lodge is still active, the mice had a mild-mannered winter at Basecamp, the deer went to TOWN on the newest apple trees, and the mule is still kicking. Details to come...
It's unfortunate that Winston Churchill, in the midst of fighting for the survival of freedom and decency during World War II, did NOT actually respond to a call to cut funding for the arts by asking, simply, "Then what are we fighting for?"
It would have been neat to have heritage for such a sharp rallying cry.
Thank you, NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts. Even though with only about 20% of your budget coming from the feds, I am happy that some of my taxes go to support this, not that.
And thank you, Lake Street Dives. Really enjoying this latest bit of what my mom would have called blue-eyed soul.
A river of words is usually in flood. And while I write about nearly everything, my blogging impulse is toward humor. This spot abounds with absurdities and piffle.
This week has thwarted me.
Not on a personal level, but at the world-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket level. I'm not ready to josh around with words today.
I have high hopes. The sun'll, as Annie would belt out, come out –– tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun... Mashed up, inevitably, with the melancholic fall "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge. Be as kind as you can be out there.
When I talk about the mule, it always gets the quizzical look.
The look that says, "Uh, wha––?"
We found ours used (from nice little old man who only drove it on weekends on red clay dirt in Georgia) and hauled it to the farm, where we instantly put it to work.
The mule hauls buckets of water from the pond, transports loads of junky hay to the compost heap, and conveys small boulders from their frost heave landing spots to the new rock projects. And at a pretty good clip, too!
The mule easily scrambles up over rocks and through muddy water, and it's made the long path from the road to the beaver-pond an easy –– if bumpy –– ride for visitors.
It sips on the gas, doesn't need its stall mucked out, and it works well for blazing new trails. No kicking so far. Yay mule.
About the Blog
A lot of ground gets covered on this blog -- from sailboat racing to book suggestions to plain old piffle.
Trying to keep track? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter or if you use an aggregator, click the RSS option below.
Old school? Sign up for the newsletter and I'll shoot you a short e-mail when there's something new.