Archives for June 2014

Sweetpea Sunday

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This meadow at the Carolina home place is chaotic, yet beautiful in its own way. Last week, the dewy blossoms of sweet peas and Queen Anne’s lace engaged me and several groups of early morning walkers.

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Unlike other fields on the property, this one gets mowed sporadically. Weedy thugs have taken over. I see an occasional butterfly weed or milkweed (unfortunate terminology since these are desirable natives and wonderful for pollinators). They struggle for a toehold and find it hard to compete with the more aggressive plants. My hope is that, someday, the field can be mowed regularly to keep weeds from going to seed. Then we can look at encouraging a transition to more native plants.

It’s hard to argue against sweet peas, though. They have such appealing blooms — and a nice name to boot!

Storm Center and the Tulip Poplar

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What tree?

When your house sits under a canopy of decades-old, 50′-100′ shade trees, you appreciate the benefits. You feel the drop in temperature when you leave the asphalt road and turn into the driveway. You note the ongoing parade of birds, squirrels, and insects scurrying up and down the furrowed trunks. It’s nature up close and always entertaining.

But there are downsides. It’s dark in the house. It’s hard to keep leaves and debris off the roof. The squirrels leap from tree to tree, then chew on cedar eaves when they get bored with running.

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Outside my window

And then there’s Storm Center, dispensing its warnings with increasing frequency and intensity. Approaching winds! Heavy rain! Take cover! Worry, worry.

Just this week, Storm Center scrolled its warnings across the television screen. I was busy sorting books — keep and give away –and didn’t notice. Besides, there was no wind, and the rain was steady and soft.

Then, things started to change. The trunk of the tulip magnolia/poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), growing six feet from the window, began moving from side to side. It gathered momentum, swaying in a widening circle. Alarmingly, the angle of the trunk changed from 90 degrees to nearly 70 degrees, leaning toward the house. I froze, expecting the worst. Then, as fast as the wind started, it stopped, and the tree righted itself.

The next day, news stations reported our area had seen the worst instance of circling heavy winds, damage, and uprooted tree in forty years. If our tree (one of a dozen close by) had gone down in this storm, so would’ve half our house.

In the ’70s, the homebuilders decided to keep most of the trees here, rather than cut them down to make their job easier. For that I’m grateful. But since the trees had previously grown in dense woods, reaching for the sun, most of them now have no branches on the lower 50 or so feet. The weight is all concentrated at the top of the trunk– okay for the forest, but not for inhabitants of the house.

Storm Center says there will be another Event today. I’m hoping for the best, staying away from the window until the tree specialist gets here to allay (or confirm) my fears.

Wordless Wednesday: Back in the Water

Going With the Flow

Going With the Flow