Sunday, April 16, 2017
Coming Out On The Other Side
We were in our early fifties when we moved to this wild land surrounded by several square miles of forest. Winter walks into the woods were common then. Treks on snowshoes were enjoyable adventures. Sledding down steep slopes occasionally included piercing screams. A hand powered snow pusher cleared the one quarter of a mile long driveway for most storms. Winter was just another season to be enjoyed. Now joints ache in response to short periods of time outdoors. Fingers and toes turn scary white in response to cold air. Much of the fun has gone out of winter so early flowers are a welcome treat and bring with them the promise of more to come.
This patch of transplanted from the wild arbutus plants is my pride and joy. Four tiny plants have been joined by a fifth from seed plant to form this sizable display. We knew nothing about these plants being either male or female with gender identification easily made if you know where to look in the open flowers. Three male plants and one female are what we have here. The plant from seed has disappeared blending in with the others. Its gender remains unknown. Our lone female has been reluctant to flower and seeds were seen here for the first time just last year.
Two days ago we found a single open flower here. Recent hot dry days have pushed more buds to open. These plants could be seen as little more than a rather insignificant ground cover with tiny white or pink flowers. When the nose is brought close to an open flower, the plant's appeal is quickly understood. We have two other patches of arbutus nearby. When I left these plants to check on the others, Becky was pressed flat to the ground with her nose close to these open flowers. When I returned several minutes later she was still drawing in their unbelievably sweet aroma.
These plants were also taken from the wild and planted behind the stone arbutus wall. Three plants of each gender were placed here so that fertilization is easily accomplished. This site is more favorable for arbutus growth as can be seen by the number of flower buds in each cluster. Many of these flowers tend to be pink. The eye sees the pink coloration but the camera fails to accurately record it.
The scent of the arbutus now exists in competition with the overpowering smell of the lagoon cow manure that is presently being sprayed on nearby fields. Tractor trailer loads of this black gold are taken to the fields all day long at this time of year. Its sharp smell is simply overpowering. We are fortunate in that the location of the fields and the direction of the winds tend to soften our exposure to this unpleasantness. We have elderly neighbors whose house is located just past the end of a huge stinky field. Cut arbutus flowers brought inside might help them but I simply cannot bring myself cut these precious flowers.