Tuesday, April 30, 2013

May Day, May Day

    It is hard to believe that, within a few days time, my garden will be in full steam ahead mode.  Spring starts slowly in these parts, unfolding its new leaves over two months, beginning in mid-March.  Finally, the first week in May, all heaven breaks loose and it is as though the green had never left us.  

  Unfortunately for some, including me, all hell also breaks loose!  May signals the beginning of a month of sneezing, sniffling, watery eyes etc.  Allergies!   

  Mine arrive when the rhododendrons open although  I suspect the culprit is not those lovely flowers but the grasses and weeds that are flowering  at the same time.

May Garden©Barbara Kaufmann2012

  Here's how I manage:

*  I usually use a prescription nasal spray instead of oral antihistamines which send me into La-La Land. 

* I NEVER mow the lawn. Lucky for me, my best friend isn't allergic and he LOVES to mow the lawn!

* I take the herb Nettles every day (all year)

* I remove my gardening clothes and take a shower and wash my hair as soon as possible when I am finished for the day, to remove any pollen from my body.

* When all else fails I take an antihistamine for relief or stay indoors near a window where I can look at the garden.

  I have noticed that my allergies are less and less severe as the years go by.  Not sure why but I'm very thankful for it.

Happy May Day!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April WAS National Poetry Month

   I've a confession to make.  I have been neglecting my blog of late, but not my writing.  In the past six months or so I have become more and more interested in poetry.  And since April is National Poetry Month, I have been squirreled away in my poetry cave scribbling verse.  It has become a minor obsession and I can't curb my appetite for it.

  I have fallen in love with the Japanese poetic forms of haiku, senyru and haiga and am now in the habit of writing several every day.  I especially enjoy composing and producing the haiga, using my photographs whenever they suit the poem.

  I have discovered that this type of writing is a very relaxing and contemplative exercise for me.  It forces me to  carefully notice my surroundings and to use language to try to convey a feeling without mentioning the feeling.  I am also taken with the potential for writing a multi-layered poem with several meanings within the narrow parameters of haiku.

  Along the way, I have discovered a number of poets with blogs who post haiku and other poetry on a daily basis.  Many of my favorites are listed on my blog roll to the right of my page under the title 'Feeding the Poet' Check them out!

  Haiku is not for everyone though, as a few people have mentioned to me, privately when I posted it here in the past.   So I am in the process of deciding whether or not to post my work here or perhaps find it a home elsewhere. What say you readers?

  Here is a haiga I created after spending quite some time early this morning trying to get a perfect photo that would show just how gloriously beautiful my weeping cherry is.  It has been in bloom for about a week now and the color has changed from  its original baby pink to a luminous silver.  If the rain holds off for a while, the blossoms will last and eventually become snow white, at which time they will shower us with a spring snow storm.

©Barbara Kaufmann

  I saw the bee but did not capture it in the photo.  And  I'm not sure whether the poem refers to the bee or the poet being intoxicated by the beauty of the blossoms! 

 So here's a short list of what poetry means to me in terms of my health and well-being. 
---- It lowers stress because of the meditative state I find myself in. 

---- It encourages me to exercise since much of my motivation comes from nature.  

----It is very spiritual and contemplative and I often write about God's creation.  

----It challenges me to continue to use my intelligence, my language and my senses. 

---- It can be combined with my other passion, photography, for some interesting effects. 

----I love it.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Sunny Flicker

a northern flicker
grabs a piece of sunlight
on take-off

The flicker has not visited my feeders all winter for some reason but he came yesterday, to announce the return of the sun to my heart!  For anyone who has never seen one of these birds, they are magnificent, with markings on the back,  chest and neck , a perky red hat and, best of all, upon take-off,  they reveal a golden color on their wings which is not visible unless they are in flight!

I did not get a photo of the flicker yesterday but they have visited my feeders and my yard in years past, and these photos were taken then.

Flickers are attracted to the suet feeders in the winter especially and that is often when I can grab a photo.

The underside of the bird's tail and wings is a wonderful golden color, seen peeking out in the above photo. It is only when they are airborne that one gets to see how stunning the color is.

I am not very skilled at photographing birds in flight, nor do I have the proper equipment for that kind of photography.  In the above photo, I was able to catch the flicker as he departed the feeder with his fill of suet. (He's in the upper left corner of the photo.)  

Here is a link to a wonderful photo displayed on Flickr (appropriately enough) showing the bird in flight.

  Shared with Recuerda Mi Corazon 'Haiku My Heart'

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Garden Start-Up

   Winter lingered a bit longer this year, making up for the 3 extra weeks of spring we had last year, I guess.  But I have been very busy getting ready for my garden.  I picked up some new seeds at the flower show and spent a lovely afternoon "playing in the dirt" as my long-suffering mate calls it.  (I am not the neatest gardener)  

  My seed packets are mostly flowers, a few annual herbs, a few tomato  and pepper plants.  Because we planted such an extensive flower and shrub garden, and we belong to a vegetable and fruit CSA, AND most important,  because we don't have a large area that gets sun all day, our vegetable garden consists of a tomato plant or two,  several pepper plants and a lovely teepee of green bean vines.

 Herbs will tolerate some shade and I experiment with various annual flowers each season  to see what works well in my yard.  My favorite flowers are the ones that attract the butterflies and the hummingbirds. 

  This year I started cayenne peppers, an heirloom variety of plum tomato called 'San Marzano,' Genoese Basil and I'm trying some Sweet Cecily from seed I collected a year ago.

  The butterflies and hummingbirds are going to enjoy zinnias, cosmos and a rare variety of morning glory called 'Split Personality.'  They are a lovely shade of red and white and are attractive to the hummingbirds!

   The rest of my annuals will be direct sown later when the ground warms up sufficiently.  Those include cilantro, lettuce, arugula, the green beans and calendula.

    After spending many hours pouring over the garden catalogues this past winter, we decided to add a few roses to our front yard.  We have no flowers to speak of in the front of the house and have a sunny corner along the property line.

 There are so many things to choose from, it took us all winter to decide but we chose a  red  'Double Knockout ' Rose to fill the spot.  We've been admiring this rose for several years now.   It blooms profusely and, in our area, the bloom season extends into December! Very disease resistant, long bloom time and a gorgeous color, what more could we ask for?   Pictures to follow, once they bloom!

Take-Away for Today:  April is here!  Time to put on those gardening gloves and get to work!



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