Everything’s coming up tulips

(Whenever he’s in baseball mode, he looks like a happy kid)

After that last whine, the only sensible thing was to fix as much as possible and leave the State. We did stay long enough to go to the Half Century League baseball banquet. It’s hard for me to know how people can talk about nothing but baseball but that’s what they do, endlessly re-living home runs, injuries, won and lost games, bad plays that someone else made. Still, it was fun, mostly because Rich just loves playing baseball with these guys and it’s good to see him so happy. He was so happy he almost cried when they surprised him with the biggest trophy of the evening: the Sportsmanship Award. He gets to have the trophy on our mantel for a year and then it gets passed on but he has a little one, also with his name engraved on it, that he gets to keep. Rich really is a good sport about just about everything and I know that is especially true on the baseball field. I watched his team play the Pennsylvania Amish All-Stars a couple of months ago and as he’s the catcher he made it a point to welcome everyone personally as they came up to bat and wished them all a good game. He’s the kind of guy you want on your team.

The next morning I couldn’t get in the car fast enough to drive north and at the Florida/Georgia border, when the car told me it was 96 degrees outside, I felt like I was fleeing that unbearable heat and humidity. We do love our neighbors there and I miss them terribly and I love my felt classes and the birds at Boyd Hill but that harsh sun is just too hard on this pale complexion. Also I have discovered that I really crave, need, long for Spring and autumn. Without living with the clear demarcation of seasons I’m just not right. We drove as a caravan and I got the best of that deal; Rich was missing the Masters and I’m fairly certain he would have found a sports bar and stopped to watch if not for McCloud who was fussing and panting. Sophie settled down right in my lap and spent all but the last 18 miles there. She’s a great driver, tensing and relaxing in tune with the traffic and digging her claws into my thigh if I go above 79 mph or change lanes too quickly. Mostly she purrs, bathes and naps. We exit hwy 26 at Mountain Home. I kid you not, that’s the name of our exit and at that point Sophie is up, on high alert and at the windows. She goes to whichever window is in the direction of the house so for 18 miles there is a lot of dashing back and forth across the front seat. Watching her is like tuning in to a little satellite or GPS system and I don’t wonder a bit at tales of animals finding their way home across vast distances.

Here, it is beautiful. Sunny mild afternoons and cool nights. We are seeing this home for the first time in Spring and it is more beautiful than I had hoped or imagined. The mountains are all shades of light and brilliant greens with the mountain tops still bare in places. At the foot of our long drive there are a dozen mature white dogwoods in full bloom and all around the house there are pink and red dogwood, azaleas and all manner of bulbs. Clearly, a lot of the daffodils that have lived in the woods for years had already come and gone but all of the 1000 bulbs I planted last fall are up and in various stages of bloom. (okay. The 1000 bulbs Rosario planted last fall)  The daylilies that were given as a gift from a stranger mid-summer last year have emerged strong and thick and I’m excited to see them flower.

The first day back I went with friends over to Madison County for a book club meeting. Talk about Appalachian Spring! Many of the houses look as old as the hills and show generations of character, with silvered wood and mud for grout between the logs. It’s hard to know how things like the economy affect people who have been living, literally off of and with the land for their entire lives.

The second day back I was giddy at the prospect of putting leafy greens in the garden, perhaps a bit too giddy because I wrenched my ankle flat sideways in the mud and heard a dreadful noise. My first thought was that I had cracked the same ankle I broke 24 years ago but after a couple of minutes of gasping and deep breathing I decided that it was the sound of ligaments giving way rather than a break. I did exactly as the doctor would have ordered, if I’d gone to a doctor- iced it and bound it and kept it up. It was miserable for about 48 hours, both because I couldn’t be up and down the hill, plus it hurt like the dickens but it is much better now, on day four. Still colorful, still braced but mending.

The bears are here- we see evidence of them in our woods and the neighbors report that their feeders are being raided and destroyed. We have ours filled and it is covered all day long with all manner of birds but we take it down at dusk. I had just downloaded iBird Pro in anticipation of the trip to the New River Birding Festival the first of May and now I find myself ticking off bird after bird right here at home. Sophie is not so fond of the audio feature on the application, especially when I try out raptor calls.The hummingbirds are back and all the feeder birds are busy nest building. (A good use for odds and ends of wool and silk. I stuff them in empty produce bags and hang them from the trees. They are a big hit right now; sometimes there is a bit of a set-to over who will get the scrap of sari silk. Luxury living for baby birds, yes?)

All day long they are flitting about with construction materials; the goofy Carolina Wrens have built a nest in the eave near the downspout where I fear it will wash out with the next hard rain. I put up this little felt house this afternoon and within an hour the chickadees started flitting in and out. I’m fairly cautious at the moment and not quick enough to snatch the camera and focus fast so I’ve been missing some great shots. Yesterday in the late afternoon a very playful red fox was in the yard pouncing on things- bugs?- and then chewing them up. (S)he took time to roll around and at one point made a great leap at a butterfly. The shots I did get were pretty blurry. I was hoping the fox would be back today but I got busy hammering a project together so that was a deterrent I think.(Our lawn would be good as a  “before” shot for a Chemlawn advertisement. With the acreage we are content to let the meadow portion run to violets and dandelions and grubs for this lovely (blurry) creature.)

So, we are happy and the cats are happy and it’s both peaceful and humming with life here at the mountain house.

13 responses to “Everything’s coming up tulips

  1. Beth Ann Choate

    My heart bleeds with envy at the beauty that surrounds you and you sound like you are more peaceful in the mountains than in Florida. Does Rich have any older brothers, he sure is a keeper.

  2. Beth, Rich is the baby of 4 boys, in 4 years. The older three are all taken and as swell as they all are, I’m pretty sure I got the luck of the draw. 😉

  3. You have red dogwoods! And tulips! And foxes! Can I come live with you?

    No wonder you are anxious to return to your mountain home–I would be sitting on the deck all day just absorbing the beauty and watching all the critters and birds. As we travel north and east from Texas, I start to realize how important spring is for me, so I’m going to have to figure that into our decision of where Denny and I will finally settle.

  4. Wow what a great homecoming. I am so glad you are there, I experience a vicarious pleasure watching life in your Mountain Home. Those flowers and that fox! And this is just the beginning of the season. I can’t wait to see what blooms or comes by next!

  5. I envy the dogwood. We have a lot of them here, but I’ve been told that it is hard on them, especially new plantings… the salt and the swampy black clay. I have an eye out for tulip poplar (for the tiger swallowtails) and a black gum tree (Nyssa sylvatica…. you can guess the reason for this one). I think I saw the first Monarch yesterday and the tiger swallowtail butterflies are definitely here. After one of the black swallowtails emerged too soon from the six chrysalides that have overwintered in the sunroom.. I covered the enclosure with a dark towel. Now our last frost has passed and a few of the nectar flowers are beginning to bloom… and the fennel is well on its way to take on the eggs.. so any day now at least a few of the others will emerge I hope.

    As for tulips….. I again planted too late. They came up… and lo and behold, I have flowers.. but they look like they are from the Wizard of Oz.. Munchkinland to be precise… blooms are almost on the ground.. as if the stems forgot to grow. My favorite things to watch at this time are those plants in the shade garden area… specifically the fern… pushing through the brown mulch with those little curled fronds…. I have got to get out there and dig… must dig…. need to feel the dirt.

    Sorry to hear about your ankle. Mom fell on Wednesday afternoon… this time she fell like a tree and for some reason neglected to even try to protect her head with her arms. She hit the hardwood floor (grateful it wasn’t concrete slab underflooring) with her chin and big lacerations, puddles of blood, 911 calls, another 7 hours in emergency room, CT scans, stitches, no teeth lost but alas, fractured jaw… right at the condyle in area of TMJ. So, more re-arranging of doctor appointments, infusions and … well, I suggest that everyone finds an oral and maxillofacial surgeon that accepts Medicare and/or insurance before they need one.. she sees him this afternoon and I have no idea if there will be jaw wiring or what. We are already balancing a diabetic diet with a gout diet (diametrically opposed of course) and now add on a liquid/soft mush diet… well, my ideas are rapidly running out. Poor thing… she looks as if she was beaten up in a street brawl. Nyssa saw her picture and wanted to know what the other guys she tangled with looked like… at least that made her chuckle. (Grand-daughters can get away with those sort of comments.)

    This comment sort of got out of hand… but, I promised not to post her picture and I haven’t plucked up the courage to tell Stephen about this latest fall… he is the A+++++ personality of the family. I could use a large and long dose of mountain living right now… but am grateful you can enjoy it for me and we can all enjoy it through your pictures.

    Is it strange to have tulip stem envy?

  6. Well, darn. Sorry about that. Your tulips are gorgeous, and so is that fox. How nice to see them play. Welcome back to your mountain home!! Enjoy it all.

  7. So, Rich a trophy husband?
    Do real men avoid eating quiche?
    Your loving words on his talents and gifts
    Divulge a true potiche.

    Foxes are cat-like dogs;
    Raccoons are dog-like cats.
    Are you trying to hint that someday soon
    You’ll be making coonskin hats?

    Tulips are violety-orange;
    And some are purplish-blue.
    As I sip on dandelion-nettle tea,
    I’ll think lovingly of you.


  8. Sigh. I want to be there. If I get fired next week, which I might, I will be headed your way immediately. Silver lining.

  9. It’s like paradise there, seriously. I WANT IT.

    As for Rich, well, I have a little crush on him after hearing about his sportsmanship award. I get peevish about the way some pro athletes behave.

    Let that ankle heal up good, Missy. I’m none too pleased about that little tale.

  10. Well, all of that is beautiful.
    I know you are loving it. Congrats to Rich!

    Rest that ankle, give it time.

    I made some KungPao last week with a couple of the scotch bonnets you sent me. They gave the dish a nice heat and gave me a thrill when I carelessly chewed up one of them in a mouthful of KPao.

  11. Ah, Vicki, I envy you New River. Even more so because it would have been fun to be there at the same time you were. You’ll have a blast.

    You did get the better cat deal for the trip. I can’t imagine living more than one place, but I ve never had a cat that liked to travel. Major sedatives all round …

    Gad, so much to say in one tiny little box. Come to Michigan and visit instead …

  12. Pingback: Upcoming projects and their pretty pretty yarn « By Hook or By Crook

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