My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Signs of spring

I realize that in many parts of the country (and rest of the northern hemisphere), it seems late for a "signs of spring" post, even though official summer is still a couple of weeks away. But around these parts, it still looks and feels very much like spring, even early spring - still raining (a lot!), often still cold (low 30's yesterday morning and our pellet stove ran during the day), and only recently leafing and blooming. For the past two weeks I've been taking photos of the local flowering activity and wanted to share some of the better ones with you before starting on my Colorado posts next week.

BW and I recently spent two busy and rather back-breaking, wrist-straining days cleaning out and weeding our front flowerbed, putting down new weed fabric, and then shoveling and raking 2 tons of washed gravel on it before redecorating it with some new stained glass solar lights, our turtle statuary, interesting wood pieces collected on hikes, some pretty rocks and a few other goodies not pictured here. I guess the daffodils, jonquils and tulips appreciated our efforts, because they bloomed just a few days later (despite the beatings they'd taken from snow, ice and wind while still in their bud stage)...

The jonquils were planted by a previous owner over two decades ago, but the daffodils and tulips were our doing. On a trip to The Netherlands in 1998, we visited breathtaking Keukenhof. Inspired by all the gorgeous flowers in Keukenhof's stunning setting, we stopped at one of their strategically placed kiosks where you can order bulbs that are shipped to you when it's the best time to plant them. Like most visitors to Keukenhof, we had heady and completely unrealistic visions of recreating their colorful gardens at home, a phenomenon the Keukenhof people clearly anticipate and understandably exploit. :-)

We've moved the bulbs a time or two, and may just dig a few of them up to take with us to our next house when the time comes since there are such fond memories attached to selecting them. The front flowerbed is a very challenging one for plants, since it gets almost no sun until the hottest part of the day and gets blasted by all the weather from the north and west. Native plants like the Three-Leaf Sumac and chokecherry, which have literally planted themselves there, do well, but we're proud of our intrepid little imported Dutch flowers!

I shared a couple of photos of some of Sheridan's flowering trees in a previous post, but here are several more...

Lacy, flowering apple trees on the library lawn
(BW at 6' tall provides a sense of scale!) :-)

I'm not sure if these are plum trees or young crabapples,
located behind Whitney Commons across from the library.
(That's one of my favorite houses in Sheridan beside them!)

Here are some more gorgeous blooming crabapples, all located across the street from each other. They've faded now, so I'm glad I captured them at the peak of their eye-popping color (just wish I could have captured their beautiful scent, too!)...

Crabapples on Big Horn Avenue

I love the comely shape of this one, as well as the color

The crabapples may be past their prime but the lilacs have just reached theirs, and after all the rain we've had they are the most abundant and beautiful we've ever seen. I could fill several posts with pictures of the prettiest lilacs in town, but neither my schedule nor the weather have cooperated for photography yet so I've only taken a few so far...

These lilacs, still a week away from their blooming peak,
were still lovely, as is the Victorian house behind them.
(Taken on West Loucks St)

I took these next two photos just yesterday, in another of Sheridan's historic Victorian neighborhoods, "Residence Hill." These old lilacs sit on two corners of the same lawn, at the entrance to the Linden Stairs ~ a long, steep set of wooden stairs that climb up to Residence Hill from a neighborhood below. (I took this photo of BW and the view from the top of the Linden Stairs yesterday, but the stairs are most impressive when viewed from below; a photo I'll attempt to get tomorrow)...

The neighborhood was perfumed with the scent of lilacs.

Not a perfect specimen,
but its color more than makes up for it!

I took this one the day after publishing this post and can't resist squeezing it in. It's a huge old lilac on South Main Street just one house over from the courthouse. I wish more of the house showed, because it's a cool old turreted house that has always looked to us like it should be a bed & breakfast, but isn't. But when I took photos from the angle that showed more of the house, that tree to the left blocked most of the lilac ~ and afterall, this post is called signs of spring, not examples of architecture. ;-) ...

I took this one on the opposite part of town on June 1st, a good week before the height of lilac blooming season! This lilac is obviously an early bloomer who lives in a good spot...

Seriously, don't you wish these were scratch & sniff photos?

In non-flowering news, we're still trying to get back in the swing of things after getting home from Fort Collins Tuesday night, and trying to get a few more projects done during the final days of BW's vacation. On the house-selling front, nothing's happening. No showings for the past few weeks, so on the advice of our realtor and our own common sense, we're lowering our price since the housing market has deteriorated since our market analysis in early April. Hopefully our new Hurry won't last, low, low unbeatable price! will generate some showings and an offer (or two or three!), and help justify all the work we keep doing! Undaunted by the discouraging lack of showings, we've started looking at potential homes to buy. We looked at one in the beautiful Residence Hill neighborhood yesterday (which is how I got those particular lilac photos), just a hop-skip from the top of the Linden Stairs. It was a small, charming home built in 1940. A lot of lovely improvements had been made to it, but plenty more $tuff wa$ $till needed and we'd pretty much ruled it out when, just hours after we'd seen it, someone else made an offer on it. We're going to be looking at another house tomorrow, one that's under construction and nearing completion that we've had our eye on for a few months. It's on BW's route, so he's watched it being built and we've walked through it a few times already by ourselves. Their sheetrock guy always invites us in when he sees our noses pressed to the window. :-)

Anyway, we need to clean house, do laundry, run errands, dodge rainstorms to mow the lawn that went from park-like, freshly-mowed-and-trimmed to unruly jungle while we were gone, plant flowers in pots and squash in the garden, and hopefully refresh our memories on how to run the house-showing drill again soon. But between all those activities I plan to do several posts on our Colorado mini-vacation, because it was a perfect little vacation and I took lots of pictures! :-)

So until then, I hope you're enjoying what passes for spring in your neck of the woods (something other than flooding, fires, tornadoes, snow, heat waves or any other calamities!)


  1. I would want to dig up those Dutch bulbs and take them with me when the house sold...for sentimental value...also I'd be afraid that the new people wouldn't take care of them or might pull them out or something...will you take the turtles with you too?

    The trees are absolutely lovely! Lilacs, even the less then perfect ones are romantic and voluptuous. And I do wish is was a scratch and sniff blog because the smell of lilac and apple blossoms on the air is pure ambrosia. Most trees have already blossomed out around here and the lovely sweet spring smell has faded into mown grass and briquets wafting on the breeze.

    Can't wait to see what you got up to in Fort Collins! Good luck with the house...what kind of squash are you planting?

  2. I can practically smell the crabapple trees and lilacs! They're all so gorgeous. We definitely have been having similar weather. It's so frustrating!

    I'm really looking forward to your Colorado posts & I'm very, very jealous that you got to take a trip there. I know it's a pretty short trip for you to go there, but still. I have major wanderlust!

    I hope all picks up with the showings now that you've lowered your price. It's such a nerve wracking thing to go through.

  3. Laloofah -- lilacs are absolutely wonderful in your photos. They do scent the air for quite a distance. You and your husband are hard workers. It will be nice to get away and relax. -- barbara

  4. Rose ~ I'm seriously considering taking some of those bulbs with us, but it may not be practical. We'll see! Maybe we'll just have to go back to Keukenhof and order more. ;-) The turtle (there's just the one, along with a cute, sort of matching frog planter that's off the patio in back) will definitely come with us, along with our other yard/garden ornamentation. I'm looking forward to decorating a new yard and/or garden with them.

    "Romantic and voluptuous" describes lilacs perfectly! They've always seemed like such old-fashioned (in a good way!) flowers. My grandmother adored them, and for whatever reason always pronounced them to sound like "lie-locks." :-) The apple blossoms (crabby and otherwise!) have definitely faded out, but the lilacs are at their peak, and the mountain ash are blooming beautifully too, though they're not nearly as showy. We definitely got a nose-full of the scent of new-mown grass yesterday (one of my favorite scents), as we and I believe everyone else in Sheridan County took advantage of a sunny day at last to mow their hayfields... I mean yards! :-)

    I'm still working on my trip photos whenever I have a few minutes, but it's just been too busy around here to make much progress. I should have a post or two ready by next week, though - I hope! I'm eager to share my photos! Vacation posts are fun to work on and publish.

    Our garden needs to dry out some more, but in another week or two we plan to plant zucchini and delicata squash. That's all we'll be planting this year, and frankly I hope that new people will get to enjoy the harvest! ;-)

  5. Molly ~ I know what you mean about the frustrating weather. It's been one crazy-ass spring everywhere!

    I can't wait to share my Colorado posts with you, there is one in particular I know you're going to love! :-) It was a very short trip, but that's okay. We had plenty to do when we got home, I can't imagine having been gone longer! We missed a tornado Monday night while we were gone - no damage to our property thank goodness, but it blew all of the nectar out of our hummingbird feeder (which I'd filled prior to leaving, of course - three cups' worth!) that hangs from a shepherd's hook just outside our dog run fence, and sprayed it all over the siding, windows and deck on the back of the house! Robyn said it was terribly scary, the wind came up out of nowhere and swirled and blew so violently it she thought it was a tornado. And she was right! We stopped by the boarding facility to pay Mocha's monthly bill and Audra told us that there HAD been a tornado, and it touched down there at the facility and demolished all of their metal shelter sheds! We saw them there, twisted, mangled, one blown several yards away - it was boggling. Amazingly and fortunately, no horses or burros were hurt! But now she's had to turn almost everyone out into the pasture till she can get all that metal and splintered wood cleared out this coming week, so it's pretty crowded out there. The same tornado damaged or destroyed some other buildings (but no houses) near Audra and in a different part of town, and there were two tornados up in Billings that night, too! Anyway, I hope you can find a way to satisfy your wanderlust at least a little bit! I can hardly wait to go back to Fort Collins!

    Our lower price takes effect tomorrow, and it had BETTER yield some showings and an offer! We lowered our price 8%! We're not dicking around! And we made an offer on a house yesterday, contingent on the sale of this one. It's new construction that won't be finished for another two weeks, but the builder may not want to wait for our place to sell. We should know soon.... nerve-wracking process for sure! It's the only house currently for sale that we're interested in, so we thought we'd better at least get an offer in. It's a really cute house!

    Barbara ~ Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed them, even without the scratch-and-sniff fragrance. :-)

    We relaxed completely on our mini-vacation and it WAS nice! No schedule, no chores, no aggravations. And frankly it was a real treat to pay someone else to make the bed, cook the food and do the dishes! :-) And to get to walk almost everywhere. We thoroughly enjoyed it, but it made it tough to return to "Reality Street!"

  6. Love the pictures. The Victorian house behind the lilac bushes is charming.

    I seriously need to completely redo my front landscaping. I did some serious weeding yesterday, but I still have more to do. I replaced my old solar lights with a dozen color changing solar lights out on May 14 and last week, someone came and stole them all. boo! When I was weeding yesterday, I discovered the thieves left 9 of the 12 stakes that install the lights into the ground. They weren't smart thieves. :::chuckle::: Your flowerbed looks great.

    Thanks for sharing all of these lovely Spring pictures.

  7. Lori ~ That Victorian house really is pretty, and would you believe that it kept being put on the market (for very little money) years ago and would sit there for about a year at a time before selling? We figured it must have some major issues, but whomever bought it last, several years ago, must be happy there.

    Thank you so much for your compliments on our front flowerbed! (I'm going to try to set up a tripod one night after dark and get a photo of it with the solar lights glowing, it's so pretty!) We needed to redo that flowerbed forever, but it was a daunting task and a low priority compared to other things. Nothing like having your house on the market to finally goose you into doing the back-burnered stuff! We both wish we could have afforded to get rid of a lot of the concrete driveway and have that whole front area landscaped into a private sanctuary courtyard sort of area, but the drifting that goes on out there and the need to be able to move snow made that impractical. I can't believe someone stole your solar lights!! That's awful! And they left most of the stakes? You're right, they weren't very bright thieves. Are you going to replace them or do you just think that would invite more thievery? I've lived in a crime-free area for so long, I'd have a hard time adjusting to stuff like that. I went into a quilt shop in Sheridan with AdventureJo when she visited here last time, and after asking Jo where she was from, the clerk said, "I know you must be local." (I never shop there and didn't know her). How did she know? Because when we'd walked in the store, I'd tossed my purse up on the counter and wandered off to the back of the store! LOL Most people around here don't bother to lock their cars or houses, and that's how all of us should be able to live!

    I'm so glad you enjoyed the photos! :-)

  8. Yes, Please! Scratch and sniff photos next time if you please! I love lilacs and my own bush was lovely this year but the perfume is available two short a time for my taste!

    This post had so many photos, it's hard to pick a favorite. Lilacs are my all time favorite so i have to go with one of them and I'll pick the one on South Main street. glad you snuck that one it.

    I totally think you should take a few of the bulbs with you when you move - they should continue to bring you pleasure and I doubt they'll give the future owners the pleasure they bring you!

  9. Jo ~ Oh, if only I could provide scratch & sniff flower photos! :-) I agree that the scent of lilacs "lastess much too shortly" (as I used to say as a wee tot). Perhaps that makes us love it even more.

    I'm glad your favorite photo was the one I made an extra effort to take and insert into this post! And you make a good point about those bulbs bringing us more pleasure than they would for the future owners of this place. (If those people even exist - I'm beginning to wonder! Where oh where are they hiding?)

  10. Too many things in our lives "lastess much too shortly". Especially our vacations. That's why I love to go back and write about them - it's like being there again. (and it helps me to remember since i have such a short term memory for the details!)
    I'm glad you do that in your posts too.


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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