May 17, 2015

The Delight and the Madness of May

May is all kinds of madness, and I'm not sure I have ever experienced it any other way.  There is the revelry of the 1st of May, if you partake in it, and the explosions of colour and form as the green world returns lustily to life.  I have seen more bud and bloom in these last few weeks than I will see for the rest of the growing season, I think.  It is dizzying and intoxicating.

I am frantically stringing more and more fishing line across bamboo stakes to keep ahead of the peas that are greedily reaching for the sky. I'm nibbling lettuces and chives while thinning onions and weeding out the clover that has snuck in to the garden beds. The honeyberry bush is delivering up funny-looking purple berries (like a blueberry, but more cylindrical) and I'm fighting off the birds nesting in the cedars for my share.

The lilacs have languished just as the dogwood and wild rose have begun to flower. The columbines opened overnight. And we finally were blessed with some rain.

The high valley desert that I live in can be cruel without enough snow each winter to fill the watersheds. If the snow volume is little, like this past winter, we depend on the spring rains. And until today, we've had little but a sprinkle. As the earth and the cycles shift and change, there is little accuracy in predicting the seasonal weather if you rely on "what used to be." The April and May showers we once were familiar with, are now closer to June monsoons. That can spell the end of some plants in my garden, like the delphiniums that don't like to get soggy as they prepare to bloom (they get dusty and mold), and the Valley's cherry crops can be damaged by the downpours so late in the spring.

But we adjust. We move plants to different locations, or phase them out for more hearty cultivars. We collect water when it does rain. We wander the Valley hills and notice that the harvest times for the wild flowers and trees has shifted slighty - and we shift too. And when the constant sun arrives, around late June until early September, we will leave our prayers and offerings upon the land in the hopes that the wildfires are few and well managed.

In the time between - and isn't it always the time between, these days - I have been wandering a bit, with my wild-hearted friend. I have witnessed the Tamarack needles return, and the chocolate lilies and wild strawberries flower.  A few days ago, I walked through the Valley sagebrush and collected a small basket full for drying, while swooning over lupines and bitter root.  

Artemisia tridentata (Big Sagebrush)

You know it is dry when the bitter root is happily blooming.

There are still activities afoot that are holdouts from late winter. The fire bowl has not been put away yet, but a burning ban in the Valley is imminent if the rain does not continue. Still, there are candles to light each evening when I finally drag myself and the cats back indoors.  There is also a crockpot of bone broth on simmer tonight - a practice that has continued from the cold months, as I find it nourshing and calming. There are blankets folded in neat piles, that I may never put away in the cedar chest. There is some odd comfort in having an assortment of soft blankets at the ready - even if they become merely cat beds until the Autumn returns.

Sagebrush plains between Valley hills

As I have been writing this, the moon too has shifted. A blink or two after its darkest possible incarnation, and it is new again. Although we won't see it as a tiny slice of crescent for a few days, it moves slowly away from its momentary position directly between the earth and sun.  I like this. While many don't consider the moon "new" until they can see it, I have always loved the idea that it starts a fresh journey the next breath after it is at its darkest. 

And what of your journey this month? What is growing around you? What is changing or shifting? Let us lift a glass of iced herbal tea (or something stronger) to the glory of May, the lushness of the earth, and the fresh new moon. Cheers!

Assorted May Mischief:

~ On May Eve I used Sarah's Sabbat Flying Ointment and whisked off to the Brocken. Her shop is closed until the beginning of June, but swing by and read her essay "For Fear of Flying."

~ Mercury now heads into retrograde. Having been born in a sign ruled by Mercury, I find the retrograde weeks perfect for organizing, and letting go of things. I generally go through my closets and find clothes and items in good shape to donate to the thrift store. I wrangle books, paper work, and all those sticky notes I write and leave everywhere, in to some kind of order. Don't fret about the wonky energy (if you even feel it). Simply think before you speak, double check important paperwork, and perhaps take the time to finally sort out your junk drawer!

Bri says it better, in this post about the current retrograde in Gemini.

~ The farmers market is open for the season and I'm in heaven. Also of note: the city has allowed local wineries to have a booth at the market and offer tastings. Just when I thought the farmers market couldn't get any better. And although wine is fine, vodka is better! New to our local spirits trade, Legend Distilling is making a name for itself with local fruit infused vodka.



Linda Wildenstein said...

Such a great sharing of your life and plants. We have had more rain in the last month that we usually have in the whole year. So we have weedlings bigger than the plants. And grass gone to seed because it has been too wet to mow. It's always something new in life to ponder and figure out.
I have similar reactions to the retrograde. It's like a forced fun march of emotions.
Much love and light to you dear lady, xoxo Oma Linda

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Fruit infused vodka is so yummy!

Magaly Guerrero said...

I want to nibble on lettuce! I might have to start a tray... My poor Piano Man will be overtaken by the greenery in our apartment.

Rue said...

Ah, but edible greenery is the best kind! He will thank you - in those lovely ways he does. ;)

Debra Nehring said...

I so appreciated the rain this weekend. Even though I'm north of you by a bit, it's been uncommonly dry so far this spring. Watching the river since we are still in run off mode but so far things are OK.
Would love to check out the new distillery. Is it in Gallagher Lake? I saw one going in there last time I was down.
Here's to fresh peas with garden snipped chives!!

Rue said...

Debra - it is in Naramata, nestled between all the wineries. I've yet to get there, but the entire menu of their liquors looks amazing! I am dreaming of an apricot martini...

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jen, as usual. We live in different climes, but have similar springtime plant discoveries! I wish I could hear more about your flight to Brocken! How do you like Sabbat? Have you tried others by Sarah? I've used most. I am currently experimenting with Henbane and Datureae. I think Saturn may be my favorite! Happy spring blessings!

Rue said...

Oh, let's do compare notes sometime! For now, I will leave you with:

Sabbat: awesome
Henbane: favourite
Aves: amazing
Forest Spirit: perfect for conscious connections
Saturn: have not tried as yet

Unknown said...

Up here in the Yukon the season is a little early and plants that I didn't think would make it through the winter have after our nice winter.

Rue said...

One of my dearest friends is from Whitehorse, and often tells me gardening tales (mostly trials) of trying to have a big garden up there!

I'm happy to hear that your plants made it through!

Anonymous said...

those pictures for sure can make one start dreaming :-D around here most things are in bloom and growing like crazy, too during the past two weeks, lovely to see that!