At top left in the photo collage of the pussywillow tree [goat willow] is the silky grey kittens as they appeared
on March 22, 2010, a photo taken the day after our arrival in Kentucky a year ago.
The other photos were all taken March 22, 2011.
Note that the early spring has fast-forwarded the goat willow to fully developed catkins.
The whole tree has a fuzzy yellow haze.
Top left is the clump of peonies--my delighted discovery made on March 22, 2010.
Like the goat willow tree, the peonies are far ahead of last spring in emerging.
From my photo archives I learned that it was April 1st in 2010 before the peonies shoots were as tall as they are now.
At bottom left is the tree peony which I planted a year ago.
Photos of the vintage Kieffer pear tree, all taken March 22, 2011.
Last year my first photo of pear blossom is dated April 3rd.
It seems incredible that the century old tree survived another winter of harsh winds and heavier than usual snow.
It is even more crone-like in appearance having lost heavily fruit-laden branches last summer and autumn.
As you can see, part of the trunk is hollow. Daylight can be seen from one side to the other.
There is another open wound nearer the top of the tree.
During the winter I created a photo story of the venerable pear tree which was featured in our local online publication, Columbia Magazine.
I researched the "old-timey pear" which is the name locally given to trees of this variety.
I was able to determine that the pear is more correctly labeled Kieffer pear.
Several southern nurseries offer this hardy, blight and heat resistant pear.
I have ordered two on semi-dwarf stock.
I began preparing this post on March 23rd.
Our weather turned that evening with a thunderstorm, wind and hail. It has since been chilly with intermittant showers. Leaves are emerging on the old pear tree although the blossoming seems to have been halted, whether by the cooler weather or because the tree is stressed, I don't know.
I grew up in a family for whom seasons and weather were vital matters.
This is hardly unusual since country people have always been keen observers of weather as it affects seedtime, cultivation and harvest.
Folks didn't hesitate to prophesy regarding imminent weather patterns; they had, after all, been observing the signs for years.
My father, who relied on "The Old Farmer's Almanac" as well as his common sense, prefaced many of his weather predictions with----"I'm afraid we're in for a_____"--fill in the blank with storm; dry spell;
an early winter.
My maternal grandfather kept diaries for many years. There was nothing literary or elaborate about his entries. He recorded the weather, the amount of milk produced by the cows. He noted when potatoes were planted, when wild berries ripened, when mud season turned the country dirt roads to a sticky rutted mess.
Sometimes I would comment that the weather seemed too cold for spring break from school--or that snow had come early, the lilacs were late in blooming.
Grampa's response was to take down half a dozen or so of the diaries from the cupboard and we would compare the weather for a random assortment of years.
We noted that indeed there were seasons when temperatures were out of kilter or storms came unexpectedly, but taken as a whole, the turn of the seasons from year to year was reassuringly predictable.
Spring always arrived, no matter how long the winter.
The photo folders on my PC, automatically dated, serve much the same purpose as my grandfather's diaries, noting the weather and the small details and interests of our days--projects, pets,
scenes from home or travel.
My blog expands this process and I'm already finding that it serves as a helpful journal recording our first year of gardening in a new home.
In the past I have started many a garden with the good intentions of keeping a garden plan or chart.
Somehow the roll of paper was unwittingly left outside in the rain or blown away across the field. Other times I just didn't stay organized and complete the chart with notes on harvest dates or which varities of tomatoes or corn gave the best yields.
As we pondered aloud last week over the forward season it was gratifying to refer to the photo archives and
verify that the first flush of spring did indeed come early.
Pellets of hail rattled down as wind and thunder ushered in the Wednesday evening storm.
Within moments the hail gave way to rain and an eerie dark green dusk enveloped the dooryard.
Pebbles galloped dementedly about in her pasture during the hail and rain while J. with his head out the window urged her to "go to the barn."
Here she is, wet and indignant in the pale evening sunlight which followed the storm.
The temperature dropped about 20 degrees during the hour of the storm.
When the rain ceased and the thunder had rolled off, I walked in a shimmering golden sunset, barn kittens skittering at my heels.