Let It Go


These little chicks are having a hard time keeping up with their mother. As far as she is concerned, her mothering days are over. They aren’t ready to be on their own. Since yesterday, they’ve been running around, looking for her when she goes off on her own. They are learning the hard way that sometimes you need to let it go, even your own mother.

In some cases, it is the chicks who decide to be on their own, and it is the mother hens who aren’t ready to let go.

A Little Tenderness


Old Billy, the tenderest rooster of the bunch. He is the father, grandfather, great grandfather, great great grandfather, great great great grandfather, great great great great grandfather, and great great great great great grandfather of many of the chickens here.


For lunch today, tender napa cabbage shoots. It was time to thin out a row of cabbage. A handful of cabbage shoots makes a tender salad.


Tender raspberries are plump and ready for picking. A handful makes a perfect mid afternoon treat.


Baby apples are covered with tender down. Where does it go as the apples grow?


Nothing is more tender than a mother hen. These baby chicks hatched yesterday and today. This afternoon she gave them their first lesson on what to eat. Look at how tenderly she shows them where to peck.


Potato Flowers in May


Barrow Alaska’s record early snowmelt has been in the news recently. Snow at NOAA’s Barrow Observatory started to melt on May 13, 10 days earlier than the previous record for Barrow. An equally astounding, much-earlier-than-usual phenomena are the early blooming potatoes at a man and his hoe. Potato flowers in May? Mid June maybe, but May? I’m surprised there aren’t reporters from Reuters, the New York Times, Der Spiegel, CNN, and more, camping out in the driveway to take pictures of potato flowers blooming so early! It’s as moving a sight as glaciers melting in Greenland.

The Benefits of Going to Seed


Last year I found this variety of arugula with small serrated leaves. I let some go to seed and this year I have it coming up in droves. With a little effort and luck, I’ll get an established bed of this wonderful arugula that will provide arugula for years to come.


A basket of eggs, greens, and herbs is the reward for a day working in the garden.

The Enthusiastic Garden Help


I can’t complain about the garden help’s enthusiasm. It seems to have no bounds. Happiness is infectious. If you’re trying to avoid catching it, keep happy dogs a long ways off. Their happiness is especially contagious.

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“Anything else?” Takuma 拓真 and Ena 枝那 seem to ask. There is a long list of tasks for them to learn, things like: no digging up the potatoes, no chasing the chickens, bark and chase away the hawks, and on and on. After having them for nearly three weeks, I have no doubt they’ll master their work, and still keep us infected with happiness and laughter.


Other Worlds


Bees live in a phantasmagoric world of shapes and colors and fragrances we can’t fathom. For brief moments, following them buzz around flowers, you can get glimpses of what their world is like. Imagine getting your dinner by sticking your tongue into yellow, orange, and violet tubes big enough to push your whole head inside. Eating off flat plates must seem dull to them.


Grape vines have their own special world. Born as white, fuzzy leaves, they unfold into vast sheets of green. What happens to all that baby fuzz? Is it there to keep them warm? So they don’t taste good? So they don’t burn in the blazing sunlight?


The baby chicks have their mother-centered world. To them, their mothers must be towering, gentle giants. What memories of their mothers do they keep when they grow up? As adults, when they tuck their heads under their feathers to sleep, do they have sweet dreams of sleeping under their mother’s feathers?


By the pond, the Japanese Snowbells (Styrax japonica) are blooming. Every spring I look forward to these trees blooming. On a warm sunny day, when they are in full bloom and you can smell their sweet scent, you can lie underneath them and daydream for hours.


Life Stages and the Origin of Celtic Art


Let your kale go through its full life stages, and you get these stunning, brilliant, red hues when the plant enters old age. Kale goes out, bursting in flame. With leaves ablaze, the flower stalks which reached up high to touch the sky, become too heavy with seed pods, and tumble to the ground. It doesn’t take much to establish a permanent bed of kale. In a month or two, a million baby kale plants will sprout and start the cycle all over again.


The garlic are spinning themselves silly these days. I can see how maybe, perhaps, Celtic Art with all its circular designs, originated with gardeners inspired by garlic curls.




So beautiful, so deadly, the foxgloves are blooming. It’s not toxic to bees, which frequent it in droves. But it is deadly to humans and many other animals, so deadly that it is also called Deadmen’s Bells.


It’s a Dog’s Life


Salmon berries are ripening. The much sweeter thimble berries aren’t far behind. I’ll nibble on a few salmon berries, but leave most for the birds. I’m spending hours in the garden every day, and the birds sing the entire time. If we picked all the berries, the birds might go elsewhere.


The cottonwood fluff is everywhere. A spider’s nightmare. With its web coated with cottonwood fluff, what’s a spider to do? It would probably be faster to spin a new web than to pick all the cottonwood fluff out of this one.


Ena 枝那 and Takuma 拓真 were in the garden with me today. I was weeding, weeding, weeding. They were playing and napping, playing and napping. Sometimes, I think life would be better as a dog. They are getting the idea that chasing chickens is a big NO, but that chasing wild rabbits comes with a reward. It’s ten days since they arrived. They are settling in and enjoying their new home. No more relying on handouts. No more worrying about where their next meal is coming from. I could be a dog.


To Be as Fat and Light as a Bumblebee


Oh, to be as fat and light as a bumblebee. It must be fun to be so rolly-polly and still float effortlessly through the air. The news about bees disappearing is distressing. At least here at a man and his hoe, bees are as numerous as ever. The comfrey buzz with hundreds of bumblebees.

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Watch them bumble around, and you see why they’re called bumble bees. Sometimes it looks like their wings lift them off before they are ready to go. Other times, they go bumping into things. In slow motion, they look like drunken sailors stumbling from bar to bar. Such amazing creatures, and the garden is full of them. I have to question the sanity of anyone who makes and sells chemicals that can harm such wondrous creatures, and yet millions of pounds of such chemicals are sprayed on our crops every year. How did we get to this point where we are ripping apart the biological fabric that keeps us alive? Our lives depend on creatures such as these delightful bumble bees.