Spring is a riot of blossoms now. Plum trees and western skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) compete to see who can fill the air with the most aroma. You can imagine which has the more powerful fragrance. According to Dave’s Botanary “Lysichiton is from the Greek lysis (loosening) and chiton (cloak); as the fruit ripens the spathe is removed from the spadix.”
I got the last of the seed potatoes into the ground, the last that I have hanging around that is. I will need to get more. I’ve got a vague notion of growing at least a thousand pounds of potatoes this year. The ducks aren’t sure I can do it, but they will give me a lot of help with my digging. I think ducks enjoy mud more than pigs.
The one place where the action is this time of year is the blooming cherry tree. It is where everyone gathers. Wasps, bees, flies, bumblebees, butterflies, and a zillion other little things with wings make it the busiest place in the garden. It would be easy to while away hours up in the blooming cherry tree, watching the constant flow of traffic.
One thing I noticed is that bees prefer cherry blossoms that are in the sunshine. Does the nectar flow more when the blossoms are warmed by the sun? That’s my hypothesis as to why the bees seem to like the sunny blossoms more, and why the cherry tree is where everyone gathers when the sun comes out.
Five days ago, the cherry blossoms were on the verge of opening. A few buds teased with slightly unfurled petals. Today, they are no longer teasing. Their petals are open wide, dancing in the spring breeze. I need to enjoy them today. Clouds and rain are forecast for tomorrow and the coming week. Sure, they are lovely underneath the clouds or in a shower, but not like they are up against a cobalt blue sky.
Such beauty calms the mind. There is plenty to worry about these days. It’s hard to believe that a virus, so small that 600 to 800 could line up on the width of a human hair, is powerful enough to bring societies around the world to their knees. A corona virus is 120 nanometers across. According to the National Nanotechnology Initiative a human hair is approximately 80,000- 100,000 nanometers wide. Something so minuscule is able to disrupt a human which is nearly two billion times as tall as it.
A corona virus may not be a living thing (Are Viruses Alive? – Scientific America), but it can still tell us the importance to enjoy them today, whatever them is. It’s also teaching us lessons on the need to pay attention to the tiniest of details, and the importance of having leaders who are truthful, pay attention to facts, and are concerned about the welfare of others.
The snow geese migration has started. The snow geese that winter here are on the move. I passed a flock of thousands of them on the way home from delivering tofu. They are on their way to their summer home on Wrangle Island in Russia in the Arctic Ocean, 2,400 miles away. The island hosts some 450,000 snow geese during the summer. There they breed and raise the next generation of snow geese.
Next November, the snow geese migration will reverse course and we’ll welcome thousands of snow geese as they fly in from the north.
Russian biologist, Vasiliy Baranyuk has studied the snow geese of Wrangel Island in Russia for forty years. He has followed them to their wintering ground as far as Nebraska.
Looking at their route does make me wonder how often they stop to sight see on the way north. The lucky thing about snow geese parents is they don’t have to worry about their children begging to stop because they have to go to the bathroom. That gentle rain that falls when a huge flock of snow geese fly overhead? It’s snow geese young that can’t hold it any longer.
A frosty March morning leads to a great discovery. I knew the ducks had to be laying eggs, but where? Their secret is no longer a puzzle. I’ve discovered where they are laying their eggs. Ducks are clever about hiding their nests. Fortunately, they aren’t into a brooding mood yet. This would be far too many ducklings to handle.
The Komatsuna 小松菜 survived the winter rather well. So well they are on the verge of blooming. With no other brassicas in bloom, I can let these bloom and go to seed.
The nettles are up, a sure sign that spring is well on its way.
The weather is warm enough to start planting. And this year I am saying good bye to straight rows. Instead of potatoes rows, I’ll have potato bends, cabbage circles, and corn waves. And no more stretches of the same thing over and over again, starting with this bend of German Butterball potatoes. I mixed in garlic and leeks among the potatoes.
Growing up in Japan, I saw many advertisements for Vermont Curry by House Foods, one of the largest food manufacturers and brands in Japan. House Vermont Curry ads with their catchy tune were everywhere. I had a vague idea where Vermont was and thought they ate a lot of curry there.
Why Vermont? I don’t think there is such a thing as Vermont Curry in Vermont. According to Wikipedia Japan, House Vermont Curry was launched in 1963. It comes in three levels of spiciness, mild, medium, and hot. The medium variety of House Vermont Curry is the number 1 selling curry in Japan today, mild is #2, and hot is #6, so Japanese eat a lot of Vermont Curry to this day.
Reading the Wikipedia history, House was working on a curry using apples and honey in the early 1960s. At the same time, Vermont therapy was the rage in Japan. Vermont therapy? In 1958, a fifth generation Vermonter, Dr. Deforrest Clinton Jarvis (1881-1966), published his “Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health”. He advocated doses of apple cider vinegar and honey three times daily “to prevent and/or cure many common illnesses including arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, high blood pressure and colds.”
His ideas reached Japan and became popular. House seized on the popularity of Vermont Therapy and slapped the name Vermont on their new curry. It is the most popular curry in Japan a half century later.
I’m sure Dr. Jarvis had no idea his book would lead to the development of the best selling curry in Japan. Vermont Curry sounds a lot better than Dr. Deforrest Clinton Jarvis Curry, which would have been a flop.
Hey, Bernie, here’s an idea
I doubt many in Vermont are aware of this. Maybe Bernie could start tossing out boxes of Vermont Curry at his rallies. People could really feel the Bern then. Some town in Vermont could start up a huge travel industry by picking a log house where the “original Vermont Curry” was made when an immigrant from India was holed up all winter in the cabin with a Mohican and a French Canadian, and the three of them developed a curry with apples and honey. Vermont could have direct flights from Japan with tourists lining up to taste this original Vermont Curry dish in three flavors: French Canadian Mild, Mohican Spicy, and Indian Flame Thrower.
I flipped the calendar page from February to March and saw I had crocus last March. That stirred me to investigate if the crocus under the horse chestnut were up.
Up they are, loads of them.
Daffodils too. Every year I see new daffodils, and each year seeing the first ones open is as delightful as it was many years ago.
The rhubarb are popping up too. Here’s a good old friend, ever faithful, no matter how many times I eat it, spreading it’s new leaves, sending out thick stalks to feed me, though I doubt that is how rhubarb sees the situation. I’ve planted many rhubarb so no one rhubarb gets picked on by me too much.
Spring means it is time to thin out the bamboo. Fresh bamboo poles become poles to trellis beans. Little by little, my vegetable garden, shaggy from winter’s storms, will be tamed, though not too much. Nature prefers to be messy.