Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossoms

The cherry blossoms are in full bloom. They started opening a week ago, slowly at first. But on the first warm day, March 24, they all popped open at once. Warm? Not really. Warmer is more like it. Has it really been warm yet this year? That’s debatable. The bees certainly don’t think it has. They are still fast asleep in their dens and wintering hives.

Opening cherry blossoms

Bees buzzing about is a sure sign that it is actually warm. This year the cherry blossoms will bloom without swarms of bees buzzing about. And the forecast is for clouds and rain through April 6. Some sun is forecast to appear on the 7th. But still no warmth to speak of.

So the cherry blossoms will probably have floated away before it warms up enough for the bees to buzz about.

One open cherry blossom in a bunch of closed buds.

Wet, cool Marches and early Aprils seems to be a trend. It’s been a number of years since we’ve had warm, dry weather when the cherry blossoms bloom, and swarms of buzzing bees so loud that you can hear them long before you reach the cherry tree.

Down in the valley, fields of daffodils cover the valley with brilliant yellow carpets. They stretch for as long as the eye can see. The swans are still about, though not for long. What do they think of these daffodil fields when they go flying overhead? Do they cock they heads to look at them? A week or two and they will be gone. It doesn’t give me much time to ask them.

Spring Equinox 2022

Sunrise on spring equinox

Sunrise on a calm spring equinox. It happened here at 8:33 this morning. Yesterday’s pouring rain lifted and there was blue sky behind the clouds this morning.

At 8:33 this morning I decided to look online to see at what time the solstice happened today and was surprised to read it was happening now, at 8:33 in the morning. How fortuitous was that?

The drab winter colors are changing to spring’s wonderful hues. Soon, winter will be but a memory. Each night the frogs sing louder at night. Every day there are more birds flying in.

Sunrise on spring equinox
Snow, the duck, having breakfast.

This spring, wood ducks have taken to eating the ducks’ feed and hanging out at the pond. They’re getting used to my presence and don’t automatically fly off screaming when I show up.

Our ducks having breakfast.

What do our ducks think about the wood ducks? For the most part they leave them alone. At first there were just a few wood ducks, then five, then ten, and more. But they are nowhere near as plentiful as the snow geese having their last grazing on the pastures in the valley.

The snow geese have yet to leave for Alaska and Siberia. On Friday a huge flock of them covered much of a pasture on the way to the post office. Flocks of snow geese, herds of swans, those are winter scenes that will be gone in a few weeks. But new, wonderful things, cherry trees in full bloom, potatoes sprouts, and spring rainbows will come. It really feels like the spring equinox . From now on there is more light than dark, more warmth than cold.

Spring Surprises

Daffodils in bloom

Spring unfolds slowly in the Pacific Northwest, which means there is more time for spring surprises. It should be no surprise that daffodils bloom in spring. Yet when they do it’s always a pleasant surprise.

A friend raises alpacas and she’s generously shared alpaca beans with me. They’re great for enriching the garden soil. Unlike many other types of animal droppings, you can use them directly without composting them. Their low nitrogen level won’t burn plants. Neither do alpaca beans contain weed seeds.

Spring surprise - dogs love alpaca beas

I spread some alpaca beans around some flowers and was surprised to discover that the dogs thought I had liberally spread dog treats all around just for them. They had a feast.

So if you raise alpacas and wonder what to do with all their droppings, try drying them out and giving them to your dog loving friends as dog treats. Put them in pretty bags and don’t tell your friends what they are until they beg you for the recipe. Your friends might disdain you, but their dogs will love you forever.

Snow geese on the move

The sign says “No Parking” but the snow geese pay no attention. Huge flocks of snow geese covered pastures in the north Skagit River delta today. A few more weeks and they will be off, on their way to the Arctic.

A sunny day to plant potatoes

There should be more sunny days, so when they come along, they are a pleasant spring surprise. It’s the beginning of potato planting season. Seeing their first leaves poke out of the ground is always one of spring’s pleasant surprises.

Spring flowers

All Is Not Lost

All is not lost - stinging nettles are up.

All is not lost because stinging nettles are popping out of the ground. Spring is here for good. Omelettes and souflés with stinging nettles, stinging nettle soup, stinging nettle chowder, potatoes with stinging nettles, for a month or two, we’ll enjoy the taste of spring.

All is not lost - purple crocus are in bloom

All is not lost because the crocus by the Horse Chestnut are in bloom. Each year they pop up at the cusp of winter and spring. And each year there are a few more.

The Horse Chestnut puts on a display of showy flowers too, later in the spring. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health:

Historically, horse chestnut seed extract was used for joint pain, bladder and gastrointestinal problems, fever, leg cramps, and other conditions. Today, horse chestnut seed extract is promoted for chronic venous insufficiency (CVI; poor blood flow in the veins of the legs, which may lead to leg pain, swelling, itchiness, and other symptoms), irritable bowel syndrome, male infertility, and other conditions.

A 2012 systematic review of 17 studies suggested that horse chestnut seed extract can improve symptoms of CVI. Results from one of these studies suggested that horse chestnut seed extract may be as effective as wearing compression stockings.

Makes me ponder about collecting some Horse Chestnut seeds and making an extract for my joints. However they contain a toxic substance. So you have to remove it before you can use them.

All is not lost - cherry buds

All is not lost because the cherry blossom buds are swelling. Each day they swell a bit more. Watching them plump up until they pop open makes spring a delight.