ordinary… mostly

"We have nothing to offer each other, except a haven." — K. Nafziger



This week in the forest… 28 October 2012

A week ago, I was pleased to show my father how to identify witch hazel. But I had to respond with raised eyebrows when he said he was looking for blossoms. With a mixture of skepticism and curiosity, I wondered to myself why anything would bloom this late in the year. We didn’t find any flowers, however, and the conversation passed from my mind…

…until today, when I saw wisps of yellow in the woods around our house.

Bits of yellow in a gray wood
The witch hazel blossoms are the delicate pale yellow flowers in the foreground.

Upon closer inspection, here is what I found…

A branch of witch hazelAn individual blossomWhat a surprise! For the most part, these trees have lost their leaves, but the blossoms are in full swing.

After I finished snapping my pictures, the question returned: Why would anything be blooming now? Evidently, witch hazel has no competition from other plants for pollinating insects at this time of year. On the flip side, there are relatively few pollinators. It’s a bit of a high risk/high reward strategy.

So that’s what is happening now in the forest, but I anticipate we’ll have some more news soon…

Fallen leaf
Fallen leaf


This week in the garden… Memorial Day 2012

I anticipate that this will be my last garden update from Illinois. Here’s what’s blooming around the house this week…

Another altar in the world…

Jury duty, part II: Dandelions

Ordinary Spouse’s call to jury duty required that I change my plans for Tuesday, as well. On one hand, I had to take an unplanned vacation day, which was a bit of a bummer. I missed part of the APS Users Meeting where we were hearing about things like the Superb Bird of Paradise and carbon sequestration.

On the other hand, I got to devote my efforts to being a daddy for the day. This was not real challenging, since Ordinary Spouse/Mommy left me with detailed directions. Oldest Daughter is off with my parents for the week, so it was just the younger two who were in my care. For Middle Daughter, that basically meant getting her on the bus and off to school in the morning, and then picking her up early in the afternoon for a doctor’s appointment.

For Youngest Daughter, I got to sit in on her ballet lesson at the YMCA. But my favorite part of the day was the oil change for my car.


Well – here’s the thing about the oil change. We had to find something to occupy our time while we waited for the car: either playing in the park or going to the library. YD chose a trip to the library. But we walked at her pace, and along the way I rediscovered some of the joys of parenting a young child.

We stopped to look at everything. First, it was two squirrels that were trying to hide from us. Later it was the stump of a tree that had been recently cut down. Ants and fruit flies were drinking sap. We also stopped to pick up sticks and look at tree bark. Purple tulips caught our attention, and YD ran up and down the entrance ramp at a church building that we passed. But the best line of the day was…

Look at the beautiful dandelions!

It occurred to me that she doesn’t share our suburban sensibilities regarding dandelions. Because we try to rid our yards of them, they aren’t commonplace for her. She actually appreciates and celebrates their beauty.

As it should be.

And as I reflected more on this, I realized that Middle Daughter has also been picking dandelion bouquets recently. When you slow down and listen, there is a lot that you can learn from children.

Dear God – Thank you for children. Thank you for dandelions.

This week in the garden… 25 May 2010

Wow – somehow I’ve managed to go for a month and a half without garden pictures.  And it was the month and a half when everything just took off.  So without further delay, here’s what’s growing this week…

(BTW – check out the close ups of the flax.  I think those are pretty cool.)

Top row: Mother’s Day basket from Youngest Daughter (running in the background), pink peonies, white peonies, spirea, and Russian sage

Middle row: Lavender (with a bit more Russian sage), obedient plant, phlox, chives, and geranium

Bottom row: Flax, more flax, even more flax, apple mint, and iris

This week in the garden… 10 April 2010

Today we’re celebrating Middle Daughter’s birthday (a little early).  It was a beautiful day for a celebration, and I got outside to snap a few pictures of the new growth in the front flower bed.

Signs of spring

Because it was such a lovely day in the Chicago ‘burbs, I needed to take at least one breath of fresh air at lunchtime.  When I stepped outside, this is what I heard:

Hooray for the spring peepers!

(BTW – I recorded them just a few feet from the front door!)

And for good measure, here are some additional pictures from our garden  at home (taken this morning):

(L to R: blooming maple; the whole flower bed is turning green; hyacinths making an appearance; crocus; daffodils)

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