One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Last fall, I planted a whole bag of miniature daffodils here and there around the yard, and in the last twenty-four hours, they’re appearing almost everywhere. It’s kind of fun, as I’d sort of forgotten all the places I put them, so they keep surprising me…and really, it’s pretty decent, as surprises go.

The unofficial Festival of St. Croci continues, as another wave of them come into their glory in the beds around the front and side of the house. They sort of got my attention today, as our temps climbed into the sixties…and so I spent some time working on those beds, cleaning them up after winter.

It’s a sort of Zen thing, this annual ritual of picking bits of clamshells out of the garden. This is one of the costs of having a nice seashell path around the house. Not only do bits get stuck between the dog’s pads, and the soles of our shoes…but every spring, a great quantity have found their way into the garden beds, from snow shoveling (which we had little off this year…) and wind and washing rains…or however.

The only thing that really matters is that they have to be picked out by hand. I don’t mind leaving some, since the calcium’s always a good addition to a garden bed, but I always think it looks better if the garden bed and the walking path don’t look similar.

Anyway, every year the tradition involves kneeling down and picking out as many as you can, before adding a fresh layer of soil. But sometimes it feels like you’re working against a glacier. Trust me, a paved path is better. But at least the views are pretty decent.

The hyacinths in that front bed are also at the height of their bloom, and so the afternoon’s warm breezes wore a pleasant fragrance and made the work a little sweeter, too. It’s always pretty peaceful out there, the breeze in the treetops, the soft pee-bee of the chickadees as they try to get lucky, crow caws and the occasional quack.

Oh, yes, and right around dinner time, six Canada geese arrived honking and splashing and carrying on…looking every bit like the triple date it may have been. They start honking, I think, as they begin their descent, and so you can really hear them coming from a ways off before they land. It’s kind of hard to miss.

I was happy to find some other nice surprises, like a wide assortment of columbine seedlings…the result of my trying to bring some of the seeds from the great plants out back up to these beds.

Once most of the shells had been returned to the paths, I got to cleaning those up a bit. The winter brought us plenty of pine needles and lots of little bits of branches everywhere. I remember when I was little, my Grandma offered to pay me a nickle for every one of those I picked up from her yard when we were visiting. I had no idea then what a sweet deal it was.

Anyway, I got a few buckets of sticks cleaned up, before raking the rest of the debris from the paths…

Since most of my activity was focussed around the house gardens, it was later in the afternoon when I finally wandered out back, and found the first tulip of the year in bloom in the gardens there.

Later in the evening, an overturned paving stone revealed this salamander and a cluster of…okay, people, can we settle on a name for them, or properly identify who they are? I think the options are potato bug, sow beetle, pill bug?

Anyway, they had all been hidden underneath, and none seemed particularly thrilled for the attention.

The salamander was good about letting me get in a good couple of shots of it before it scurried off to somewhere more secluded and dark.

There’s a pair of ducks on the pond who are smaller than the ones we’re used to seeing…not that we’ve had an especially good look at these two. They seem to be more splash-oriented in their pond activities…and one of them threw a kind of laughing quack in our direction as we tried to spy on them near the water’s edge.

And the peepers are loud and strong as ever, starting today well before sundown.


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