Greetings from Brewster! Yes, ’tis the Roving Gardener who greets you today, as I’ve begun a new week’s gig of house and pet-sitting with my pals Mugsy and Peanut again. Badum is happily managing both floors of our house in my absence, as the Downstairses are happy to be supervised by him. He loves their windows’ lower perspective on the yard and bird feeding station, too.
Meanwhile, so busy was I preparing to make the move and doing so (waited ’til the last moment, naturally), that only now have I realized that Thursday marked my fifth anniversary as a blogger. Now that I’ve remembered, I can’t help but marvel at the time that’s passed and the gardens I’ve shared in that time. I really only started as a way to show my friends and famliy a garden hidden in the woods. I had no idea it would change my life in so many significant ways. Thanks to those of you who stop by now and then; it’s always more fun to have an audience! Five more years, shall we?
I’m always happy to spend time with my buddy Mugsy and I seem to bring out the puppy in her, too. She has her elderly moments, but is almost always excited to greet me with slobbering kisses and tail wagging and a little rough housing. Of course, I spoil her a little (with her parents’ blessing) while I’m here.
I understand after they returned from the Mexico trip in February, they were made to feel a little villainous when they had to announce that while they were perfectly happy with her sleeping in the bed when Uncle Greg was here, it wasn’t something that was going to continue the rest of the time.
Well, until this week, when I returned and she happily snuggles up to me each night. The other evening, Mugs led me on a walk around her neighborhood. We couldn’t have been less interested, either of us, in doing so back in the winter, but this week, it’s quite a lovely place to explore.
You might recall a few weeks back there was some concern that all the daffodils were going to have bloomed and gone by the time the Brewster in Bloom festival (this weekend) was scheduled. And that’s true, most of the daffs have done their little dance and for all but the latest varieties, their flowerheads have faded. We’ll have to wait for next spring to see such a golden show again. But for the weekend’s festivities this year, we have crab apple trees, dogwoods, primroses, tulips and here’s the big surprise (we all agree they are a couple weeks ahead of schedule, to be blooming on May Day) lilacs!!
It occurs to me that much of this gardening blogging business is about my wishing that I could convey sweet fragrances and natural perfumes to you via the internet, since this time of year especially, it’s such a big part of the whole garden experience. Even in the cool evenings, the scent of the crab apples or the lilacs is just heavenly drifting on the breeze.
Of course, I’ve filled a couple of vases with lilacs for the fireplace mantle. Past years have taught me that our Lilac Moments are all too brief and there’s simply no reason to delay bringing some indoors to sweeten our lives (Be sure to mash those woody stems with the bottom of a glass or a hammer or a rock or something, so they’ll take water and last a smidge longer).
Mugsy’s Mom has been excitedly watching her English bluebells, which she’s planted in the backyard and been nurturing for a little while. They are poised to put on a nice show this year, so Murphy’s Law dictates that it turned out they would be away on their hiking adventure in BC when that show got underway. So I’ve also been charged with enjoying that show (‘tis a lot they ask of me, I know, but I try to bear the burden as cheerily as I can…heh) and if possible, get a few photos of them. They get some lovely early and late sun, which makes for lovely photos, so you’ll be seeing more of this gang as the week progresses.
It sure is a treat to be spending more time in Brewster at this time of year. The trees along Route 6A – the parade route for this afternoon’s Brewster in Bloom parade – have recently leafing out to form the fresh green canopies for which the town is known. I just love that crisp bright green of new leaves, full of hope and perfect promise for the season ahead. Without fail, as the days pass, one tree will show a brown branch of advancing age, or damage from some caterpillar horde, leaf blight from too much rain, lightning strikes or wind damage from summer storms, or dull autumn colors from too little rain.
But for now, they’re all delightfully, hope-fully Green.
It’s a pretty town, that’s for sure. I love this view of the old grist mill. This glassy pond (which extends out behind the bridge where I was standing to take this photo) is the destination for the herrings the gulls have been waiting for. You’d never guess that just a few feet beyond the mill, great dramas ensue.
I showed you the anticipation and expectation a little while ago, and I’ve been eager to return to the herring run for another look. I’d heard from Mugsy’s Dad that the run had been thick with fish a couple of days after my last visit, but last evening was my first chance to return when I was also able to find a place to park in the limited spaces available there (there was a apparently a wedding there early in the day). I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s really sort of hard to capture just how it all goes with my trusty little Olympus, it happens that fast. And there aren’t as many fish passing through as there were last week, either. The water is moving fast down the hillside and it’s deep with all the April Showers and such. One bank is very muddy and there’s lots of bird poop. Because there’s lots of birds. And they’re hungry.
I’m not sure I realized how big the herring are, but they are pretty good-sized, I’d guess from my brief glimpses six to eight inches (but then, this is the internet, so I may just be over-selling…). Every now and then you can spot a couple wriggling through the rushing water, and of course, so do the gulls.
There’s a lot of screeching at one another, and flying intimidation games to get the good spots. That was going on even before the fish showed up. You know, that whole selfish and entitled Gull Thing. Mine? Mostly they sit there on the banks, or on the stone and concrete gates that make the pools down the hillside, their heads bobbing and swaying as they watch the water and make false starting darts forward when they think they see something in the frothy water.
Suddenly, one of them lunges, going headfirst into the water, and comes up with a fish. Gooney goo goo. Sometimes the fish wriggles free and dives down into the water and goes on into the shadows or up the falls into the next level. Other times, the gull sort of flips the fish around and tilts its head back, taking the fish headfirst and in a single gulp. It’s fascinating to watch, and I just try not to think too much about the fish that’s now still alive wriggling around inside the bird, or imagining what that must feel like.
No wonder gulls are so cranky. And like french fries.
There’s a deep fall of water at the top of this Gamut of Gulls, where the water cascades out of the deeper channel of water that passes beneath the road to the millpond on the other side of the street, at the top of the hill. There seem to be almost no gulls on that side of the road, as they must know the deeper waters there won’t allow them fishing like this.
As I stand on the bridge that crosses the falls, I see a herring launch itself against the torrent, flying under water and making it to the relative safety of the pond. You want to cheer and wonder if the fish breathes a great sigh of relief at having made it past the hungry hordes. All that so it can lay some eggs and die. But I’m not pretending to be Marlon Perkins (or – ughh- Oprah Winfrey), so I’ll send you off here for some better information about the herring lifecycle and for a little more historical context here.
It’s pretty cool stuff.