What's Bloomin' at the Bird House?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ah spring, when a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love....

Or, in my case, heirloom tomatoes.

With all due respects to the great poet that is Alfred Lord Tennyson and my dear wife, that "young man" age went out with the 1963 Dodge Dart (starburst-neon green Dodge Dart I might add), my Foreigner casette tape of "Double Vision" (Hot Blooded, check it and see) and my acid-washed jeans.

Actually, I still have those jeans somewhere. Lord knows they don't fit anymore. Nor would anyone want them to fit.

I guess the point that I'm trying to make here is -- as you grow older -- you begin to appreciate what the spring season really means. There was a time in my life where winter -- and cold weather -- was "all that." Not anymore. I just don't like it when it's 33 and foggy outside. Give me sunshine. Give me warmth. And give me a show of daffodils and tulips blooming in the front yard.

Venus planted these daffodils during the first fall at the new home in North Natomas. And -- true to that lady's green thumb -- they came up again this year. As a matter of fact, every tulip and daffodil bulb she planted at the old home continues to sprout -- and each year those numbers grow as the bulbs grow, and then split into new bulbs.

But the most exciting part of spring -- to me that is -- is to watch the dormant, dead looking fruit trees suddenly spring to life. That happened about three weeks ago for this O'Henry Peach tree in the backyard. This is just the second year for this tree -- and you can barely see the bark on the branches through all of the pink peach blossoms. And the smell is -- well -- heavenly.

This is truly an exciting moment for me. This small tree produced perhaps ten to 12 blossoms last year -- its first in the backyard. And now? It's just covered with blossoms. This is one reason why Venus and I took the extra step of purchasing a hive of bees -- and one of my biggest concerns about the new yard.

Despite the number of blooms on just this one tree -- I haven't seen one single, solitary bee. Now, while it's true that peach trees don't necessarily need bees to pollinate, who are we kidding? Imagine this one tree full of bees. Then, imagine this one tree full of young peaches. It doesn't take much to take that next step. We will get peaches off this tree this year -- but not nearly as much as I was hoping for.

But the O'Henry peach isn't the only tree blooming in the front and backyard this pre-spring season. So is another peach variety called June Pride (Can you guess that perhaps I like peaches?). True to its name, the June Pride is designed to deliver a peach harvest in late June and early July. The O'Henry Peach will deliver its crop in late July and early August.

This means three solid months of peach harvests, which I can't argue with.

Venus and I purchased the June Pride and the O'Henry trees last February from Silverado Nursery. And although we planted before the spring bloom hit, the June Pride failed to deliver a single bloom -- which means it failed to deliver a single peach. As you can probably tell by the photo to your right, I'm hoping that won't be a problem this year. This photo is two weeks old and now the June Pride, much like the O'Henry, is covered with scads of pink blossoms.

But this isn't the only blooming thing taking place in our North Natomas backyard. This one single bloom (it's blurry -- I'm not great with a digital camera -- so sue me)? This belongs to the Lapin Cherry tree -- which the wife and I also purchased -- and planted -- last February. And this represents the very first cherry blossom this tree has produced. It will be the first of many, as I see shades of white about to burst out all over this tree.

Does this mean cherries are in our immediate backyard future? Tough to say. The Lapin is also known as a "self-fruiting Bing," which means it doesn't require another cherry tree to pollinate. It does have one nearby in the form of a Royal Ranier cherry tree (purchased this year), but it doesn't need it.

Still -- blossoms don't necessarily translate into fruit production. It's a good sign, of course, but I sure would feel better if some lonely beehive would discover our backyard.

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

A Prayer in Spring
Robert Frost (1915)

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