Friday, March 29, 2013

Andromeda's Day.

3-29-13 SHORT HILLS: We have had several cookie-cutter days with some sun, moderate breeze and temps in the fifties.

After a walk around the yard, I saw robins active in the driveway junipers and decided to prune them now, rather than when the birds had an active nest. A few snips and a bit of sawing later, I had a small pile of snow/plow damaged branches which we took to the dump. It wasn’t too difficult even in the boot.

There was a red-winged blackbird at the feeder yesterday, traveling with the grackles, as usual.

New blooms: andromeda.

Andromeda is a broad leaf evergreen and an early bloomer that beats out forsythia.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


3-27-13 SHORT HILLS: The snowstorm delivered a quarter inch before turning to rain. No complaints here. Today we have 50°, a bit of a breeze, and occasional sun—a nice March day to be outside, even if one needs a cane and an orthopedic boot.

All the buds are a little bigger, and the Parade of the Flowers has started. Seemingly overnight several crocuses, ‘croci’ is also acceptable for Latin sticklers, have popped up in the yard. It’s so exciting.

New blooms: crocus.

Monday, March 25, 2013

More Snow.

3-25-13 SHORT HILLS: As I look out the window, I see more snow arriving, just when the last snow had almost completely melted. This March has seemed colder than usual, so I looked up the NOAA data for the month, so far, and it is 2.7 degrees below average with less than a week to go in the month.

Hobbling around the yard in my walking boot, I see lots of swelling buds—spirea, roses, hydrangea, even a few new leaves on the roses, spring perennials poking up—bleeding hearts, pulmonaria, iris and tree buds swelling. The plants respond to the lengthening photoperiod, and would also respond to warm days if there were any.

New blooms: red maple, snowflake.

Vinca minor, Creeping Myrtle, is an early bloomer that stays in bloom for several weeks.

Here it comes again, personally, I vote for no more snow this season.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sugar Season.

3-22-13 VERMONT: It gets warm in the afternoon now, and the sun is higher in the sky at midday. So, it’s spring here, it’s also mud season. The road has softened up again, and the ruts are back making the trip to town an adventure.

And it’s sugar season. Time to make the syrup. Our neighbors are tapping their trees and some of our trees to collect the sap to make the sugar.

Those silver buckets collect the sugar maple sap.

The sap is carried to the sugar shack where it is boiled on a wood fired stove until most of the water is removed, leaving a thick, sweet, brown syrup. That big cupola is opened up to let the steam out. The smoke goes up the chimney. When they're boilin', the shack is wreathed in a mist of smoke and steam. It takes 40 gallons of sap to get one gallon of syrup.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Somewhere It's Spring.

3-19-13 VERMONT: We came to Vermont yesterday with granddaughter Lucy for her vacation week. We got here a few hours ahead of the snow. The storm paused this morning after leaving us five inches of whiteness and then resumed after we ran our errands.

Spring starts tomorrow, but it doesn’t look like it here, except for the silver buckets hanging from the sugar maples. When we drove in the road was muddy and rutted, but now it has solidified with snow and ice.

I saw a big bird fly by and land in a birch tree early this morning. I think it was a red tailed hawk. Within a few minutes a bunch of crows landed in the same tree, apparently to intimidate the hawk, who left a little later. It seems too soon, but perhaps the crows are starting to nest.

New blooms: before we left NJ, there were snowdrops popping up all over and Vinca minor, next to the house, with purple flowers.

Red tailed hawk, I think, back view, with only a hint of red in the tail.

Hawk, frontal view with harassing crow.

Braving the storm.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I Get the Boot.

3-16-13 SHORT HILLS: The cast is off, and I’m in a walking boot, a padded, black, plastic, Velcro instrument that runs from my toes to knee and is basically a removable cast. I’m using the cane and not the walker. I got to wash the casted leg for the first time and was appalled by the calf muscle atrophy, lots of PT to be done somewhere in the future.

Here it’s cold, overcast and windy with snow showers predicted for the afternoon.

Judy has retired Nick, now ten years old, from further pet therapy. His arthritis makes the necessary activities difficult for him. He still wants to do it, but isn’t able.

Nick has joined the 47%.

Gus doing all the visits now.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Where'd You Go, Snow.

3-11-13 SHORT HILLS: It’s a full house date, and so deserves a post, even though it’s pouring. The snows of a few days ago are gone except for a couple of plow piles. Warm, longer afternoons did most of the job and this rain the rest.

DST has started, and it’s light to 7 PM. I like it, some people grumble about the change, but not me. I like being able to be outside, in daylight, after dinner.

The cast is supposed to come off on Friday, ta-da, and I go into a walking boot. I’m more than ready.

Daffodils are ready, too.

More or less the same scene as in the last post, but no snow.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Further Orthopedic Stories.

3-8-13 SHORT HILLS: It snowed last night and continued through the morning and into the afternoon. A predicted 1-3 inches ended up at about 8 inches of the heaviest and wettest snow, clinging to everything. This morning it was beautiful, but by afternoon had lost some of its charm, as it usually does.

We braved the snow to go for my cast change and staple removal. Getting in and out of the office meant hopping over slush and puddles. The ankle wound was said to be healing nicely, and a week from now the cast is supposed to come off in favor of a walking boot. Would you believe, I’m looking forward to that.

Outdoor seating is available now on our patio. That's a junco on the snow under the feeder on the right.

Subaru tracks in the snow.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Orthopedic Adventures.

3-3-13 SHORT HILLS: It’s been awhile, I know, sorry for the gap. And speaking of gaps, I had a torn Achilles tendon repaired a few days ago and am now quite immobile. My right leg is in a cast from the toes to the knee with the toes pointed downward. I hobble around with a walker clunking from room to room. The right toes are allowed to touch the floor but not bear weight so I have to hop, hop, hop, which is tiring.

At first, I was using crutches, but I was unsteady on them, almost falling over backwards one time. Crutches, when you sit down and lean them against the desk, immediately fling themselves on the floor behaving like petulant teens. Picking them up, or anything else on the floor, with a cast on requires a balletic move I call an orthopedic arabesque. The walker, when you sit somewhere, stands obediently at attention just as you left it.

Other pieces of gear I have discovered include a shower chair, a cast cover that one puts on before putting themselves on the shower chair, a basket I tied to the walker for anything I need to carry. With two hands on the walker, you can’t carry a pencil unless it goes in a pocket, or the basket.

In two weeks I come out of the cast, hopefully, and move to the next cocoon, a hinged boot. The boot is adjusted to the angle that my foot makes with the floor, and it is cranked up every week until the tendon is stretched out. That process takes another six weeks or so and then, ta-da, I emerge like a butterfly to begin PT.

In case anyone forgot that this is a Garden Blog, let me say that I bought tomato and sweet corn seeds, anticipating a new gardening season in VT and a new, mobile Gardener.

March has occurred once again, on schedule, and the days are noticeably longer and the afternoon temps, in NJ, are in the forties.

The sun’s Geographic position back on February 21 was at about 12°S. latitude, overhead at Lima, Peru, where we were last month. By April 21, the sun will be overhead at Managua, Nicaragua, 12°N latitude. On March 21 the sun crosses the Equator, beginning the northern hemisphere summer. In that sixty day interval the sun’s geographic position moves through 24° of latitude as the earth tips from southern hemisphere facing the sun to northern hemisphere facing the sun.