Snow and Tulips

b squirrelstepsThis morning I opened the front door to this. That was one busy squirrel, and I have no idea what he was after. No nuts, no berries, no breadcrumbs or birdseed. Was it warm, being near the house? But it doesn’t look like he rested, or even stopped. Was that two busy squirrels, chasing each other? I’d opened the door in order to sweep the snow off the steps, but this was too amusing to mess with and I didn’t plan to go out right then, so I left it.

Next time I opened the door, fresh snow had covered the tracks. A great, big coming alongsnowstorm moved in this afternoon, predicted to pile up deep and opulent by morning, delicate enough to make humble objects ethereal, powerful enough to stop traffic. What a lovely background for my array of potted bulbs on the windowsill.

b coming along moreThe first round of tulips has already bloomed and faded, the second pot is going strong, and a little further down the shelf the Apricot Beauties prepare for their star turn. The paperwhites stick their small green snouts up, testing the air, and the amaryllis stick their necks out, some a little more, some a little less.

Glancing at one of the new bloomers, I thought there was a bug on it. Close examination revealed that the odd little extra wing was part of the petal. Imagine if you were a too tulipDutch tulip breeder edging into the tulipmania of 1636. Might you cross this with a fringed tulip, or a ruffly one, for an even more elaborate effect? Would you make a fortune (quick, before the market collapsed) with a new variety? This made me realize I don’t know anyone who ever raised a tulip from seed. This, naturally, led me to the googly discovery that growing tulips from seed is “laborious and won’t yield a flower for at least seven years” (Thank you Jann Seal on SFGate). Also, tulips bear their seeds in pods. Why have I never noticed a tulip pod? Probably because I cut the stems back once the flower is clearly falling apart. So, here’s a new project. I will let at least some of those spent blooms stand, and maybe next month I can show you a tulip seed pod. And if the snowstorm lives up to its billing, maybe I’ll have a nice snowman for you, too.

Written in Snow

snowyMichigan snow continues to amaze me. It’s fluffy. You can sweep it off the doorstep. Where I grew up on Long Island, snow had to be removed with an ice axe. I exaggerate, but not by much. I take my broom to the snow here and whoosh it lightly, like fairy dust, off the steps, onto the flowerbeds on either side. Here you go, lamium; here’s some for you, ceratostigma. More blanket. Sleep well.

It’s also a wonderful traffic map. I sleep past the morning scavenging of thesnow tracks deer, but they leave a record for me: the allure of standing seedheads in the herb garden; the shelter they found under pine trees. The woodchuck, heavy and low to the ground, hasn’t waited for her official day but has waddled a wake into the snow, emerging from under the deck and steering for the woods, or vice versa. I can’t read her signs well enough, yet, to tell the direction.

snow tracksAnd what kind of critter do you think made this deep, purposeful, extremely straight-lined track from the road to my front door? Too early for my garden orders to be delivered. Must have been something for Doug.

The tulip bulbs that arrived last fall have spent a few months in pots in the cold garage, and are ready for warmth and sunlight. I bring them in a few at a time, so they’ll bloom in waves. The paperwhites that were resting in their bag in my closet have been potted up now, too. The amaryllis that were lifted to a dry winter in an indoor basket after spending their summer on the shady part of the deck, are back in the dirt now, stretching. I will give progress reports. Here’s the first one.