Spring Drags her Feet

b chionodoxaIt’s been wet, cold, and windy, and my bulbs and flowering trees are a good two weeks behind schedule. The chionodoxa are coming out but the daffodils, even the early varieties, are holding back.

b indoor tomatoI did scrounge up bigger pots for the seedling tomatoes upstairs, giving them all room to stretch their toes indoors while it warms up outside. Downstairs, the Cobra greenhouse tomatoes are just starting to get that little sheen that comes before ripening.

b deer yummiesWhile I was rearranging seedlings in the upstairs window, I looked down on what appeared to be off-season practice for Santa’s sled-pullers. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but they’re on the edge of a swale along the roadside. What they found there was either extra delicious or the only thing growing yet, because they stayed at it until an approaching car made them scatter. At which point they all ran in different directions, including straight at the car, which fortunately did not veer into the swale. Once they were gone I went out to see what the Deer Yummy was, so I could avoid planting any of it. Moss.

b sundialIt was drier and more pleasant outside today. We set up my sundial on the new plinth Doug made for it. You can’t use a watch to set up your sundial, especially not in Ann Arbor, which sits well to the west in its time zone. Clock time jumps an entire hour every 1000 miles or so, but the sun doesn’t hop like that. It’s on a nice, smooth roll (or rather, the turning earth is). Then there’s Daylight Savings time, which means nothing to a sundial. You need to line up the gnomon on a sundial with true north, which is not the same as magnetic north. You can get true north by pointing at the North Star, but not in the afternoon. You can put a plant stake in the ground, watch for its shadow to show the sun directly overhead, and line up your sundial for noon. Neither of these methods work on a day full of dancing clouds. So I hover with my watch, and in a fleeting flash of sunlight  subtract about 40 minutes for the time zone and another hour to get back to Standard Time, and twist the sundial into agreement. Will have to consult with stars and shadows when the weather clears up.

b forsythia and dark skyMeanwhile, I realized that my forsythia was blooming while mostly obscured by the plumes of last summer’s zebra grass. Since native solitary bees hibernate in the tall stalks of the grass, I don’t cut them down until a few things are flowering for the bees. Doug came out with the electric hedge trimmer and gave the zebra grass a buzzcut. I spread the fallen stalks around, unchopped, in case any bees were sleeping late. The forsythia was gorgeous against the moody sky.

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