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Springing Forward

A fresh week is poised to begin, complete with the switch to daylight savings time. Spring is only six days away, but not that one could tell by the weather: forecast for the overnight is twelve tonight and fifteen tomorrow night. Of course, this is just a fleeting cold snap and temps will rebound back to more seasonable temps quickly.

I think the only medical objective this week is my second dose of vaccine on Friday, which is nice. I should interject a point of order here; I am a rather private person and yet I am nearly fully transparent in these ramblings of mine, to the point where some folks have wondered why am I so open about all these medical things. The reason is simple: I am trying to represent life as I’ve seen it and experienced it, mostly in hope that someone not quite as far along life’s path as I, might learn a trick or two or may catch a glimpse of what they might expect a few miles more down the trail. This is especially true with medical issues; if what I go through can help someone be better prepared for their turn, that will be a good thing.

I truly hope that after the biopsy next week, that I can stop talking about my prostate, at least for a while! But I will provide as many details as feels appropriate concerning the big “B”, again in hopes that someone else will gain insight into what they may have to go through in five or ten or fifteen years. And if you are at all uncomfortable in reading about this, please know two things: I generally never dwell on any one topic in a post so if you can just move down a couple of paragraphs I think you’ll find the subject will have changed. And secondly, please feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email to let me know.

The sure sign of impending spring, wood frogs from last week notwithstanding, is that the crocuses are up and in bloom; a scant display of white blossoms and purple blossoms so far, but the first few are the certain harbinger of the many yet to follow. And once the crocuses are up, the rest of the various flowers will follow in succession, with the daffodils next up, their shoots already as tall as six inches in some cases. Following the flora through the seasons becomes more and more enticing every year to me.

Above all else though, I treasure the iris. I’ve written of them in the past several times. I call them the lollipop flower to my grandkids because they smell just so darned good!! They grow tall and their flowers can be white, yellow, mixed, or my favorite purple. They are simultaneously fragile and delicate, and strong and elegant. They appear in June, at least in our yard and their fragrant beauty is far too short-lived.

Speaking of our yard, the changes to it over the last seven years or so is incredible. It began when I had to install a fence along the property line on the south side due to an intrusive renter in the house next door. There was no clear boundary between us and it was mostly wetland, poison ivy, bull briars, and rocks; completely unusable. But he kept cutting and clearing trying to carve himself out a place to put stuff until I became convinced that he must be on my land. So, I had it surveyed and found out that I owned far more land along that property line than I ever knew; at least 50-70’ more.

It was still quite nonfunctional at that point, but then when we had to install the new septic system, all that changed. In order to provide adequate drainage in low-lying wetlands, they had to bring in truckloads of dirt, raising the land level up over six feet. And that ended up giving us almost 100’ of additional useable yard on the side of the property. Now, instead of the wide, wet, and overgrown tract of land, the only thing left along the fence line is around four feet of a gully which provides drainage out to the back of the yard where the elevation remains low.

The next big change was the attack of the gypsy moths, which I have written of often in the past. They ravaged my oak trees, killing 14 or 15 massive old oaks over two seasons. And the hole they left with the loss of their immense canopies is still revealing itself. There are probably six or seven dead oaks still standing, slowly decaying and dropping their limbs, left up because they are not a threat to the house (and also because I hate to take then down and open up even more of the back woods). And as happens, life under the canopy has to adapt. More sunlight than they’ve seen in decades causes some to spread their branches and flourish, while others withered and died off. The whole back woods is changing, a process that will likely continue past my lifetime.

I value our privacy and since the back became more accessible and useable to us, I have been extremely careful and selective with anything I do back there, especially knowing it is already trying to adapt to the loss of the huge oaks. I have made paths for walking and for riding the quad, I cleared a really large area for a vegetable garden last year, and at the same time have fought to maintain the natural screening and privacy of the assorted bushes and trees already in place. I plant new growth carefully, selecting bushes and trees that meet my long list of criteria. They need to grow quickly, but only to 6’-8’ high and wide. They need to be evergreen so as to afford privacy year-round. They need to tolerant to the frigid temps and biting winds of winter while also tolerant to the heat and droughts of summer. They need to be deer-resistant, meaning that the deer won’t feed on them in winter and kill them.

While I have bought and planted “external” foliage, meaning plants that are not growing in my yard now, that was on a risk basis – a calculated risk but still a risk. The best way to mitigate that risk is to plant more of what is already growing in the yard, this because the species has demonstrated the ability to survive and thrive in this specific environment.

And for us, it is high bush blueberries. They are found all throughout RI forests and are found all through our yard. They grow to 6’-8 and get maybe 4’-6’ wide and they provide fabulous privacy with their abundance of leaves; and they bear fruit. The only drawback is that they are not evergreens and lose all their leaves and our privacy with it. But for at least the majority of time we are outdoors in the yard, they are nearly perfect. So next up on the spring agenda is somewhere around ten or twelve new blueberry bushes, hopefully to be delivered in the 4’-5’ high range. More to come on that.

They opened up a precious few number of vaccine appointments today and happily I was able to grab one for my wife. I go for my second in three days and she’ll get her first in a little less than two weeks. Then another three weeks to her second and we’re done; for now anyway. I assume there may well be  a booster dose required in the fall, and if so – that’s fine. Just anxious to get this done and behind us! Hoping you have also gotten, or are scheduled, for yours dear reader! Stay well!!

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