Tag Archives: dodonaea

Candles and flowers for Pascha.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death,
and upon those in the tombs bestowing Life!

The last several days have been kind of a blur. We Orthodox were “in Jerusalem,” our rector kept reminding us, following Christ step by step from the day He was acclaimed and lauded with hosannas, on through His last meal with those men closest to him, His prayer in Gethsemane, betrayal by Judas, a farce of a trial… and on to the cross on which He offered Himself for our sakes. Every day of Holy Week we had at least two holy and liturgically rich services, sometimes three.

This year I was able to participate in these beautiful and moving services more than ever before, and to feel the continuity of them, at the same time seeing afresh how each is unique. This was the first time I thought, after Vespers on Holy Friday, “Oh, I must try to come tonight again, for Matins of Holy Saturday, because there will be the reading from Ezekiel about the dry bones, which in the whole year I can only hear tonight.” And stronger still was the need to be with family whose Beloved was suffering; how could I think of resting at that point?

But we did all occasionally have to go home for sleep or to eat a bite and many people of course must work or attend school. So between my car and my front door I would take a picture, and when I went out in back between rain showers to get some more firewood I took some more. I am in love with the new fig leaves and miniature knobs of fruits.

Saturday we gathered at 11:30, under clear skies; at midnight we streamed slowly out of the church with singing, and came back to the porch to hear, “He is risen! Why seek ye the living among the dead? Christ is a stranger to corruption!” I took some pictures that are blurry, but I guess that’s appropriate. I was so sleepy, my mind was a bit foggy, too, in a happy daze.

Children slept in a jumble of blankets on the floor, or played with the melting beeswax of their candles. Adults like me are often seen playing with their candles, too! Before the service started I sat on a bench along the wall and kept putting my unlit candle to my nose to drink the heady honey scent.

I had an extra friend from church stay here for a few days to reduce her driving time. She brought me pale pink tulips, so lovely. And Trader Joe’s had stock in other perfectly Paschal-Spring colors, from which I made my first stock bouquet ever. In the garden are dozens of calla lilies that I will bring in tomorrow.

We returned for Paschal Vespers on Sunday afternoon (So strange to sleep, and then eat breakfast on a Sunday morning!) and then a BBQ and picnic. And this morning the radiant Bright Monday service, processing with decorated Artos bread. The weather has been perfect for the last two or three days, but more rain is coming. What a blessing all that rain is; and I’m glad I don’t live where it snows at this time. But even there, it would be springtime in our hearts.

By Thy Cross, Thou didst destroy the curse of the tree.
By Thy burial Thou didst slay the dominion of death.
By Thy uprising, Thou didst enlighten the race of man.
O Benefactor, Christ our God, glory to Thee!

Water, watercress, and catsear.

Dandelions and false dandelions – Over the last couple of years the false kind, or catsear, Hypochaeris radicata L., has flourished in dead or dying lawns in our town. Many people have let their lawns go, because of the drought, and there’s no recovering them now just because the winter was wet.

The catsear is prettier, I think, because the flowers are on long stems that wave in the breeze. I had them before my re-landscaping project began, and several of my neighbors still have them in abundance; here I am showing Ray’s place, as good as it ever looks, because he never does anything but mow once or twice a year….

And below, Vera’s front yard. Unlike Ray, Vera likes to garden, and she gave me my aloe saponaria start many years ago.

I never see real dandelions anymore. They must need more water, and the recent conditions are letting the catsear dominate.

I walk by this rose bush several times a week. It’s not cared for, and looks generally bad, but on this particular morning there was one rare perfect bloom proudly standing out from the mess.

The most interesting thing I’ve seen in a long time on my walks was two Asian women down at the creek gathering watercress.

And the prettiest thing was bees on Russian sage. I can’t resist trying to photograph one more bee on one more flower, especially if it is a pairing of insect and flower that I haven’t captured before. I was so happy on my walk this morning, I didn’t want it to end, so I changed my route to add a few more blocks, and that’s how I happened to see these bees.

 

Back in my own garden, more plants are blooming. Kim gave me hollyhock seeds three years ago, and I planted them in my new greenhouse last fall and transplanted them to a spot that I think must be too shady, because the plants are diminutive – but the first bloom is out!

 

 

When designing my backyard garden, we deliberately planted the salvia near the dodonea, to get this color contrast. It’s working right now!

Above: fig tree, mock orange, and sea holly.

I have two kinds of lamb’s ears: the old ones that were propagated from my old garden, and which are all sending up long flower spikes right now.

…and new ones bought at a nursery, which have broad leaves, more green, and may not flower much. Lots of people have told me that their lamb’s ears don’t. But one of them is sneaking out a flower, only to send it on to the sidewalk to risk a trampling.

June has brought warmer temperatures, and I hope to spend more time in the garden again. Yesterday my dear godmother came over and we did sit eating our ice cream where we could hear the bees humming and the see the goldfinches at the feeder.

And we could smell the sweet peas! I ended up picking four bouquets of them yesterday, including one to send home with her. I also had to trim back some of the stems to keep them from squishing the pole beans. So this may be the peak of the bloom. There’s not much room for me to grow anything else just yet, because it’s the Year of the Sweet Peas!

The calendula lasts longer than this moment.

hopbush may 2016 close
Hopbush – dodonaea purpurea – right now

 

What a strange day… starting with a strange night, during which I was awake for four hours. What? At first I tried to pray and go back to sleep at the same time, but after an hour or so of that I switched on the light and sat in bed writing in my journal. I didn’t turn on my phone – yay for me! But if I had I might have been able to talk with my dear cousin who was wishing from the East Coast that she could talk to me, as she wrote, “I wish you were not still asleep.” Little did she guess that I was not.

P1040490
Mexican Bush Sage

 

 

 

Eventually I slept a little more, and got up late. Today is sunnier than in a long time, and I noticed out the window the hopbushes that line the fences, also looking brighter than ever decked in their flowers. I took my lunch outside to eat under the umbrella, with my back out of the shady area and baking, but as in a very slow oven, so I remained in place.

I conversed with friends blog-style about moments and fleeting time and what happens to those moments: Are they like the picture Annie Dillard paints in words for us, “…a freely given canvas… constantly being ripped apart and washed downstream….” ? The violence of her image doesn’t set well with me now, but just a few months ago its tone would have matched what I was feeling, not about a moment but about the entire lifetime of my husband.

Now here I am, in a lovely moment, a warm and springy afternoon with birds and insects crossing paths in the  air around me. The bird bath has water in it and the towhees are taking advantage of that — or is it just one towhee who has a daily bath, and a long one at that? He splashes around for about five minutes while I watch and wait from the kitchen window, because I know that when he’s satisfied I will need to refill the bowl.

Near the birdbath is one of my two remaining Mexican Bush Sage plants. The old one at which I used to watch hummingbirds out my window for several months of the year was dug up and divided into six plants. The one we transplanted into the new garden died, and the others spent the winter in pots, three of which I gave away on Freecycle this week. I always forget until I get up close, how furry the flowers of this plant are.

Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit May 2016
echinacea – Cheyenne Spirit

And the echinacea are already blooming. At this time I have six of this variety, but no traditional purple ones. I was planning to buy a purple one to replace one that was eaten by snails, but didn’t find one anywhere.

As I bask in this moment of an hour or more I am writing, yes, because that is what I do with many of my moments and minutes and hours. It isn’t often that I am enjoying a space other than my computer corner while I write, but today I’ve written in two other places. Because I took the trouble to move myself out here to the spot in my garden where I have the wide view of everything from Margarita Manzanita to the bird feeders to the greenhouse, my moment seems to expand into deliciousness. And this isn’t the time to wonder where it has gone, poof!

P1040475

 

I was planning to sit out here and read this book that I haven’t given up on by any means, but have been neglecting. Then I looked aside and saw the first calendula flower, and this is what happened. But now I will get down to business.

 

 

Solar Flashback calendula May2016
calendula – Solar Flashback