Tag Archives: Hyacinth

The Spring Equinox (And Spring Has Actually, Finally Shown Her Face)

Hurray for the Spring Equinox!  It’s finally, officially Spring!  The ‘official’ Equinox occurred on Thursday, March 20th,  at 12:57 pm EST.  Our daylight length here where I live – 12 hours 10 minutes.  I love it!

But I knew ahead of time that spring was on its way.  How?  I SAW BEARS!!!  I did, I did!  I was driving back from delivering Saver of Bugs to school when I noticed some black blobs at the bottom of a tree in a fairly open area.  I did a double take and stared.   BEARS!!!   They were very close in size and not all that big so I figure they are last year’s cubs.  Momma must have been in the tree line.  Regretfully, I was driving on a main trucking route at speed.  Stopping for pictures would have put me on foot going back to get pictures at dusk.  Getting smooshed by a truck was not on my agenda.  Or as my son said, “Hit by a truck?! Seriously?!  How about EATEN by a freaking BEAR?!”  🙂

But back to Spring!  The following is a partial reblog from a post I did last year.  I just couldn’t think of anything more I wanted to add to this:

“…Once Upon A Time Long, Long Ago… when I was working horses and gardening and nature loving on a daily basis and was in tune with the seasons, this part of spring was expected and accepted. It was known as March Madness (and had nothing at all to do with basketball) or Spring Fever (and had nothing at all to do with big retail sales). This really hit me in the face since I have been struggling for several weeks now.

Between the lengthening days, more noticeable now, and the dramatic swings in the weather (that barometric pressure going up and down affects your body), animals and people alike are restless, moody, depressed and ecstatic all at the same time. Life can swoop from awful to wonderful from one step to another. It is just that time of year.

Those believing in Fairies say the upheaval is the passing of seasons from one Fairy Queen to the next.

Greek mythology talks of Demeter (in brief, Goddess of the Harvest), cursing the world and taking life from all growing things; when her daughter Persephone is taken to the underworld by Hades.  The deal to bring Persephone back is that for 4 months of the year she must return to the underworld.  During that time Demeter grieves and nothing grows.  Persephone’s return marks the beginning of spring.

Pagans and Witches have celebrated Ostara for hundreds of years (It’s the precursor to the Christian holiday of Easter).  This holiday is celebrated on the Spring Equinox when the hours of day and night are equal.  It is a celebration of rebirth as the world awakens from its winter sleep and “life” begins anew.

It’s all about Change.  From our seasonal sleep we are thrust fairly abruptly into our “awakening”.  There is a primal need, often unacknowledged by us humans, to take advantage of the cycle of growth, resulting in “March Madness” or “Spring Fever”.  When I was working on the farms, allowances were made for man and animal alike. “This too shall pass.” (Or in some cases, “Aw hell, it’s spring again.”)  In this “modern” civilization we forget that we, too, are creatures of Mother Earth and thus subject, to a certain extent, to her whims. We may forget our “roots” but our bodies don’t. We need to be patient with ourselves and others right now.  Acknowledge and accept the unsettled feelings as part of life’s cycles.  Remember that with this huge burst of Mother’s Earth’s creative energies, things are bound to be unstable for a while.  Just hold on tight!”

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The symbolic rebirth of Mother Earth after a long, hard, cold winter was supposed to be cold and nasty.  So I decided two days ago, with warm beautiful weather as company, to once again go looking for Spring outside.  I also decided it was time to start cleaning up out there and started by bringing the plants out of the garage.

Daffodils, weeks late, finally poking up through the grass!  YAY!

Daffodils, weeks late, finally poking up through the grass! YAY!

More Daffs in the garden!

More Daffs in the garden!

Mini Iris

Mini Iris

Hyacinth

Hyacinth

Buds on my small Amelanchier Laevis.

Buds on my small Amelanchier Laevis.

To save money, I grow a lot of things from seed and shop the clearance racks, especially at Lowe’s.  And life being what it can be not everything has made it into the ground.  The Dump (aka our garage) is too full for a car, so the back of the driveway is a convenient place for plants in pots.  This winter I put plants I knew wouldn’t survive outside in pots in the garage.  Unfortunately,  there were still a lot of pots in the driveway that had to deal with an unusually severe winter.

My mint survived it's winter in the garage and is starting to grow.

My mint survived it’s winter in the garage and is starting to grow.

And my Lemon Balm.

And my Lemon Balm.

The coreopsis on the left was in the garage.  The one on the right is still asleep.  Or dead!

The Coreopsis on the left was in the garage. The one on the right spent the winter in the driveway.  It is still asleep. Or dead!

But my Monarda in the driveway is still alive and awake!

But my Monarda in the driveway is still alive and awake!

So whether you celebrated the Spring Equinox on the actual Equinox or whether you celebrate on the calendar Equinox (the 21st), I wish you a happy beginning to your Spring!

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How Could I Forget The Iditarod? The Last Great Race On Earth

Random Thoughts

 How could I forget the Iditarod?  I have followed this annual dog sled race off and on since it began in 1973.  More on than off, but college, small kids, and cable TV issues interfered here and there.  Thank heavens for the internet.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Iditarod, The Last Great Race on Earth, here are some quickie facts:

  •  The Iditarod is run from Anchorage, Alaska (Which is actually the ceremonial start.  The official start is in Willow just outside Anchorage.) to Nome, Alaska.  The Iditarod is around 1000 miles.  It differs a little between the Northern Route (run in even years) and the Southern Route (run in odd years).
  •  More than 50 mushers enter each year.  Only experienced mushers can participate and must have completed three smaller races in order to qualify.  No one convicted of animal neglect is allowed to participate.  If the Iditarod Trail Committee feels a musher is unfit they will not be allowed to compete.  This holds true during the race.  Last year one musher was pulled because it was felt that a cut he got on his hand was too severe to allow him to continue.
  •  There are 26 checkpoints on the Northern Route and 27 checkpoints on the Southern Route.  All mushers must check in to these checkpoints in order.
  •  All mushers start the race with 16 dogs on the tow line.  With 66 teams this year that’s 1,056 dogs on the trail.  They must finish the race with no less than 6 dogs.
  •  Mushers are allowed to drop dogs at the various checkpoints but must check in with all the same dogs they left the previous checkpoint with.  If you lose a dog out on the trail, you’re done.  One musher has had to scratch so far this year because a dog got loose when a team in front of him stopped suddenly causing his dogs to bunch into a ball.  The dog got loose as he was untangling the lines and, spooked because of the mess, took off.  The owner has flown in to help catch her as she has been seen hanging around a nearby town.  It is the dog’s third Iditarod.  It has been reported that another dog is loose, but no word on whether it has been caught or if the musher has had to scratch yet.
  •  Vet checks are required for the dogs before the race and are also inspected when a musher stops to rest at the checkpoints.  Like with human athletes, no performance enhancing drugs are allowed.
  •  During the race the mushers are required to take one 24 hour layover anywhere on the trail, one 8 hour layover along the Yukon River (a difficult and often nasty portion of the race), and one 8 hour layover at White Mountain, just before the last hard haul into Nome.
  •  Dogs burn about 5,000 calories a day.  This along with the need for regular hydration means that the mushers must stop regularly along the trail to feed and water their dogs.  This entails building a fire and melting snow for water.  The mushers are required to carry a pot that holds no less than three gallons of water, but it still takes a serious chunk of time to get the dogs fed and watered.  Did you know you can burn snow?  You have to add water to the pot to avoid this.
  • The fastest winning time is 8 days, 18 hours, 46 min., 39 sec.
  •  In Nome, at the start of the race, a lantern known as the “Widow’s Lamp” is lit and hung on the Burled Arch. This lantern remains lit until the last musher arrives safely in Nome, which takes anywhere from 13 days to thirty.

Well, so much for a few facts.  I love this race and could go on and on.  Here are some links if you want to get caught up (the race will probably end on Tuesday).

The official website:  http://iditarod.com/race/?vid=22246   I like to read the news stories here as they often include local cultural and historical facts.  They also have some videos you can watch even if you haven’t paid to be an Insider.  The ones I recommend are “Run Dogs Run” just to see a bunch of dogs doing their thing and “DeeDee and Her Wild Ride” to hear one veteran woman musher’s account of a bad day.  I can’t get a link to each individual video so you have to scroll through the Insider Videos to get them.  DeeDee is under Trail Stories.

The second site is the Anchorage Daily News http://www.adn.com/iditarod/#   The articles are good as well, but I really love the daily photo montages.  Usually around 35 photos of life during the race that day.

I would really love to see Martin Buser win his 5th Iditarod, but his dogs caught a bug and aren’t moving as well.  Mitch Seavey was the first into Unalakleet today.  It was a comment on how bad the travel was that both he and Aaron Burmeister were running single leaders on their teams coming into Unalakleet. “What’s that?” you say.  When the going gets tough, the mushers put their tough guy lone wolf type leader on a single lead out in front of the rest of the dogs.  This is the dog that gets the job done and prefers doing it alone.  “Quit” isn’t in their vocabulary.  They not only help “marshal the troops”, so to speak, they also have to have an instinct for the trail.  Knowing the best line of travel and where the trail is in a white out situation is invaluable to the whole team.  It takes a lot out of them being out in front on their own, but when it’s nasty, that’s where they prefer to be.  A good lead dog is priceless.

Life At Our House

Yay!  Saver is home for Spring Break this year.  A special treat as there is a good chance she won’t be home for the summer again.

Play practice is continuing for Spider Bait.  He is playing John in “Peter Pan” this year.

Out In The Yard

Small Iris coming up.

Small Iris coming up.

The crocus are coming!

The crocus are coming!

Hyacinths are peeking!

Hyacinths are peeking!

A wee bonus of a volunteer Columbine.  I just hope it isn't anticipating spring's arrival.

A wee bonus of a volunteer Columbine. I just hope it isn’t anticipating spring’s arrival.

Crystals

They look pretty much the same as last time, so no comparison shots.  I can tell you trying to set this picture up was a bear because they are all nice and smooth and didn’t want to play nice with each other.  They are now in the polish cycle and should be out on Friday.  WooHoo!

This is what they look like when you open the tumbler.

This is what they look like when you open the tumbler.

Nice and clean.  Polish here we come!

Nice and clean. Polish here we come!

Mugs

Nuthatch

Nuthatch

Other side.  Lenox Winter Greetings Everyday

Other side. Lenox Winter Greetings Everyday

Hope everyone had a good weekend!