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Equal Light and Dark

Vernal Equinox:  When the sun crosses the plane of Earth’s equator, making night and day, dark and light, of equal lengths all over the planet. Pretty cool.

It’s coming. This week.  Whether you’re a purist or you follow the calendar determines whether you recognize this on March 20 or 21 this year, in terms of celebration, that is.  If you really want to see which is accurate, well, I guess you’d need 24 free hours in which to time the exact length of dark and light.  Or you can just look at the online listings for sunrise and sunset in your part of the world.  That should give you a clue which day it really takes place.  

Regardless of which day it is exactly, spring is already apparent here on the bayou.  Although, my pecan tree has not yet budded, (a sure sign of spring), any day now, I’m

Photo courtesy of Betty Berard.

sure it will.  Down here, it’s safe to plant all your above-ground vegetables after the first day of spring.  There’s not supposed to be any more cold weather after that.  I’m thinking, though, that cold is a relative term.  Last Tuesday, 43 degrees was pretty darn cold out on the water while getting the nest boxes ready for this mating season’s immigration of prothonotary warblers.

It will be exciting to see if any of the mama birds or female baby birds return to the same boxes to nest this year.  I wonder if they’ll have a big discussion about who gets the box?  Mama or daughter?  My guess is it will be whichever gets to the box first.  We did hear one male prothonotary call while we were working, and one box out of 49 had a tiny new bit of nesting material, the beginning of the nest the male sets up in preparation for his mate’s arrival.  One box housed that beautiful wren’s nest and five eggs.  We’ll be out again this week to check all 50 boxes to see if there’s more nesting material inside them.

Everything down here seemed to green up and bloom overnight.  Every year, the burst of spring amazes me.  I guess after a long, cold, lazy winter, the brilliance and vivaciousness of spring shocks me awake and into action, as though I’ve slept all winter.  It leaps right out at me, catching me by surprise every March, which truthfully never gets old.

This winter, my back, back yard is covered in thistle.  There are probably close to 50 species of thistle in the US, but I think I’ve narrowed these down to Spiny Thistle.  Man, oh man, are they prickly.  I’ll never forget the first time, some 40 years ago, when The Captain chopped the spiny leaves off the stem with a machete, then chopped off the stem, and cut off a piece and chewed it up. Of course, he offered me a piece, and I thought he was crazy!  It’s a great substitute for celery, did you know that?  The stem can be eaten raw or cooked, while the leaves and roots are best when cooked.  Just one more wild thing down here to add to the natural bounty of table fare.  I guess thistles have been around forever, but this is the first time I’ve observed them up close and personal.  Four things I learned:

Bumble bees and honey bees share thistle flowers  (click to enlarge images)

Leaf-footed bugs like thistle flowers

Sometimes, all three share a flower

Butterflies like thistle flowers

I don’t know my butterflies, but there were three like this flitting around the pink thistle heads the entire time I was out there.  They sure do expend a lot of energy flitting around, from flower to flower, not staying long at any one flower, while the other bugs just sat there lazily, drinking their fill.  I called these butterflies, Mother, Grandmother, and Grandmother Vi.  Doing so made me remember so many spring Sunday afternoons playing in my grandmother’s yard while her irises bloomed; and oh the wisteria!! What a dreamy fragrance.

I’m curious to know what you’ve observed in your springtime neck of the woods, bayou, city.  Take a minute and share with us, won’t you?  If you landed here from Facebook, I would LOVE it if you would leave a comment below, and then sign up to subscribe to my blog.  It’s FREE!  And sometimes we give away prizes!

Springing ahead,

BW

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8 Comments

  1. Thistle flowers just before they open, remind me of artichokes. Your butterflies look like Monarchs. We had to mow our yard this weekend. The vetch, dandelions, grass burrs and every other weed around has tried to take over. Hubby can’t use his left arm much until therapy is all finished so, he took the riding mower while trimmed hedges. The riding mower said NOPE! No Way! and promptly quit. We think trash in carb. So, the push mower was it. I mowed a bit and rested while hubby mowed one or two passes using one arm. Took us all afternoon to do the front and sides but, it is done. 🙂 The back gets to grow until after the Easter Egg Hunt/Crawfish Boil on Easter Sunday.

    The plum tree has gone from a giant snowball of blooms to thousand of tiny plums and leaves. The rose bushes are getting buds on them, my iris are growing but mine are late bloomers while the neighbor behind me has gorgeous white blooms already. My day lilies are sprouting and so are the widows tears. My paper whites were fabulous this year and my garden is full of weeds. But, the amaryllis, garlic, oregano, mint and opal basil are mixed in with those weeds. 🙂 It is so hard to believe it is already spring even if the temperature is in the 80s. But, it is so beautiful when I look out the door and see all the fresh greenery and early blooming plants. Even if I am sneezing while I do it.

    1. Oh, I love hearing all about your flowers, herbs, trees! I forgot to mention that I lost all my potted flowers, plants to the freeze. I’ve since repotted about 20 pots! Only thing I haven’t yet replaced were my two Cajun Hibiscus. I planted three tomato plants yesterday. Hope they do well!

  2. Wendy, I need your advice. We are having our crawfish boil Easter but, I have to pickup my crawfish Saturday and I need to know how to keep them alive until Sunday. Normally we have the boil on a Saturday so no problems. I have a garage w/fridge but, hate to have it smell like crawfish forever. I also have a Rubbermaid container without a lid, that we always use to rinse and clean them in prior to boiling. They will arrive in a net bag that will be in a box. The grocery store keeps them in a cooler until we pick them up.
    Please give me some advice. We do have a LOT of neighborhood cats. Thank you.

    1. This is a tough one because we’ve never tried to keep them overnight. I hate to tell you but they probably need to go in the spare frig. You’ll just have to wipe it out after and put lots of baking soda on plates in top and bottom sections to take away odor. Your only other option is to put ice in the bottom of a cooler, leave the drain plug open, and then lay plastic over the top of the sack and another layer of ice. Ask the market selling them to you if that will work. Sounds like y’all will have a grand time on Easter!!! Or maybe a bag of ice on bottom and a bag of ice on top, that way the ice water doesn’t leak out at all. Just be sure you leave the drain plug open.

  3. I look forward to the dogwood blooming most of all. I remember seeing it throughout the woods going to the Farm to see Ree and Grandpa Orr. Your grandmothers yard was always lovely in the spring. She was such a lovely lady. Have a great spring, Wendy!!

    1. Dogwood are beautiful – not too many around here, though. The azaleas are almost finished down here already! The La. irises are just blooming. Thank you for the kind words about Grandmother Vi! I am having a great spring, as I hope you do as well. Be healthy, Pam!

  4. Looks like we’ll have Satsumas this year! Yea! As you know last year was a bust. The tree I’d full of blooms. We also have a lot of clover. The bees are happily buzzing around.

    1. Good for y’all! I purchased a dwarf lemon and planted in a huge pot. I hope it thrives! Yep, lots of clover here, too. Someone within a mile or so of you must have bee hives, because as you know, there aren’t many wild bees left.

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