The brash, bouncy, blowsy-scented fellas had been doing really well
In fact, observing our neighbours' peonies, I would say that ours are the biggest in the county
They are gigantic - or they were
And the irises I forgot I planted in the front haven't been doing too badly either
Until yesterday that is when a huge storm blew in, the trees bending over like reeds. Monsoon-like rain came down in sheets and the the power went out - and came back just as we managed to get the generator going. In the morning we surveyed the scene. Several small branches down.
But it was worse for the neighbours. Hearing a loud beeping we went to look out on the lane. Heavy vehicles which looked suspiciously like snowploughs in summer gear were picking up fallen tree limbs
Which were shoved into a shredder. The wonders of modern technology.
And as for the poor old peonies, after a short but star-studded life, they had had their day and were but a mass of soggy petals on the grass, like melting snowmen. And the rain shows no sign of letting up.
Our squatters are now brazenly showing their faces. The crafty barn swallow found herself a nice nook. Of course we were away and by the time we got back, domestic arrangements were well underway.
Meanwhile Chipolata now presumptiously expects a peanut handout every time I go out on the porch.
Then out comes Chipster, disgruntled at being beaten to it and it usually ends in an acrimonious high speed chase around the woodpile, interspersed with choice expletives in their language. Chipolata is the one with the half-size tail. My American friends don't know what chipolatas are. Sad. I could just eat a couple now. Sausages, that is, not chipmunks.
I looked out of the back window on Tuesday morning to see a large, honey-coloured shape sniffing around the rhododendrons.
It was a huge, portly white tail deer but before I could get the camera she had scarpered. You'd better take a closer look at the rhododendron flowers..
Because I suspect they won't be there for long.
She was blatantly casing the joint. Meanwhile on the porch, someone was spotted jumping into the kindling box.
Again, too fast for the camera. There was a description though - the suspect was small and stripy. Meanwhile above the sitting room window...
More freeloading tenants. The usual suspects, barn swallows, no doubt took advantage of our few weeks' absence. They manage to sneak in each year, so we have to tiptoe around the porch until they deign to fly the nest.
But one good thing - it seems the slugs haven't started on the salvias yet.
Dateline: Cattaraugus County
Thank you, dear friends, for your patience. The blog is now back in Cattaraugus County, confronting the consequences of a few weeks of prime high speed weed growth. It will have its work cut out. But it's an interesting time too, checking what's growing and coming up. And was I surprised to see this fellow.
Yes the allium which failed to make an appearance last year (I think it was the one I originally planted upside down) had popped up this and was looking very dapper, trying not to notice the untidiness around it. A less happy story for the dahlia I carefully replanted and surrounded with slog pellets. Someone had apparently driven a motorbike through my attempted flower bed at the entrance to the drive and the dahlia was gone. I later found a bit of it lying on the surface, forlorn and beyond help. Or maybe it was the squirrels again.
It's the sort of situation where you just don't know where to start, so end up contemplating the enormity of the task and doing absolutely nothing. On the other hand you can always take a walk up the lane, where my friend the ginger cat at the top of the hill comes out to give me a lop-eared greeting and the forget-me-nots are flowering..
And the dame's rocket is in full swing
This seems to be a bumper year for dame's rocket
That pops up in batches of pink, purple and white only where it wants to. Digging it up and planting it in your garden, as hubby and I tried to do once, does not work.
But alas there was one sorry sight..
The banks of the stream that used to be a mass of forget-me-nots and other wildflowers have been scraped clean by the infernal town ditch- scraper whose one mission in life seems to be to make everything as ugly as possible. Too many are the times when he's ruined the roadside banks, covered in pretty burgeoning trees and bushes on his inexorable mission of destruction. No one's quite sure why he does it but unfortunately he seems to enjoy it.
In case you're still wondering about the picture of the Queen in the post below, I'll relieve your suspense*. You can't keep a good American enthusiasm down and would you believe it, our nearby town, Olean, in western New York, now has a British-themed cafe. Presumably this is to go with the new European-style roundabouts that have arrived in Union Street, terrifying the local populace. There are plenty of British touches in the cafe...
.....even though it's not actually run by British people. There's a huge selection of teas and a sweet English country cottage display on the mantelpiece.
My friend and I opted for the cream tea - scones, jam, the works and I was confidently told, "Devonshire cream". Well clotted cream it wasn't quite and the scones, being American-style, all had some sort of flavouring, blueberry, lemon, whatever - I don't think Americans would understand plain British ones. (Though American cuisine does have something called a "biscuit" which looks like a scone on steroids and is generally eaten with gravy). Anyway, I had a lemon one and it was pretty nice in its own way and the jam was very good. And we discovered another deft British touch:
So good luck to the Union Tea Cafe. (Which sounds like a contradiction in terms but never mind, this is America.) They are having a special event on the Fourth of July. I wonder what the Queen will think of that? *(And apologies for the perfunctory blogging this month - due to family and travel commitments. Things will be back to normal in June.)
I took an early morning walk up the lane again, after a long, long time. It still looked bare and wintery.
A woodpecker rat-tatted loudly and there was a cacophony of geese from the lake.
But looking closely at the verges, there was a treasure...
At first I thought they were dandelions but no ...
And tiny violets littered the grass
And the periwinkle/myrtle was blooming like crazy.
Usually I pilfer some for our garden but ours is holding its own now - in fact it's up and running. And look what happened to the drive that used to say "keep out"!
A new log house under way with a handsome stone chimney. Unlike many of the new houses around here, it doesn't look like a plastic prefab, thank goodness, but quite distinguished, like a ski chalet. And on some of the branches there's already a green mist.
Some interesting-looking appendages here.
And as the mist lifts over the hills and the sun breaks through, there are definite bobbles of green. Pretty soon, spring will race ahead, making up for lost time.
Back at base, the bulbs around the garden path are putting on a good show. I'm going to need to get the weeding muscles in trim.
I'll shortly be on my travels again and goodness knows what kind of jungle I'll find on my return. Well, on past experience I know very well. I did a perfunctory check for deer damage, especially the little fir tree that got eaten a couple of winters ago to within an inch of its life, just a tuft left on top, like a poodle's tail. Last autumn I swathed it in nets and stood back, confident. No self-respecting deer would even think of going near it. But yesterday I went to look. The good news: the deer hadn't touched it. The bad news: a tree had blown down in a winter storm and chopped it in half. You just can't win.
There has been much activity, too, in and around the woodpile, the next generation of Chippy, Chipster and Chipolata chasing each other.
I put out some peanuts and suspicious that they disappeared so quickly and without a trace of discarded shell, watched to see two marauding blue jays helping themselves. A busy squirrel came nosing around too and out in front a huge, fat rabbit, eyeing up the emerging shoots. "I'm buying you a one way ticket on United Airlines", I scowled.
In America public art galleries are called museums. Perhaps because it's a relatively young country. This is the Museum of Art in Columbus, the capital of Ohio.
I should say it does have some nice old parts too.
Sadly I can't show you the paintings, as I don't want to fall foul of the rule that photography is for personal use only. But take my word for it, there was some lovely stuff there, like Eugene Boudin's "Bordeaux: Boats on the Garonne" and a great 17th century Dutch Still Life by Carstien Luyckx, with the most realistic-looking lobster. You can google them. They knew how to paint in those days, unlike (call me a Philistine) some of the modern masterpieces on show. At one point, I said to hubby, pointing across to one display, "1870s..." and then to another, "...1970s. What happened?"
But it increasingly seemed that this was not so much an art gallery, art museum, whatever, but more a place to score political points. Visitors were encouraged to place post-it notes with their comments.
Take my word for it again, very few of them had anything to do with art. And don't get me started on what they were selling in the gift shop.
But some people weren't fooled. You can just about read what this, (presumably young) visitor said, on yet another message board.
Here's a bit of it, "This museum was ment (sic) for art and to notice how people have accomplished these great accomplishments not about politics...." Just about right, in my opinion. You can have message boards anywhere and long live free speech but personally I'd like to have seen a bit more beautiful art. Compared with some of the magnificent art collections I've been to in other American cities, this was a trifle underwhelming.
Which is a little further along than western New York in the spring blooming stakes. This park and street are in quaint German Village, one of the oldest parts of town. A friend said he'd brought a German priest here to look around and he'd cried, as it reminded him so much of home.
Everywhere was this stunning sorbet pink
This was a redbud tree. You see them dotted around about in the early spring woods, peeping through the brown and grey with a misty hint of colour.
There were plenty of these white blossoms too but could only manage a quick shot from the car.
Thunderstorms threaten for tomorrow, Easter Sunday but that won't stop us celebrating. I'm off to put the champagne on ice. Christus Surrexit! Happy Easter everyone!