Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Weekend Walks:The Planning Continues

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sunday morning I planned to go for a drive to a favorite spot and take some pictures of Trillium undulatum. I don't have a good picture of that one yet, mostly it seems because the days I earmark for this event are raining and I'm always rushed. I figured then I would make a swing downtown, grab a paper and then visit the new land for a quick walk. Back at Vermont Flower Farm I have been working every day in the lower hosta garden and there's still a week's work left before it is close to passing muster. No time yet for the new endeavor on Route 2.

People keep asking when we're going to just do something visible with the new land but they fail to understand that we have the first business to operate and I go to a full time job five long days each week. Pretty much I am still planning things, asking advice and drawing lots of sketches. My thought is that when I start to cut into the earth with shovel or plow, there's no easy way to put things back together if I don't like the first work. Planning doesn't cost anything and it should be part of any new business. All too often I encounter people who want desperately to be in business without so much as a plan. Those folks are often doomed from the start because they don't know what things cost or what they really need.

Everything Gail and I have done over the years has been without a big loan because we have planned our business purchases first and made them when we had the money to do so. We have gone without some things for ourselves but the business is healthier for it and we can't say that we've been disappointed in how we have lived. Walking the land or taking a break and walking in the woods on a quiet morning are my way of planning for the future. The peacefulness of being outside generates some strong ideas to bounce off Gail and Alex and others that we know who garden.

As I walked Sunday morning, I noticed how very dry the woods were. The trilliums I wanted to photograph showed the signs of drought and the flowers were already faded and shrinking. I was disappointed but there was no immediate recourse. I knew a couple other places that were fairly well hidden from sun and wind and I figured I'd give them a try on Monday or Tuesday.

A big pileated woodpecker approached, see-sawing in flight to a dying sugar maple. The bird caused me to stop abruptly and lean against a tree to watch. It was a beautiful bird, intent on rapping deeper into a hole it had previously started. I don't know how long I watched but it seemed longer than it probably was. When I caught myself in time, I happened to look down and there on the ground was a white flower I had not seen before. Ever. I knelt down on the woods floor, carefully moving some fallen maple branches to make myself comfortable.

This was a beautiful little flower barely three inches tall with white flowers the size of the tip of my pinkie finger. Like meeting a new friend, I wanted to learn it's name but had not so much as a guess to start with. I was amazed that for a lifetime of walks in the woods, I had never seen this flower before.

I got so carried away with my walk that I had to forget a visit to the new land as work beckoned and those two cups of coffee didn't quite make a breakfast. I kept wondering if the pictures came out at all as the little pocket camera I carry is difficult for me to focus. I went straight to the computer and then grabbed Kate Carter's Wildflowers of Vermont. The book hasn't disappointed me yet and Sunday was no different.

The flower was Panax trifolius. Kate says it's a smaller version of Panax quinquefolium. My prize was a Dwarf Ginseng and I was so pleased to have seen it. I returned to the general area yesterday with a better camera. I am usually very good about relocating things in the woods but yesterday, after the preceding night's heavy rains, the aging flowers of Panax trifolius were no where to be found. I traced back and forth until a chipmunk chastised me for interrupting the wood's quiet and with that I went home. I marked my computer log with a reminder to begin looking for these flowers next year around May 20th contingent upon the weather. I hope I can get a better picture next time. Until then, it's a nice memory.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the various frogs are signing an unknown song which stops on occasion when the neighboring raccoons stroll through the valley along the vernal spring. I prefer the song, not the interruptions.

Good gardening!

George Africa

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