25 March 2015

Old friends

Twas a delight recently to host one of my oldest friends; we met so far back in the seventies neither of us can remember the year although the place is certain: The Knox Street Pub (which still serves beer but is nothing like the old hole in the wall and sadly, the old quirky, tree-lined, lovely neighborhood was destroyed, now populated by multi-story commercial buildings). On the other hand, Gary is quite recognizable, the years have had little visual impact. In a world of rapid and chaotic change, there is no other anchor point like an old and dear friend. Many brain cells were sacrificed on the altar of yeast & grain during the visit, old times relived and analyzed, new experiences created and philosophies & sciences debated. We have never been out of touch and it seemed inconceivable that we last saw each others faces in 1997. It was sad to watch his rental car roll down the driveway.

From my end, contact was lost with a number of friends in the turbulent and stressful two-year divorce saga. Its been most excellent to be reacquainted with my brother of a different mother, Kenzo, the most brilliant of 21st century Daguerrians. Its a curiosity of life that being raised in such radically different environments, the outcomes, including physical appearance, were so similar. Our paths collided circa 1979 and have entwined on and off continually since. Surely only a twin can understand the fullness of being with a nearly identical creature; this is not, surely, at that level but it is most reassuring to know he is "out there."

Isn't it one of the great miracles of existence how good friends can pick up where a conversation ended a decade ago as if it were yesterday? What a blessing.

The weather at Stratheden Farms has definitely been in the category of "Spring like." The forecast high for tomorrow is 70F (22C).  And, with the wild weather of the Blue Ridge mountains, the forecast low for two nights later is 25F, or a killing frost... after last weeks snow, an odd phenomenon was observed - snowy spider webs. The ground was too warm for the snow despite subfreezing air temperatures. The snow melted instantly ion the ground but was captured and preserved for a day by the cobwebs.

Plants are bursting forth into new life, buds opening, leaves emerging, flowers shining. It is a good year for daffodils: the percentage of plants bearing blooms is very high, the blooms are large and radiant and clearly the bulbs multiplied nicely since last Spring. The same may be said of the crocus. Tulips are producing larger than usual leaves which hopefully augurs spectacular flowers in a few more days. The first of the forsythia flowers opened today and they, too, seem especially resplendent this Spring. The winter was harsh with wilder swings of temperature than normal, some new growth from the autumn was definitely killed, but overall, perhaps it was the best conditions for many of the resident flora.

This is the time for preventative action on the farm, aka weed control. Wild roses and brambles are a major invasive here and almost impossible to control (never eliminated). In the forest at this time, no small plants or wee bushes have yet emerged, hence the bright green rose stems are easily seen against the brown leaf litter background. Thanks to frost heave and moisture, the soil is friable and the long runner-roots of the roses can be pulled up intact. The thickets of roses must be attacked now, too, but for a different reason: once leafed out, its impossible to see what you are doing. Unless a horticulturist is deeply into self abuse & pain, rose and bramble thickets are best entered whilst wearing heavy denim or canvas jackets, gloves, heavy trousers and of course, gloves. Soon it will be too warm to don such armor; as Confucius said: man working in thorns without armor should not be allowed to bare arms later. It may not look like much, but it required two hours and some minutes to hack into this rose thicket. Now the rose bushes can be attacked the base and huge numbers of thorny stems cut loose by a single cut to the common base.

Spring is also an ideal time to tackle erosion. The soil is easily worked (i.e., not frozen or dry-hard), it can be reseeded and covered by new growth quickly, and this is all best done before Spring rains have an opportunity to exacerbate erosion. Again, it may not appear to be much, but the fill dirt shown represents ten buckets; am so thankful for the Yanmar tractor and its front bucket.

Today was the first day sans farm work after four afternoons of activity. Ye olde body's stiffness and aches suggested a day off might be a fine idea. Gary, tonight I'll have the pleasure of consuming one of the craft beers you gifted. As Grand-daddy said, the two greatest blessings in life are health and friends. Thank you, my friends, for enriching my life in such marvelous manners.

No comments: