Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bees and Buds

Calhouns Can(n)ons for January 20, 2010

Bees and Buds

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
Thornton Wilder

January. Warm and sunny. I have returned from the market and as I start unpacking groceries from the car in the driveway, I hear it. Humming. Loud humming. I look around, thinking somebody’s got an electric motor running somewhere. Then I look up, surprised to notice that the whatchamacallit tree by the driveway is filled with cream-colored flowers. And filled with bees. Humming bees. In January?

In the front garden, I am startled to notice a large rock rose has suddenly covered herself with beautiful white blooms. Brazen hussy. Gussied up for Mardi Gras and it’s still January. While out in the sandy no-man’s land between the front garden’s retaining wall and the puddle-filled dirt road, a close inspection shows tiny sprouts from wildflower seeds hand-gathered last fall from a neighbor’s yard and scatttered what seems only a few weeks ago. They are jostling and elbowing their way into the world next to equally frantic wild mustard seedlings. It will be a tangled, colorful riot soon filled with more bees.

Last summer, while at Los Osos Valley Nursery, a serendipitous mixed up order for a Rogers Red grapevine resulted in my stumbling upon a vitex trifolia purpuea, or Arabian Lilac bush/tree. Not a true lilac, but a fragrant cousin of the chaste tree, it’s an astonishingly lovely plant, with groups of three oval-shaped leaves (hence trifolia) that are each slightly creased down their length and gently canted up on either side which allows the chaste tree to unchastely reveal her lovely secret: the underside of each leaf is a beautiful dusky lavender and because of the crease, the purple below and the olive green above are always both visible.

Quite enchanted with a plant that resembled a modest lady with her purple slip perpetually showing, I ordered several and stuck them in both back and front yards. I even planted one in a large pot in Kifani’s Corner. They started growing immediately, putting forth branches and more beautiful leaves and even sweet smelling lilac-like blooms on the ends of the branches.

But then an unexpected early killing frost hit before I could get them covered and the chaste tree was soon chastened back to dead leaves and bare branches. I left them untouched hoping that they were simply shocked to an early sleep, not an early compost bin, and waited. And along with the bees, there they were. Chaste little lavender buds peeping out from the base of the frost-bitten stems. Just waiting for a warm, sunny January day to start growing again.

Warm sunny January days and now rain. Days of rain rolling in from the Pacific. Days of rain called the “Pineapple Express,” rolling in from way out in the ocean somewhere near Hawaii and other tropical climes, full of water, meeting an “Artic Express” full of cold air. Rain. Rain. Rain. Much needed but capable of horrific destruction on the areas burned off in last year’s fires. Apocalyptic California of fire and flood. The evil and obscene televangelist Pat Robertson no doubt ready to declare that Californians are deserving of any and all earthly destructive natural forces because we all made a pact with the devil somewhere along the way. Evidence of which is we get warm sunny bee-filled days in January, no doubt.

While desperately needed in our drought-ridden and water over-drafted state, the rain now requires of me some major engineering of the back yard to rechannel the banked sand trails and sinks and holes the dogs have created in their Indianapolis 500 zooming to try to eliminate an now-inconvenient Lake Calhoun, and to get the water out further into the yard. For now, with the wet sand simply too heavy for any major earthworking, I can only dig temporary canals and hope for the best.

But at least now I am somewhat more prepared, having bought the last bright yellow hooded rain jacket left on the local Ace Hardware shelf. Looking like the Gorton Fish Stick Guy, shovel in hand, I am prepared. Sort of. And just in time, too. This early a.m. I can hear the thunder. A flash of lightning winks between the blinds. High winds are predicted. Never a good combination. And for the Pacific Gas & Electric repair crews, those Paladins of Power, I fear it will be a long, long day of dangerous circuit riding.

Another thunder crack. I can only hope the bees are safely hiding now and dreaming of more warm sunny January days to come. And when they return, the lavender and green chaste Arabian Lilacs will be there for them, shamelessly offering sweet blooms.


annerallen said...

Of course. We're suffering from that pesky deal with the devil California must have signed. That's why this weather pattern is named El Nino--for Robertson's own personal Christ child (or little Thor?)that he's called up to hammer the Central Coast. It must be so wonderful to have your own personal God to serve as your personal hit-person. I'm sure Robertson's favorite song is the Austin Lounge Lizards great hymn, "Jesus Loves Me, but He Sure Hates Yew!"

Alon Perlman said...

For Annerallen
I posted on trib letters- "Pray for rain" and another; Otis Page from a different book than anyone else’s good book.

Original letters here

Alon_Perlman wrote on 01/16/2010 10:57:14 PM:
Jerry M. I appreciate your sentiments, but- "you cannot petition the Lord with prayer" a hard rain is a-comin, give thanks that we were spared the fires and that our soils will not be as likely to wash to the seas. We influenced the weather, but we cannot control it.
Otis P. I do not appreciate your sentiments, but- Supreme Court Judge (brenner?) said- It is the role of the Supreme Court to protect the MINORITY from the MAJORITY.
Those Grand Arroyans, Ya gotta love em. No really- You Have Got To Love Them, what other choice do you have? THAT'S what it's all about."
So you think Mr. Page got the "YOU HAVE GOT TO LOVE THEM" part?

Churadogs said...

I dumped the last two comments. Maybe repost using English, unless you're having a cow in which case you'll be dumped again.

Alon Perlman said...

Self regulation is always the best, once regulatory guidence is established.
There seem to be many lake Calhouns out there. Amazing how,in some other places the areas drain well after 3 hrs of rain stoppage. I chose to ride around checking drainage patterns. Sub-midtown/TW area is flooded. soils saturated,but looks like the worst is over till evening.
Nexrad radar (current if I did this right)

Churadogs said...

Alon, Yep. Lake Calhouns. Wierdly, in my own back yard, one area would be sopping while a few few away, at shovel depth, bone dry sand. Well, am looking forward to a few days of dry until the next drenching.