Monday, May 4, 2015

May the Fourth Be with You

Are you enjoying Star Wars Day? Are you looking forward to seeing "The Force Awakens?" I am. I still remember going to see the original Star Wars: A New Hope. It blew me away. That was when I still lived on the East Coast, where they call serviceberry "shadbush." It's also known as "shadwood or shadblow, ... wild pear, juneberry, saskatoon, sugarplum or wild-plum, ...." The genus is Amelanchier and there are a number of species to go with all those common names. I first encountered mention of shadbush when I was learning to fish for shad and came across a mention that the fish would be running up the North River/Indian Head River at about the time the shadbush was in bloom. That would be about this time of year. Later we'll see if there are red to purple berries.

serviceberry / shadbush Amelanchier sp.
serviceberry / shadbush Amelanchier sp.?
Photo by J. Harrington

Please consider the identification of the photo tentative. I'm playing with a new, free iPhone app called LeafSnap. So far, I've tried uploading a photo of the leaf three times. Each time I've received a message to the effect that the server is busy. I know, it's free software so I shouldn't complain, but it would help if they'd have the app check for server availability before they transmit the picture. It's supposed to work analogous to facial recognition, which would be great for someone like me who often gets lost in field guides, but it's only great if it actually works.

Actually, the primary reason I went out today was to see if the lilacs had started to bloom. The answer is not yet, but they're thinking about it. See:

lilac flower buds
lilac flower buds
Photo by J. Harrington

Last, and far from least, there's not a sign that I could see that the local trillium are even thinking about blossoming. The good news is that yesterday's hail storms traveled north and south of us. They didn't batter local blossoms and wildflowers. The bad news is we didn't get any rain either.

Mahayana in Vermont

By Sydney Lea 

My objectives this morning were vague.
As always I'd hike these hills—
a way to keep going
against the odds age deals,
a way to keep body and soul
together, and not so much thinking
as letting things steal into mind—
but I started counting

from the very first step I took.
I wore rank old boots, ill-laced,
and patchwork pants.
Around my neck hung the frayed
lanyard of a whistle I use
to summon our trio of dogs,
who capered and yelped their pleasure
at one of our walks,

and more miraculous still,
at having me for a master.
It's true in a sense
that I always count as I wander,
though it's usually the beats of a tune
(Thelonious's "Blue Monk"
a favorite) that mark my time.
These counts felt odder,

better. We scattered a brood
of grouse at step 91.
The deerflies strafed us.
At 500 a late trillium
glowed by a ledge like a lotus.
Right along the rain kept pounding.
I was mindful of all these things
but I never stopped counting.

Life was good, and more.
It was worthy of better response.
At 1000 I thought,
Enough—and counted on.
Nothing was coming to mind.
Nothing is coming again
from my hike half the day ago
with three dogs through rain

but a mystic sense of well-being
in quietly chanted numbers.
Whatever this trance,
I treasured it as a wonder
not to be wrenched into meaning,
as in Every second counts,
as in You should count your blessings,
though of those there seems no doubt.

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