Leeks and Lilacs, Down

I knew the Earth Day storm was coming. I didn’t fish, oddly enough. It was chill and drizzly most of the day. I had minor tasks to complete at home. A “Nor’easter” was blowing toward the state. By morning there would be enough wet snow to cancel school for the first time in the 2011-2012 calendar year. I went out to dig wild leeks along Hemlock Brook and then I brought the wild onions to their fated destination. Ooh that April smell! That flash of fire in the bulb! Leighanne diced the woodland vegetable and added it to the ground beef with accompanying corn casserole for a tasty late-day meal.

It took me a while to scrape the morning ice and snow from the vehicles. This was the biggest “winter storm” of the year and it had waited till late April to arrive. Forsythias drooped with snow at the end of the driveway, their fading yellow blossoms looking like a giant pile of corn casserole. The front yard maple boughs drooped toward the ground; a tree cracked sharply on the hillside. I took a small broom and gently thwacked the lower branches to remove some ice and snow.

The wet stuff fell intermittently throughout the day. By mid-afternoon I noticed that our century-old lilacs by the barn were cracked and fallen to the ground. Their flower buds, more advanced than in typical Aprils at this time, seemed to beg mercy. Maybe I would leave these crippled bushes for a final blossoming just inches over the lawn.

Storms that do not devastate or imperil have a certain beauty. They allow us to enter a world where humans have little or no power to control events. We can drop to our knees and bemoan the loss of a favorite tree or bush and be thankful that the life had been here among us. It could’ve been worse. A hundred-footer could’ve dropped and crashed on an empty vehicle or, worse, on a roof and through the living room. The randomness of storm events reminds us that real freedom is something we can only dream about from the comfort of our civilized ways. We can seek to be free from the deadening pressures of society, but then we depend on the storms and breezes of the universe to survive. I can only surmise the difficulty of such a venture.

All I know is this: on Earth Day I went out to collect wild leeks for a meal. The next day there was heavy snow and ancient lilacs lying on the ground. The Earth had given and, apparently, the Earth had taken away.

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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6 Responses to Leeks and Lilacs, Down

  1. Junior says:

    I’m sad to see those go. I wish they had been in bloom while I was there.

    • Junior, They would’ve been really early then; typically they’re not fully out till what, second week of May? But the good news is, despite the fact that 2/3 of the bushes are down, the rest should repopulate the colony soon. Thanks!


  2. Fred B says:

    It’s always a challenge to explain to my students how dynamic forests are. We had 10 inches of snow here – the broken aspens help a little bit with understanding forest disturbances and dynamics. Still, I am bummed about a couple of cherry trees…

    • Fred,
      That’s one of the things I like about poplars and aspens. They’re quick growers and allow the slower, hardier trees to gain a foothold. They break down when the big storms hit, allowing the sun to draw up the slower ones that needed shade initially. That’s part of the dynamism, if I remember correctly.

  3. Dale Houseknecht says:

    is all the the snow at your place? We didnt get any here. wonder if slaterun area got any?

  4. Dale,
    Don’t know if Slate got any but I hope so. We got close to a foot and it’s melting fast. The streams look like a happy kid with mud on its face.

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