Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

Sunday, April 8, 2007

21.3 degrees on the mountain. Just back in with Karl the wonder dog. His sniffer was in overdrive this morning as a red squirrel had just dug out a cache of seeds from the wall by the driveway. Karl is difficult to coax back into the house when he has a likable scent, even on Easter morning.

The sky is open and the moon is lingering on the horizon. There is an obvious cloud above Peacham Pond, probably caused by the water that has opened up parts of the ice. The water enters from a couple larger sources like Sucker Brook and the overflow from the white spring but there are a couple other lesser sources that help to weaken the ice and change the surrounding temperature. I won't be surprised if we receive a flurry of sugar snow this morning as the air just "feels" like snow will be part of the morning.

Today is Easter and for the second year in a row we don't have an Easter lily in the house. The Amazon lily, Eucharis amazonica, pictured above, can be a substitute. Easter lilies as we know them are Lilium longiflorums although the lily mentioned in the Bible was really the Madonna lily or Lilium candidum. The flower industry needed a big showy lily with trumpet flowers and big buds and their work is obvious by the millions.

Growing lilies for Easter is a moving target and quite a challenge. When you see one in the box stores marked $6, respect what the grower has gone through. Easter falls on different dates and Easter lilies must be grown in greenhouses. In a state such as Vermont, winter climates are moving targets too. There are temperature and light changes and both of these are critical to bulb production. Growers have resorted to chemicals to regulate height and speed of growth. At the end of a winter like this one where February and March had many nights close to or below zero, the production costs rocketed just to keep the bulbs growing. A producer's goal is to have just a couple buds opening when the plants hit the market.

This year the lilies I looked at had spindly stems and were blooming long before they should have. Florists usually have the best selection which has received more attention, hence the reason why you traditionally pay a little more. It's worth a little more to have a healthy, balanced plant that will be in bloom for 2-3 weeks. At least I think so.

Just in the time I am sitting here, the sugar snow has started. There are 11 blue jays and a pair of doves competing for their Easter breakfast. A lone grackle without an invitation keeps appearing from nowhere.

Whatever your celebration, whatever you have planned for today, enjoy yourself.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the fire in the wood stove feels good to Karl and to us too!

George Africa