Clark Hollow Ramblings: The beauty of the spring garden

Many years ago, I was in a college class with a young man whose last name was Kilmer. I remember him well. He was fairly quiet, smart, and, for a young man, somewhat more worldly than you would expect. He had long red, unruly, hair on his head and his face. I don’t remember his first name. But what I do remember was that he was a direct descendant of Joyce Kilmer.

“Pure enjoyment” is what some of us get just by looking at a nicely kept spring garden. Photo by Richard Brady.
“Pure enjoyment” is what some of us get just by looking at a nicely kept spring garden. Photo by Richard Brady.

I was thinking of Joyce Kilmer’s most famous poem the other day when I was working in my vegetable garden. I think the correct line of the verse is, “I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree.” For some reason, I always substitute “picture” for “poem” in that line. I know that is sacrilege to the poetry lovers, but that’s just the way my mind works.

As we watch the green line of spring edge up the Blue Ridge Mountains, I think again how lucky I am to live here, to have grown up here and to have my roots so firmly planted in the soil and along the limestone streams that pour out of the mountains.

And though I agree with Kilmer about the beauty of a tree, and I am a big tree fan, I have to say that beauty is rivaled by the pure enjoyment I get just looking at a nicely kept spring garden, with its two kinds of lettuce, radishes, peas, spinach, onions and beets poking through the soil, heralding the arrival of warmer days and nights.

It looks like we had a good peach and apple bloom, and one of our cherry trees was gorgeous this year. I always worry a bit for the farmers and orchard owners, who are so dependent on the weather. I pray we don’t have a bad frost. I still have six or seven good York apples left from last year, and I can almost taste that last pie my bride is going to make, with some raisins and that sweet, white frosting she drizzles on it. That’s good eating.

Mud ball mystery continues

Thanks to all of you who emailed me about the mud spheres that are appearing, apparently, all over the county. I have no definitive answer as to what they are, but I received some interesting suggestions. We seem to have ruled out molting chambers for centipedes and over-wintering nests for crawfish. 

Whatever this bug turns out to be, it is boring up from underground, and, apparently, when it reaches the surface, forms this ball of dirt, mud, leaves and sticks. How long it stays there, I can’t say, but it must not be too long, as I have never found one occupied. 

My daughter has them in her yard, under some evergreen trees. She is convinced they are cicadas. She may be correct. The size of the hole in the ground, and the inside of the mud ball, is about the size of the exoskeletons we used to find as kids, sticking to the sides of trees. And while I haven’t heard the singing of the cicadas or locusts yet, that doesn’t rule them out. My hearing is certainly not what it used to be. 

I hope you have been able to get out and enjoy this beautiful weather. I haven’t been able to do much morel hunting, but we did enjoy some the other day that our son brought us. They are another nice harbinger of warmer days and springtime. Enjoy.

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Richard Brady
About Richard Brady 131 Articles
Richard Brady was born and raised within sight of Rappahannock Peak, as was his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, etc. He graduated from George Mason University and was employed for 35 years with various agencies of the federal government. He retired in 2001, and he and his wife, Linda, live in Flint Hill, Va.