Leaf Burst

Spring is over. The pecan leaves have unfurled and the whole world beneath them is thick with shade. The dogs pulling people and women pushing strollers have begun to cross over to walk on our side of the street. There is no side-walk on this side but most people around here will trade safety for even a moment of escape from the sun.

firefly malanga
Firefly hiding under a malanga leaf

Yesterday I saw a fully grown firefly resting on a leaf and last night witnessed the first flashes. These boys like to fly perpendicular aiming their love beams toward the ground. They float around in slow passes and as Edward Abbey says they do seem like small town boys drifting aimlessly up and down Main Street, looking for trouble.

The confederate jasmine is in full bloom. The vines are mature now — like waterfalls on the walls. The fragrance splashes everywhere and even sneaks in through the windows at night.

milberries
mulberries

The mulberries keep getting heavier and juicier — dark beacons for birds and wandering children. They somehow lured even my husband out of the house. I saw purple stains on his fingers and a big smile on his face.

I’ve ‘let’ that mulberry get overgrown. The weight of the fruit causes the branches to droop into a kind of leafy tunnel and irresistible passageway. Do you have any spirit left in you or will you be a greyface and walk past instead of through? The situation has left me feeling a bit like a witch with a healthier version of a gingerbread house. But. The mulberries have never tasted better; this year they have truly come of age. Try them …

A few years ago the birds planted a vineyard along a fence. This year it looks like the vines will finally flower. Fingers crossed. Maybe we will see the first grapes this year.

grape caterpillar
Alypia octomaculata caterpillar

Of course I am never the first to discover things. A couple of caterpillars also noticed the vine is maturing. I think this little guy is an eight spotted forester moth caterpillar. If the birds are ok with him nibbling a bit of their vine I am too.

Speaking of nibbling. I just said goodbye to my dad who came for a visit. We did a ton of the touristy stuff but the best times were evenings spent on the patio sharing good healthy food and lingering afterwards with conversation. We didn’t say anything wise or even really memorable. It was just time together as family. That’s my idea of the good life — feeling safe under leaves enjoying the magic and bounty of this world: stars, flowers, food and good people.

And though I am late I wish for everyone a Happy Earth Day — one that lasts all year long.

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33 thoughts on “Leaf Burst

  1. Love the thought of birds planting the vine Debra, lovely photo of the caterpillar too. Its still Spring here, for folk to cross the street for shade it must be hot where you are. Happy belated Earth Day to you too.

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    1. Heh The birds around here are expert gardeners. They are much better than I am at selecting what will thrive. The red bud, hollies, mulberry and wild grape have all flourished while some of my choices have left only empty plastic pots.

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  2. I agree that is the good life when all those elements come together – you could have been speaking of the times when my dad visits – nothing wise nothing memorable just family sitting together.
    here we feel the tug of winter cutting into our autumn and stoke up the fire another notch and close the drapes..
    I like the image of tunnelling under the mulberry and feasting – witchs garden indeed !!!!

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    1. =) Family sitting together is one of the best parts of life. Hope you can keep warm and safe with yours in the days ahead. I do like the idea of a witch garden. It’s got me thinking and dreaming about my next project ….

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  3. Great post. It is Spring here in America, but the mulberry trees have not put on their fruit yet. Love those mulberries. We call the fireflies here in Arkansas, Lighting Bugs. Love your posts and all your photos, very good job. I can tell you put much time into your posts. A+

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    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement. Isn’t it wonderful how insects and plants have so many different names? Lightning bugs is such a perfect description. Someone once wrote a post about all the different names of the little roly-poly: pill bug, sow bug, doodle bug (! how cute) … I think he found like 50 different names. I’ve heard so many nice things about the natural beauty of Arkansas. Your clematis is spectacular. I’ve never had much luck with those here.

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      1. It is so interesting to talk with others from different countries on this earth. We get to learn the culture of other people. I find this blogging experience so exciting. I am learning something new each day from all my blogger friends. Wow!

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  4. A great post as usual. Lovely to spend time with your Dad and you lucky girl, how magical to have fireflies. Strange to think your mulberries are fruiting when ours haven’ t even got leaves or flowers yet.

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    1. The growing seasons here are so different from temperate places. We get tremendous bursts of growth in spring and fall but most things kind of go dormant the rest of the year. I grew up with the rhythm of four seasons so it has been quite disorienting adjusting — but I love it.

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  5. I love this post–glad time with family was so good. I love your little caterpillar on the grape plant. I have that vine too–doesn’t everyone here?, but I’ve never seen such a handsome guy on mine. Maybe I need to look closer. Welcome back.

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    1. Thanks Tina. It was such an honour to have my dad visit. He is getting older and it was a very long trip. The eight spotted moth LOVES Virginia creeper and grape vines. It is one of my favourite flying bugs so I welcome its presence though I have no trouble imagining some people see them as pests. If you have them you would likely know because they are voracious. I have a neighbour whose whole fence is covered with Virginia creeper. The caterpillars go to town each spring but the vine recovers and just gets even more lush in response.

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  6. Lightning bugs won’t flash here in IA until June. :-) Our mulberry trees are just putting out leaves. Funny what a difference some latitude makes. Good that you had some quiet time with your dad.

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    1. Love that name ‘lightning bugs.’ And the bugs/beetles themselves. I never saw them as I grew up so they seem terribly exotic and precious. It really is amazing what difference latitude can make. Soil types too. I have noticed that just here in the city people on the west side often report flowers blooming a week or two ahead of those of us on the east side. That sandy soil seems to heat up much faster than our clay.

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    1. Thanks. Mulberries aren’t quite as good as raspberries (the berry I knew growing up) but they are pretty good to eat out of hand. Spending time with my dad was pretty special. We live too far apart. I was really missing him.

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  7. I was excited the other day thinking I’d spotted a firefly here at last but no such luck. It was a lookalike, a soldier bug of some sort, no lights at the end of his tunnel, if you get my drift.

    What a lovely way to sum up the good life…”feeling safe under leaves enjoying the magic and bounty of this world”. I’m glad you had a chance to share your wonderful spaces under the pecan leaves in real time with a few of the folks who helped shape the caring person you are. Happy Earth Day right back to you, to yours, and to us all.

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    1. Thanks, Deb. Learning about food — preparation and presentation — has been a kind of life journey for me. Dinner times were far from pleasant experiences for me as I grew up. Creating moments where love and conviviality can happen is something I really value. It felt really great to have this opportunity to build new happy memories of sharing food and love at the family table. I realize that is something most people simply take for granted =) Lucky them.

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  8. We had mulberry trees growing in the alley behind a place we lived when the kids were small. They were always climbing up to eat the berries, coming back with purple hands and faces. They are weedy trees, but they add sweetness to life.

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    1. All I knew of mulberry trees as I grew up was the rhyme, “Here we go round the mulberry bush.” Your kids were lucky to have that experience. One of the ironies about wild or weedy things is we don’t think they are too precious/breakable so we invite kids to touch and enjoy them.

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  9. Beautiful pictures. You’re quite a bit further down the road than we are, but we’ve been walking our dog for several weeks. Starting to see signs of green and a few other colors. Thanks for sharing these.

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