Tag Archives: Ozark spring

April Houseplant Headaches

Winter never gives up without a fight in the Ozarks. Spring and winter vie for supremacy the month of April giving me houseplant headaches.

All winter my few houseplants have patiently waited. The grow light is never bright enough. Water is either too much or too little. They hunker down and endure.

Freezing temperatures will kill my houseplants. Warm temperatures will make them grow into beautiful plants once again.

weather houseplant headaches
When the days are warm, I carry the houseplants out to the plant bench behind an old shed. There are seven pots to haul out. African violets stay in the house all year. If it’s not supposed to rain, but might lightly frost, I toss a blanket over them rather than haul the pots back inside for a day or two.

Spring blows in with warm temperatures. The houseplants move outside. The fern puts up new fiddleheads.

Winter tromps in with freezing temperatures. The houseplants move inside drooping under the grow light once more.

Spring returns. The houseplants move out again.

Houseplant headaches come in the form of poring over the weather forecasts. Will the temperatures stay warm for several days?

fig tree houseplant headaches
Some fig trees do very well in pots. The pot is one cattle protein licks came in with five or six half inch holes in the bottom. A layer of gravel is next. Then comes a mixture of compost and soil. The stand is simple and set up so a small tractor can pick it up with it’s carry all tines. The heated room is a converted, insulated garage kept at forty degrees over the winter.

More houseplant headaches come as heavy pots are carted out and the watch begins. Weather forecasts are notoriously inaccurate in this frost pocket. Most accurate is the feel of the air when I go out to milk. Ice in the air means racing back to cart those pots inside for the night.

Winter is sneaky. The air can feel warm in the evening. The wind can shift blowing in freezing temperatures by morning. Such a set up turned all my plants black a few years ago. Most of them did sprout back up in a week or two.

Many of my houseplants are gone now, given away. April houseplant headaches following the struggles of keeping the plants alive over the winter became too much of a hassle.

developing figs
Figs are an interesting fruit. The flowers are inside a fig-like capsule that comes straight out of the branches. The fig develops from there. Different figs are different colors when they are ripe. They do soften. They taste radically different from the commercially available dried figs.

Now there is a new source of houseplant headaches: fig trees. These are not the hardy figs. These are the tropical figs grown for their delicious fruits. They reside in large tubs.

All winter these trees lived in an insulated, heated room. Now the tractor comes over to move them out for warm spring days and returns to put them back in their room when winter returns.

Unlike my houseplants that are strictly to look at, the figs repay us for the trouble with fresh figs. The trees are already putting on a crop.

April Snows Arrive

April is a few weeks into official spring. Wildflowers are starting to bloom. April snows arrived anyway.

The day was too warm for snow. The clouds were snow clouds.

What makes a cloud a snow cloud? It has that dark gray color yet is thin enough for the sun’s disk to be visible.

April snows on tree

A few days of warm weather has the tree buds swelling. April snows cling to the branches and trunks of the trees belying the spring promises.

Still, the temperature rose from a chilly twenty-four to forty. Much too warm for snow.

The temperature began to drop, settling at thirty-five. Still too warm for snow. But the snow fell, an inch of it.

April snows are wet snows. The temperatures are too warm so the flakes are almost melting as they fall. The ground was still frozen, so the snow chilled and stayed.

April snows are pretty snows. Wet snows stick to things. It lines the branches. It forms patches on rough tree bark. It makes little hats on bushes and fence posts.

April snows snow caps

Buckbrush leaves were already spreading out. Now the leaves hold snow caps.

April snows are not welcome snows. Deer have been gorging on fresh spring grass, now buried.

Tree buds have been swelling. Leaves are impatient to spread out and catch warm rays from the spring sun.

Birds have been singing, marking out nesting territories. They now sit huddled on cold, snowy branches. The insects are hiding leaving many birds hungry. Others are mobbing the bird feeder.

cardinals in April snows

Spring grass pokes through the April snow, but the insects the cardinals seek are in hiding.

Cold breezes don’t drift this snow. Instead the snow crusts over with an ice layer. The ground is slick. Walking is dangerous. The wind chill makes the air like a dose of ice water soaking through jackets and shirts.

April snows are best viewed from inside the house. Wood heat warms the rooms. Snow muffles sounds and chases traffic away.

April snows are nice to look at for a lazy afternoon. Then the snow needs to admit the day is too warm for snow. The April sun needs to remember it’s spring and make this snow a fading memory.

Some of the special times of an Ozark year are in Exploring the Ozark Hills.

My Ozark Home, a book of memories, photographs of my Ozark hills and haikus, will be released this fall.

Writing Prompts Challenges

The last time I remember working with writing prompts was fourth grade. Mrs. Adams would put a line of pictures along the blackboard. Each student chose one to write a story about.

My books now trace themselves back to an idea about a plot or a character. I don’t think of these as writing prompts, but suppose they are. That is what a prompt is: a topic idea to build a story around.

goat show writing prompts

This is a good writing prompt for me, being at a goat show. Rural topics are a big challenge for city dwellers.

A writing buddy likes writing from these prompts and talked me into trying a weekly prompt. We trade off weeks coming up with an idea.

My writing prompts are usually some happening like picking up a coin. Hers are one word. The latest was Cursed. We tend to drive each other mad as the prompts force us to approach our writing from a new angle, get out of our comfort zones.

writing prompts fawn

Could you use this picture as a writing prompt? This fawn is old enough to start losing its spots and be on its own, but young enough to not race away when come across by a vehicle.

Cursed was such a word for me. I’m not much interested in the horror, occult or similar topics. I like much more practical, everyday topics. What could I do with this one?

The thing about a writing prompt piece is its rough draft quality. Many times the piece is written in a short time with no editing review. I came up with this one:

 

I stand assessing the enemy. I am bigger than the enemy. The enemy has vastly more members. I have weapons to attack my enemies. They have only their roots.

And, in the end, the enemy will win.

I know before beginning, the enemy will win. The enemy always wins this war. Still I get ready and go out to do battle hoping to delay the inevitable.

Smart people are supposed to learn from their mistakes. I fight this battle every year refusing to learn, or accept, my defeat.

Every fall I put up barriers to stop the enemy. Every spring I put up more barriers. The enemy’s numbers are reduced, but the army still comes.

Every spring I plow up the legions of tiny enemies. Every summer I dig and pull hundreds of my enemies. The enemy regroups and launches a new assault.

Why don’t I admit defeat? Why don’t I give up and surrender?

Each winter I consider quitting. I tabulate the costs in time and money. Both are precious commodities.

Spring wafts into view. The land greens. The air lightens. The birds sing. The seed racks and transplants arrive in the stores.

I am doomed, cursed, fated to fight the war another year.

Why? Why can’t I admit defeat? Why can’t I resist spring?

That first sun-ripened, sun-warmed tomato is why.

 

Yes, it is gardening season here. My spinach and turnips are sprouting. Flood cleanup has delayed putting the Buttercrunch lettuce in.

writing prompts floods

Nothing like ending a drought with six inches of rain and a flood. This might make a good writing prompt, but not until cleaning up is a distant memory.

I wanted to see the ravines in flood for the Carduan Chronicles. Wading through the water wasn’t an option.