Making Scents

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I admit it.  Right this minute, I should be doing our taxes.  We’re down to the last minute and I have all the paperwork stacked on the desk beside me, but I’m not doing it.  It is too miserable a task to even contemplate.  Instead I go outside to capture spring.

The last few mornings, when I have risen just before dawn, I have gone outside to breathe deeply of the scents that hang heavy in the cool moist air.  The perfume from thousands of orchard blossoms on our farm is heady and intoxicating.  There is nothing quite like these two weeks each year when our farm becomes a mass of snow white and pink scented flowers, busy with honey bees and eventually showering petals to the ground as the fruit starts to form.

Unfortunately, I’m allergic to tree pollen.  I breathe deeply and… sneeze and wheeze.  Even the best medicine can’t stop my reaction. So much loveliness causes so much misery.  So I retreat back to the house and look out the window and enjoy the view from afar, dabbing my dripping nose.

Ironically, this is the same time of year our dairy farm neighbors start to empty their manure lagoons and begin to spread their thousands of gallons of liquid manure on the surrounding fields, readying the ground for the hay or corn crop to come later on this summer. That scent hangs heavy in the cool moist air as well, pungent and unforgettable, penetrating even into our clothing so we carry the smell back into the house with us.  Of course I’m not allergic to manure.  After all, it’s only grass and water transformed.  In fact, as nasty a smell as it is, it’s invigorating in a perverse sort of way.  I know where it comes from, I know what its potential is, and I know the crop it yields.  It is, in itself, as treasured as the blossoms that yield fruit on our farm.

Taxes are the manure in our lives.  They are pretty stinky too, just like manure, an inevitable part of our daily existence, yet even more onerous.  However, spread out where needed, those collective taxes fertilize and grow our communities, our schools, our roads, our health care (and a few other things we may wish would not be funded).

So I must get to work spreading numbers across my desktop in the hope they may make sense and yield fruit of their own, sometime, somewhere.

The Cents of Spring.

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Feast for the Eyes

There are two reliable things that take place on our farm in April besides taxes being due: the Haflingers start serious shedding of their worn winter coats and the huge pink dogwood tree in front of our house bursts into bloom as one consolation over the taxes.

We’re still currying hair from the horses–it will be another 2-3 weeks before it all lets go, as the nights are still cool and that hair feels mighty nice in the cold breezes. The summer undercoat is shining beneath that old winter hair, and glistens as it is revealed–hair flies everywhere, sticks to our sleeves and gets in our noses and mouths. As the horses groom each other they end up with hair-lined teeth and furry tongues.

Our dogwood tree, some 30 feet tall, in silent coordination with every other pink dogwood in our community, is about to bloom, and it seems now that everywhere I go there are brother and sister dogwoods that I notice only this time of year. We neighbors all share this common bond in our pink dogwoods–10 days of show before the leaves come and the pink petals rain down and the trees resume ordinary status.

These brilliant blossoms are profoundly glorious–a feast for the eyes— perfection of colored petals tipped by white, but in the middle, this volcano dome-like center that seems so primitive and out of place in something so beautiful. Yet it is that center that lasts long after the petals have melted into the ground and disappeared. There would be no future blooms otherwise. The petals are transient and soothe my winter-weary eyes, but the knobby core of the blossom is the essence of the dogwood that will be preserved even through the worst ice storm.

Profound is found in the most primitive if we remember our origin. After all, we were once dust. There is nothing more primitive than that.

And the fact we exist is the most profound of all.

dogwood during ice storm

The Scents of Spring

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I admit it.  Right this minute, I should be doing our taxes.  We’re down to the last minute and I have all the paperwork stacked on the desk beside me, but I’m not doing it.  It is too miserable a task to even contemplate.  Instead tonight I went outside to capture spring.

The last few mornings, when I have risen just before dawn, I have gone outside to breathe deeply of the scents that hang heavy in the cool moist air.  The perfume from thousands of orchard blossoms on our farm is heady and intoxicating.  There is nothing quite like these two weeks each year when our farm becomes a mass of snow white and pink scented flowers, busy with honey bees and eventually showering petals to the ground as the fruit starts to form.

Unfortunately, I’m allergic to tree pollen.  I breathe deeply and… sneeze and wheeze.  Even the best medicine can’t stop my reaction. So much loveliness causes so much misery.  So I retreat back to the house and look out the window and enjoy the view from afar, dabbing my dripping nose.

Ironically, this is the same time of year our dairy farm neighbors start to empty their manure lagoons and begin to spread their thousands of gallons of liquid manure on the surrounding fields, readying the ground for the hay or corn crop to come later on this summer. That scent hangs heavy in the cool moist air as well, pungent and unforgettable, penetrating even into our clothing so we carry the smell back into the house with us.  Of course I’m not allergic to manure.  In fact, as nasty a smell as it is, it’s invigorating in a perverse sort of way.  I know where it comes from, I know what its potential is, and I know the crop it yields.  It is, in itself, as treasured as the blossoms that yield fruit on our farm.

Taxes are the manure in our lives.  They are pretty stinky too.  Just like manure, an inevitable part of our daily existence, just as disagreeable.  Yet, spread out where needed, those collective taxes fertilize and grow our communities, our schools, our roads, our health care (and a few other things we may wish would not be funded).

So I must get to work spreading numbers across my desktop in the hope they may yield fruit of their own, sometime, somewhere.  The Cents of Spring.