I took advantage of the weather to get more work done outside--housework can always wait till a rainy day! My mother had dug up some hollyhock plants she didn't want, so, of course, I said I'd love to have them. I take any extra free plants anyone wants to offer me. I expected a few, maybe half a dozen, but she brought over sixteen plants, so what I thought would be a quick job turned into a much longer one. One thing I do have is lots of space, so finding a place to put all of them was no problem. I planted them all in the "back" back yard where the old farmhouse once stood, placing them around an old well pit and an old cistern.
When I was a girl, I loved hollyhocks, but I thought of them as something more like a weed--they just popped up in strange places all over our farm. I had no idea people actually bought seed to grow them. These hollyhocks could probably be labelled heirlooms, because, according to my Dad, they have been growing on their farm as long as he can remember, which means they are from 80-year-old stock. Perhaps my grandmother planted them, which makes them very special to me. As I planted them, I thought of my grandmother, one of the kindest people anyone could have ever met. And I realized another tie: my mother had dug up lots of soil with the hollyhocks, so I was actually transplanting some of the soil from the farm that my great-grandparents settled and has been in my family for over 130 years. I garden because I enjoy it, and I plant what pleases me, but I felt a special connection that afternoon, thinking of the bond with my ancestors who had tilled and planted the fields for generations long before me.
Once I had finished planting, I took care of a few other little chores. I set out my seedlings on the porch to get acclimated to the outside. My first experiment with seedlings didn't go so well--I now understand the meaning of the word "damp rot." But the seed packets weren't that expensive, and it was a learning experience. We'll see if this batch does better.
I also put up my hummingbird feeder. It's probably far too early here yet for hummingbirds, but I want them to know they're welcome when they do make it to this part of Illinois.
While we may not have hummingbirds yet, we do have lots of robins, cardinals, and red-winged blackbirds. They serenaded me while I worked yesterday, but they were very busy, too, gathering materials for their nests. I tried so hard to get a picture of one of the fat robins, but they were too wary of me and flew away each time I got close. Finally, one of them flew into the tree just above my head.
While I was trying to coax a robin into a photo, I suddenly noticed this tree in the back yard. I have never noticed this blooming before, and I have no idea what it is. It's hard to see the puffy white blosssoms on it, because the wind had picked up. Walking around it, trying to get the right angle for a picture,
I noticed this shoot coming straight out of its trunk. Now this looks like a pussywillow, doesn't it? Is there such a thing as a pussywillow tree? This is in the very back of the yard where the original farmhouse stood, so is it possible the shrub grew into a tree? Or perhaps it's some strange mutation. Any ideas?
By the end of the day, I was exhausted and my muscles ached. But I slept more soundly than I have for a long time, even sleeping straight through an earthquake! (See my early morning post below.)
Interesting note: I was listening to a local talk radio show this morning to hear news about the earthquake. Several callers mentioned that they were awakened by the birds who were unusually active before the earthquake. I thought all of you bird lovers would appreciate that. Sometimes it seems the animals are more intelligent than humans.