Thursday, June 25, 2009

After the Rain

A peculiar joy sets in on the morning after a rain. They say it has something to do with ionization in the atmosphere. I don’t know about that, but the air is cooler, the plants are wet and gleaming, the morning light is clear and sharp, and the birds are chattering with unusual abandon.

The days are getting shorter now, but they’ll continue to get hotter for quite a while, too, and the summer shrubs are in their prime. I am especially thrilled by the appearance of newly sown grass in places that had seemed too shady and beaten down by foot traffic to support anything green.

We cut down the apple tree in the front yard two years ago, and some of the grass that had been enjoying the shade, shocked by the sudden change in exposure, up and died. A few weeks ago I seeded everywhere—a little late, perhaps—and then it rained for three days. Yes, I watered once or twice, too, but I was still genuinely surprised to see those tender, bright-green shoots popping up here and there. We’ve got to cut down on the garden parties for a while to give these tiny plants a chance to establish themselves.

Meanwhile, our chestnut tree has finally given up the ghost. You don’t see many trees of this type around anymore, though a breeder in Canton, Minnesota, has been developing cross-breeds between American, Chinese, Japanese, European, and Seguin chestnuts with some success. Ours was planted by the man we bought our house from 25 years ago; he had connections with the Arboretum and the Nature Conservancy. The tree had only grown about ten feet in the last quarter-century, so it isn’t surprising, I guess, that it finally succumbed. The base of the tree now supports a cluster of little shoots, which I suppose I’ll be mowing down for years to come. As for the trunk, which is about as thick as my bicep, I’ll chop it down someday soon, season it over the summer in the garage, and use it this fall for a weenie roast!

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