Spring Tuning

There is a magical moment, just before the orchestra begins, when the oboe gives a note and the instruments are tuned in a chaotic staccato of strings, horns and reeds. A short, breathless pause follows as the conductor raises the wand – before a symphony explodes in synchronized waves of sound. The gardener knows this as early spring.

A tulip appears,

then an iris,

an apple blossom,

and tiny Clematis buds unwind –

as if the whole garden is standing tall and ready – preparing to come alive.

We are firmly in that magical period of early spring now.

The heart can literally skip a beat in anticipation –if only the back didn’t ache from the thought of the overwhelming work ahead! Roses and fruit trees to be fed – weeds to be pulled – lawns to be seeded – paths restored – mulch laid. The list is endless. But attacked with joy.

“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.” ~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

There is another sign of early spring – even more miraculous. More to come.

A Postcard

I have “met” many interesting people through this blog. Animal lovers. Gardeners. Photographers. Writers. People close to home and people from the four corners of the earth. But never the author of a quote I have shared. Until now.

Recently, a request came to the rescue from the author of the poem “Winter is an Etching.” It was quoted here. Sometimes, a quote inspires a photo; more often, I go searching for a quote to match an image. In this case, I was already familiar with the poem. Its 18 words perfectly capture the seasons that a gardener knows so well:

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” ~ Stanley Horowitz

As soon as I captured the image, I knew that Stanley’s words “winter is an etching” should accompany the photo of the mockingbird taken on a grey, foggy morning in the Memorial Garden.

Stanley wanted to know where, when and how the photo was taken. I was happy to share the details. Through our conversation, I learned that Stanley’s poem was published in the November 1983 issue of Reader’s Digest and that he is working on a new book of poems to be completed this spring. I was curious to read his other writings, so he hunted down a copy of a book he published in 1974 entitled “Behind the Glass.” It is a collection of aphorisms – 400 of Stanley’s observations on everything from nature to human nature.

From an article found online, I learned that Stanley was looking at paintings to inspire his new book of poems about the seasons. How ironic given that Stanley’s words not only inspired my photography but my gardening which – when done well – is painting with nature.

Stanley is a private man, but he allowed me to share our meeting here. And he has allowed me to share his writings from “Behind the Glass” – words I will treasure along with my new friend. Here is the first of many more to come:

“Spring is a picture postcard from heaven.” ~ Stanley Horowitz

Follow Up Friday: Tag – Now Max

I did not recognize him – this gorgeous hunk of dog. But he seemed to know me. And then – the head tilt.

The telltale sign of a once ruptured ear membrane – and those eyes. It was Tag. Now Max. One of the Korea dogs that came to us two years ago in March.

Rescued from a dog meat market by the Humane Society International, and brought to us with three others by the San Francisco SPCA. While most of the dogs that had been rescued were rehabilitated and adopted, these four were shut down and terrified – refusing to leave the safety of their SPCA kennels for over a month. I wrote about them here.

Tag was the worst of them. Suffering from the ear injury, and hugging the ground for dear life.

We gave them a small, dedicated team to work with them. Gently coaxing them onto the first grass they had ever known and hand washing the caked on filth from their bodies.

It took weeks of work to help them find their courage and come out of their shells a little. We had begun the job. Their adopting families would complete it with kindness, patience and love.

I was not alone in not recognizing Max immediately – so changed is he. But he certainly remembered these two.

Lori and Tatia were part of his team in those first days with us – delivering reassurance and care.

Max is a changed dog in many wonderful ways – and in others, he is still Tag.

Shy at first approach. And those eyes…what horrors have they seen?

But now, they quickly shift from timidity to joy. And the shyness melts to bliss.

Max needs people now. He has found his way home.

Princess Gracie

My name is Gracie. I am the grande dame of the E. & D. household. Technically, I am the middle dog. I arrived last January. Molly was here first. Been her since she was a young pup. She had pups herself before E. found her. I guess that’s why she never entirely grew up.

While I may not have the seniority of tenure – I certainly do of age. At 14, I am top dog – even among the humans – if you count dog years.

I used to be a Princess. That’s what they called me. And that’s how they treated me. I do believe I am royalty. My people had to give me up, though they loved me very much. I got adopted – because I’m so adorable. Then my new human died. I went to live with his brother, but he had to go to a new home for seniors, which meant I had to find one, too. So I came back to Homeward Bound.

That’s when I met E. She has a thing for girls of a certain age (Molly excepted). There was Goldie aka Andi, and Bailey, and Daisy, and Bunny before me. And somewhere in the middle, there was Molly. I don’t know what spell she cast over E. to get her to believe she was one of us sugar-faces. She sure wasn’t at the time. And let me tell you, even though she is ten now, she still wreaks havoc all over the place.

I guess that’s why E. brought Lexie home. ‘Cause she’s a runner. She runs like a crazy, undignified girl with Molly.

She runs, period. That’s why she got herself surrendered at the age of 10. She just would not stay put. Lexie has been a bit of a challenge for E., let me tell you. And they are both a pain in the-you-know-what for me.

I’ve lived a rich long life. I’ve shared my love with a lot of humans. And I love life as much as anyone.

But certain things don’t work the same way when you turn 14. Like my back legs, for one.

And these girls just won’t quit!

I think I’m entitled to a little peace and quiet, don’t you?

Maybe I’ll leave the front door open and see how far Lexi and Molly will really run! Did I say that out loud? Oops.

Raining German Shepherd Dogs

Winter finally arrived – in March. It has been raining buckets of water, hail, mud –

and lately – German Shepherd Dogs.

The AKC does dogs no good service by listing them as among the favorite breeds. When Goldens hit the top of the chart, a wave of abandoned and surrendered golden dogs followed. German Shepherd Dogs have been making their way up the list and now rival Labrador Retrievers for the top spot. So guess what? The shelters and “found” pages are full of them.

And, increasingly, so are the fields near Homeward Bound. We have found them wandering loose dumped on the levies – and even staked outside our doors.

Kathryn’s training classes are filling up with them. That’s good. They are getting the training and socialization they need.

My husband’s co-worker found this one wandering the streets.

At less than a year old, he’s still a puppy. Apparently tied up somewhere, he had chewed through the lead that was still tightly wrapped around his neck. Her son – a fan of Superman – named him Clark.

She couldn’t keep him, but she wasn’t about to take him to a shelter, either. So she held him safe until the connection was made to Homeward Bound. We’ll work with our German Shepherd rescue friends to get him to a good home.

The Mulberry trees in our garden are strong, fast-growing, and blanket us in merciful shade on hot summer days.

But their roots invade our beds, their berries leave stains everywhere and give the doggies purple poo, and they require constant pruning to stay tidy (which they do not receive).

German Shepherds are smart, loyal, and very capable working dogs. Like our Mulberry trees, they have characteristics that make them sought after. They are also adorable fluff balls as puppies. But they are not for everyone.

Highly sensitive, they want to be with and protect their person – sometimes to a fault.

This is Addy. She’s not at all sure about me.

But she courageously put herself between her Dad and two loose, attacking dogs.

German Shepherds need continual training and socialization to humans and other dogs. They are energetic and require mental and physical activity or they will act out in boredom and frustration. They shed pillows on a daily basis. And they do everything with intensity – be it play or prey.

German Shepherds are beautiful, intelligent, devoted dogs – for the right person.
Choose the right tree for your garden.
Choose the right dog for your life.