Dogwood Days, Moonless Nights

My neighbours, The Trees, have started to fill out their summer canopies in a hundred-and-three shades of verdant brilliance, and my egg roosters have begun to fight like brothers do, so it won’t be a long summer for them; as soon as the first blood is spilt between them, into the freezer all but the best will go. I have four pullets that still believe they belong in the porch tub with the tiny-yet birthday birds, no matter how many obstacles I put up to bar their way, and hosing off the porch twice a day with a healthy splash of bleach has become a regular thing.

Carrie, my lethal Buff Orp egg mama, who regularly runs around with other’s blood on her jaded bully face, suprised me when she took on a hawk by herself a few days ago; the hawk made the unforgivable error of dive-bombing one of Carrie’s teenagers, and she wasn’t having it. There’s a first time for everything, and I watched this mean, nasty hen do something pretty damned close to genuinely maternal as she puffed herself like a fast-winged blowfish, talons flailing, grabbed that startled hawk in both feet and started ripping his wing apart in her angry little beak. A few seconds later, a pride-battered bird of prey with a giant hole and two long dangling feathers at the end of one wing was circling lopsided overhead and Carrie, spitting mad, was hopping noisily around the yard, wild-eyed, wings outstretched in daring posture, screaming at him to come on back down for Round 2. I suppose, then, that it’s safe to leave the flock unattended for short periods under Carrie’s capable supervision.

This is the time when the dogwood blooms and, lucky me, I found a stand of redbud I must have missed last year not far from the house along the road. I’ve missed Tennessee’s smoky redbud trees, especially the big, two-storey-tall deep violet one in Miss Robin’s back garden, but I’m not a big fan of dogwood. Once, when I was visiting the Benedictine sisters in Martin, Kentucky, I spied a plaque on the wall in one of the hermitages (where I’d been asked to change some sheets) that told “The Legend of the Dogwood Tree.” Totally ruined dogwoods for me forever. There’s a time to make correlations between faith and nature…turning flowers into the Wounds of Christ seems cheap and unsavory to me. Besides, everyone knows that the reason dogwood flowers look the way they do is because of the time that a dogwood tree fell in love with a marauding moth, so she made a gown to match his wings that she thought would please him so he would stay…but he got splatted on a windshield, never to return, and she and all her sisters have been waiting patiently for him every year since, not knowing his true fate.

I was going to have this place blessed on the Feast of St. Isadore, but I called the priest friend who was going to oblige me earlier today and cancelled. There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which is that a house blessing is supposed to be a celebration, and I’m not really in a place to do that right now. But I set out the ferns and geraniums, and my mostly-dead peace lily, bought some rosemary and lavender to put in along the front steps, and I planted some sunflower seeds down below. We’ll see what comes. Sunflowers always make sense, no matter what else is going on in the world. There’s always next year, maybe.

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