The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Mid May Day May 12, 2015

At this time of year we’re accustomed to things happening fast – holidays, end-of-year projects and performances, graduations (and for us birthdays too), but this year life seems to be happening faster than it has in Springs past. The rapid change in our climate – from forty degree days to ninety degree days – has played a part for sure. Trees have leafed out almost instantly; apple trees – which have in the past enjoyed lingering blossoms for many days, even sometimes more than a week – are now opening and shedding petals inside of two days on account of the intense and sudden heat. Our daffodils were here and gone in a few short days. This year there were very few cool days to sustain all of the new blooms. Just this evening it’s cooled off, but a passing shower has caused a few more blossoms to fall before they might have otherwise. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but what the hell. I am. Cuz me, I love Spring. In particular, I cherish those first few weeks of lovely, temperate air and not-too-cool nights. That rich, perfumed air that glides soothingly across the body… It’s the way I might imagine heaven to feel… Not sure if it’s just my age and my demographic’s propensity to exaggerate the glory of years gone by – or if it really is true that things seem different this year. I dunno, I can’t help but feel that this Spring we were jilted. After such a protracted and snow-covered winter I’d like a little time to shift gears, ya know? Jumping from Norway to Vietnam in the space of a few days is just a bit too much for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m savoring it all. I spent a good half hour today outside just smelling the passing breeze and marveling over the intense colors. I cut lilacs and lily of the valley and apple blossoms and filled my house with them.

I’ve opened all the windows and doors in hopes of transmitting these delights to every dark, dusty corner of my winter-weary home. Finally our furnace can take a well-deserved break, and we can begin to re-learn what it is to attune ourselves to the chores that wait for us on the outside…

IMG_9728Kid’s been playing a lot these days. He loves this instrument. Proud Mama.

IMG_9784His bass gets just as much love. I shouldn’t brag about this – but is was kinda cute to see him twirling his bass on stage – and then coordinating a few more with classmate Fiona. I suppose that sort of thing isn’t encouraged in the classical world. !

IMG_9855A nice shot of mom and Elihu after the concert. Apparently, someone was making goofy bunny ears just above my head. !!

IMG_9741A lot happened that evening –  it was my birthday, and Elihu had two gigs; before he played with his school orchestra at Zankel Music Center, he had a short job playing his djembe for a gallery opening for an exhibit of portraits shot by photographer Emma Dodge Hanson, who accompanied local Karen Flewelling on a recent trip to Madagascar as she visited villages, dug wells and bought livestock for the locals through her project “Drilling for Hope”. Elihu donated his drumming as well as a part of his egg sales from his own small business called “Eggs of Hope”. This is the note he wrote to Karen.

IMG_9920A few days later we made preparations for a Mothers’ Day supper at our house… we collected fiddleheads by the side of the road. (At the exhibit Elihu had mentioned in passing how ‘good the fiddlehead hors d’oevres were’ – when I asked where on earth he’d gotten them, he told me they were being passed out at the gallery. He took one, because, after all, ‘he wasn’t getting paid for the gig’. ! That’s thinking like a musician.

IMG_9915These are just a bit too opened up, but will do.

IMG_9929A big harvest.

IMG_9934Later on we had a very casual supper. But it was fun. Mom and I had martinis and we all just kind gnoshed our way through a meal, trying bits of this and that. (We ended up having roast lamb the next night!) Yes, that’s a baby chick Elihu’s holding. Until recently they were still in the living room, but thankfully now they’ve moved out. Still living under heat lamps, but on their way to becoming self-sustaining chickens.

IMG_9937For mother’s day my mom gave me a vegetable spiral cutter (an essential tool I’ve come to think!) and I gave her a retro-designed portable record player with built-in speakers. Man, I might have to borrow that thing.

IMG_9939
Grabbed the first LP on my shelf downstairs… Heartbreaking to see how the mildew has consumed them… This was fun stuff. If you want to hear what super old-school Hollywood sounds like, check out Tallulah Bankhead. Wow.

IMG_9597One can never have enough flowers. Another thoughtful gift from a student.

IMG_9086Earlier, on May Day, we’d brought Martha a May Basket of live flowers – on the condition that we take them back again after they went by, so that we could plant the bulbs in our garden. Yes, she’s still with us. But we’re getting closer to the end for sure.

Elihu sang for some of the nursing home residents.

IMG_9156Now we’re downtown at Congress Park, the place Elihu has been catching ducks for half his life. Much of the park is currently under construction, so there were far fewer ducks than usual. Nevertheless, my little birdman got his drake for the day.

IMG_9210Which is cooler, the Lamborghini in the park or Elihu’s awesome new shiny Pokemon card? It’s a tie.

IMG_9177Elihu got back into busking after a long hiatus.

IMG_9192We ran into magician Steven Brundage, another regular on Broadway. He too was into Pokemon cards as a kid, and so he did some card tricks with Elihu’s deck. So much fun.

IMG_9197We see the trick about as up close as anyone can – and he still totally had us. Mind-blowing, really. He has his own standard repertoire which he executes flawlessly. Steve told us there’s a saying about magicians: An amateur has hundreds of tricks he can do OK, a professional has just a few he can do really well. He also attributed time spent in prep as a big part of the success of a trick. Please don’t tell me though, I still want to believe. !

This kid had the good fortune to have a video go viral this past year; since then he’s made appearances on a bunch of national shows (Good Morning America among them) and happily his career has enjoyed a boost as a result. Such a sweet young man, we’re so glad for him.

IMG_8724The short-lived daffodils. So lovely.

IMG_8732Notice how little green there was just a week ago.

IMG_0232And look how different just a week later!

IMG_9001We’ve had a frenzy of activity on the feeder in these busy days of nest-building and family-making. This is a grackle – notice the yellow eye, the iridescent blue head and brown body. They’re about blue jay sized.

IMG_9858We’ve only had goldfinches a time or two before. Lucky!

IMG_8653More exciting still was this male cardinal, who was soon followed by his mate. We’ve seen maybe one in our almost seven years here.

IMG_8911But this was an absolute first. A friggin red-winged blackbird on our feeder! And he made his ‘Kwong ka reee’ sound too – right there in front of us! A major event in this household!

IMG_0071Our beautiful ornamental apple tree. It’s splitting down the middle and is likely not long for this world, so we enjoy it all the more. (That’s Austin, our goofy guinea fowl in the foreground. Our comic relief around the joint.)

IMG_0109This is the fruit-bearing apple tree further down the hill.

IMG_0111The house as seen from the white-blossomed tree.

IMG_0034On Sunday the tree was covered in buds…

IMG_0103…by today they were at their peak, then a rain began to break the blossoms apart, and the breeze sent them flying like confetti through the air…

IMG_0124

My West Coast friends may have become desensitized to the arresting quality of this color, having the bougainvilla bloom all year round as they do. But for us Yankees, this vibrant coral is a virtual shock to our system. Boo-yah!  The flowering quince is back!

IMG_0128Found this mini-tree of a wasp’s nest on a wintered-over tarp. Minute and amazing.

IMG_0214Driving down our long driveway Elihu took in all the scents of a newly-growing forest just after a rain. Aah..

IMG_0181At home we picked some of my all-time, no-question-about-it favorite flower, the lily of the valley, and Elihu assembled them carefully in a tiny vase.

IMG_0175His arrangement on the left, Thumbs Up in the background on the right.

IMG_0138A look at our house from across the bridge.

IMG_0247A similar view with the bleeding heart by the setting sun’s light. Next week this time things will look different still.

IMG_0054How we like to spend a few moments each day. We’re very fond of just doing nothing in particular – and doing it together.

 

2 Responses to “Mid May Day”

  1. Gene Burnett Says:

    Great pix! I used to love all the Cardinals in Iowa. We had pairs at our feeders almost every day. I love the female’s coloring. Not as gaudy as the males…much more subtly beautiful to my eye. Quite touching when the males feed their mates though. ;~) By the way, another example of how dumb I can be…I only recently realized that cardinals are called cardinals because they resemble Roman Catholic cardinals. Doh! GB

  2. Eric Schultz Says:

    As always, you posted a nice variety of thoughts, photos and memories.

    The picture of the grackle reminded me of when I was growing up, we had a bird bath in the backyard. Grackles would often come around and aggresively shoo away the smaller sparrows and other birds. A couple of times, I would then step out and shoo away the grackles, so that the other birds would have a chance to get at the water before the grackles came back. When the birdbath froze over in the winter, I would pour some hot water on it to melt the ice (if it hadn’t frozen all the way through) and dump everything. Then I would replace it with semi-warm water, so that the birds would have another hour or two before it froze over again, and so a number of birds would come around and take advantage of this brief treat of liquid water.

    Nature experts will tell you that we should always let nature take its course and never interfere with anythng that goes on in the animal kingdom, but I like the way that some organizations take care of orphaned elephants and oher such endangered wildlife. Without such intervention, these orphaned young animals wouldn’t stand a chance at living long enough to grow up. Since we humans have often been responsible for many species’ endangerment, as well as a number of exinctions (think of the Great Auk), it seems correct enough to take care of a few endangered species’ orphans. These young are usually orphans because human poachers have killed their mothers, so taking care of these orphans is simply the decent thing to do.


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