Tag Archives: Willow

Mad Enough to be Sane–Beth Trissel


Pussy WillowWell, maybe. Last evening as the sun dipped behind the trees on the wooded hills above our farm, I set off with my trusty wheelbarrow heaped with pussy willows we’d rooted last year and wintered over in the garden–where they could not possibly remain–and a shovel. My aim, the farm pond in the meadow. Highly curious heifers with no regard for personal space followed at my heels like pet dogs. If I turned around, they were breathing down my neck. A little disconcerting, so I waved them back. Repeatedly. I was also slightly concerned about chancing upon a coyote, but decided with this lot keeping me company that wasn’t likely. Might not have been anyway, but coyotes do visit the meadow when making their rounds late in the evening or at night. Rarely in the day.

lab mix, our farm dog LanceMy two farm dogs chose not to go with me on this particular venture. Wise. I had to toss the pussy willows, contained in feed sacks after I dug them out of the garden, and my shovel over not one, but two, electric fences and then roll beneath the wire to reach the grassy edge of the water. For those of you who think it’s easy to dig in wet muck sucking at your shovel and your boots, I can assure you that it’s not. Already worn out after a day of overdoing it in the garden, this final endeavor took the last of my reserves. And I sank in the squelchy mud up to my boot tops.  Then my knees. Digging and clawing my way along, I shifted clumps of saturated grass and oook to get my plants into place. Then heaved myself back up the bank to the meadow and pushed my barrow home. A task I desired to accomplish before dark so I could still see the electric fences, installed, btw, to keep the cows out of the pond.

beth252celise252candcowsIf the pussy willows are happy there, we will have lovely catkins next spring. Supposedly, they prefer swampy places and the edges of streams, so this spot ought to suit them. But I reserved one to plant someplace else, just in case.

As ever, I am in pursuit of Eden on earth. My own bit of heaven. And I have the aching back to prove it.

(***Images of Lance in the muddy creek near the pond and daughter Elise on a different outing. And our oh so friendly cows. To be expected, really, as they were hand raised and bottle fed, etc).

pussy-willow-hatsI did a search on pussy willow quotes and found this rather unusual one: “Everything that anyone would ever look for is usually where they find it.”
― Margaret Wise Brown

I have no idea how that relates to pussy willows, but liked the quote. I hope to find my willows where I planted them, growing happily. I shall report back.

A Beloved Classic–The Wind in the Willows


In the spring my thoughts return to one of my all time favorite books, The Wind in the Willows.  A particularly lovely blue sky day in spring or early summer is a ‘Wind in the Willows Day.’  A few of my favorite quotes.

“The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.”
The Wind in the Willows
Rainer Maria Rilke

“Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide World,” said the Rat. “And that’s something that doesn’t matter, either to you or me. I’ve never been there, and I’m never going, nor you either, if you’ve got any sense at all.”
The Wind in the Willows

The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spell-bound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.
The Wind in the Willows

“There is nothing–absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

“All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!”

“I beg your pardon,” said the Mole, pulling himself together with an effort. “You must think me very rude; but all this is so new to me. So – this – is – a – River!”
“The River,” corrected the Rat.

“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.”

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.” ~Proverb


March is a ‘right mixy’ month, to use a country expression.  Last week’s balmy warmth was followed by snow and today is cold, cold, cold, followed by a projected warm spell and then more snow to round out this month of extreme weather contrasts.  But that’s early spring in the Shenandoah Valley.

I grieve for the foolish apricot tree lured into bloom by the warmth, then zapped by the returning chill.  This happens nearly every spring, except last year when we had a lovely luscious crop. And the tulip leaves are looking sad, but I hope they’ll revive.  The best cure for a cold snap is a soothing wash of warm spring rain.

For some reason, the birds have nibbled the blooms on the pussy willow to bits. And I feed the birds.  The feeder hangs from the remains of the old cherry tree not far removed from the pussy willow.  My solution is to root pussy willow cuttings and plant them somewhere else.  Apparently the birds like some fresh greens along with their sunflower seeds and soft silvery little ‘pussies’ will serve. Who knew?  But I love catkins so will tuck some in an out-of-the-way corner.  Perhaps down near the pond.  I also love my birds, and kitties (big bird fans).   Sometimes our loves do not meld well.

“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!  ~Mark Twain

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”  ~Doug Larson

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”  ~Anne Bradstreet

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”  ~Hal Borland

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.”  ~Virgil A. Kraft

“Where man sees but withered leaves,

God sees sweet flowers growing.”
~Albert Laighton

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”  ~Margaret Atwood

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”  ~Charles Dickens

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”  ~Mark Twain

*Pics of the Shenandoah Valley, my garden, and our gosling and kitten taken by my mom and daughter Elise.