Category Archives: Around The Hill

Black Locust

Many years ago during a Summer drought when mowing the yard became unnecessary for a couple of weeks, this tree became prominent in the yard.  When rain returned and the yard wanted mowing, on a whim, I cut around the tree and let it grow.

Now, taller than the house it grows north of, this tree has become somewhat of an indicator of just how fast decades pass.

Wikipedia reports:

The black locust is native to the eastern United States, but the exact native range is not accurately known as the tree has been cultivated and is currently found across the continent, in all the lower 48 states, eastern Canada, and British Columbia. The native range is thought to be two separate populations, one centered about the Appalachian Mountains, from Pennsylvania to northern Georgia, and a second westward focused around the Ozark Plateau and Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Black locust’s current range has been expanded by humans distributing the tree for landscaping and now includes Australia, Canada, China, Europe, India, Northern and South Africa, temperate regions in Asia, New Zealand, Southern South America.[8]

Black locust is an interesting example of how one plant can be considered an invasive species even on the same continent it is native to. For example, within the western United States, New England region, and in the Midwest, black locust is considered an invasive species. In the prairie and savanna regions of the Midwest black locust can dominate and shade open habitats.[9] These ecosystems have been decreasing in size and black locust is contributing to this, when black locust invades an area it will convert the grassland ecosystem into a forested ecosystem where the grasses are displaced.[10] Black locust has been listed as invasive in Connecticut and Wisconsin, and prohibited in Massachusetts.[1]

In Australia black locust has become naturalized within Victoria, New South Wales, South, and Western Australia. It is considered an environmental weed there.[8] In South Africa, it is regarded as a weed because of its habit suckering

Bleeding Heart

Snow drops are long gone, lilacs faded, peonies swollen to near bursting.

These bleeding hearts punctuate the yard as green now assumes its full summer presence, fleshing out leaves, filling woods, surfacing meadows as first cutting, late this year, nears.

Finally sun this week, respite from days on end of cold May rain. Seeing so many Mays, some damp and chill, some near tropical, makes one somewhat patient for Summer to express herself, reveal which demeanor this year she’ll assume.

Some Summers keep us pale skinned and fleeced almost the whole time that they’re around. Some leave feet, mostly bare or shod in flip flops through Dog Days, sole toughened and tan lined.






It’s always nice to see the first rainbow of the season. Sure, one can remember what the last one looked like, or view a photo of a rainbow. But, there is nothing like the process of recognizing that conditions are agreeable for a rainbow to form, casting a gaze out the proper window, acknowledging the presence of the colors as they ease out of grey, and enjoying their presence, no matter how fleeting, as they fade back into sky.

Common Periwinkle

Even more so than usual, any gaze cast on the neighborhood illuminates beauty.

Far across the valley, buds, impatient to leaf, nearly glow white, yellow, gold, rust, and every shade of green.

Light green conifer tips shed brown husks that had jacketed them since late Autumn.

Now pollen clouds puff from limbs like powder, like snow did this Winter when wind first picked up ending a snowfalls calm.

Nearby flowerbeds promise Peonies, explode with Periwinkle, begging the question “to where is venomous Myrtle running?”.

In between near and far, Lilacs range every purple shade of which they are capable.

Black Squirrel

Grey squirrels frequent the yard. It’s always nice to see their big fluffy tails. It’s not uncommon to see squirrels with near hairless tails especially in town, where they dine on lead wires or flashing. 

A couple of years ago, red squirrels chewed their way into the garden shed and wreaked havoc gnawing and nesting nearly everywhere!

This handsome fellow is the first black squirrel I’ve ever noticed in the yard. I hope that he is well behaved, and visits often!

Wikipedia reports:

The black squirrel occurs as a “melanistic” subgroup of both the eastern gray squirrel and the fox squirrel. Their habitat extends throughout the Midwestern United States, in some areas of the Northeastern United States, eastern Canada, and also in the United Kingdom. The overall population of black squirrels is small when compared to that of the gray squirrel. The black fur color can occur naturally as a mutation in populations of gray squirrels, but it is rare. The rarity of the black squirrel has caused many people to admire them, and the black squirrels enjoy great affection in some places as mascots. In several U.S. states, as well as in Canada and the United Kingdom, black squirrels have been introduced into the wild in the hope of increasing their numbers.

Spring Green


Pastel green seems to be most prominent this spring, along with smatterings of puce amongst still grey yet to bud limbs. As they have steadfastly through the winter, evergreens punctuate the hillside.

The palest and the darkest greens, at least for a while longer, now compare, contrast, side by side.

Geese and Buds


There aren’t many more reliable signs of spring than buds and geese. 

Already, ski season seems like a distant memory, even though we were skiing less then three weeks ago. In that time, the snowpack from “The storm of a lifetime” receded gracefully.

Mud season has been more than tolerable. Sunshine and wind has kept the quagmire that was the driveway passable. Mostly all the ruts have eased back into the surface.

Plenty of raking to be done, limbs to be cleared, grass soon to be mown. 

Breath is already missing the sharp sensation of single degree air in the lungs. Bared limbs have already basked in sunshine that will soon be strong enough to be felt in bones.

As the seasons change, so do our favorite sensations.


Red Buds


The hillsides are awash in pale hues of red. Buds! Soon  to be leaves are finally becoming prominent.

Mornings still start with near winterish temps in the thirties. By mid-morning, however, it’s hard to believe the thermometer – the sun heats everything to near Summer warmth.

Daffodils are noticeable, snow drops have come and gone. It’s Spring!



Winter seems to want to hold on.. Earlier this week, above, grass greened up by warm weather before Stella, snow covering everything else except the mud and ruts of the driveway.

Today, a beautiful day – cool but sunny and breezy.

All in all, mud season is going well, as the snowpack left by Stella is gracefully diminished. Spring sun is drying everything out. 70’s forecast for next week!