Last weekend, Queen Victoria’s Birthday, which we celebrate so carelessly, the pollen came down in drifts, painting with gold everything the tiny particles touched. You could see it drifting on the air like a fine mist. It left swirls of itself on the glass tabletop that I had just so carefully cleaned and polished. It collected in corners and on the edges of the paving stones like smudges of mustard. It clung to the lining of our lungs, making us cough and sputter.
The Siberian elms are now beige with seed clusters as they rush to reproduce themselves. What’s going on? Plants listen to the beat of a drummer we cannot hear and they are soothsayers of the future to those who know how to listen with their eyes. Is there a very hard winter coming? Has all this pollen anything to do with the drought that we all feel in the ground even though it appears denied by the gentle spring rains of May?
Time, I suppose, will give voice to these portents, but for now, there is joy in seeing the squirrel carry her babies, one by one, across the narrow margin of the fence over the just planted baskets and under the cedar to a destination unknown. Squirrels are apt to do this, moving their babies from time to time, as a protection against predators.
The wrens, too, are back in the ceramic birdhouse in front of the kitchen window, ousting the pretentious chickadee that had tried to butt in. Now the tiny birdhouse rocks with her gentle movements, while he steals up so cautiously to deliver her a constant supply of insects.
As for me, I am happy digging in the garden on my hands and knees, rooting out weeds and encouraging perennials. I am breathing in the happy bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, that populate the soil and are said to stimulate the production of serotonin and norepinephrine as we breathe it in. According to some, the increased levels of serotonin can also make us smarter, or at any rate may improve our cognitive abilities.
It has been raining constantly, keeping me out of the garden and glued to my computer. The rain comes down in sheets for awhile, then eases off to a mere drizzle. All the flowers look sorry and bedraggled, but the foliage sparkles with jewels of water. It dampens down the pollen which still lingers in the air and sends ripples of green through the trees and across the meadows.
When the sun next appears, the world will be lush with emerald and gold. The pretty annuals that I planted last week will overflow their baskets and pots and we can sit out to watch the wrens rock gently in their little ceramic house.