The cherry trees and peach tree have no blossoms on them at all. The cherry trees had the buds that should open into blossoms, but when they opened, they were empty. At first I worried that I’d done something wrong. But on connecting with other gardeners in Maine I learned that many people are facing this problem with all their stone fruits. Apparently, the most likely cause is the weird weather over the winter, with mild times alternating with a deep freeze. They didn’t stand a chance.
I feel sad about it–there were really so many buds on the cherry trees this year. In prior years we just had a very few blossoms, and I was hopeful that this year we’d see our first real fruiting. I also feel glad that the leaves are opening–I heard that some people’s trees actually died. I am glad ours are alive. But this is a lesson about climate change. Global warming increases the unpredictability of the weather, and the temperature swings are part of that. What food we can grow becomes more unpredictable.
We don’t rely on our little garden for our food–we are really just learners in this process. When we get a harvest, it is exciting–and thankfully, we still have peaches from last year’s abundance in our freezer. It looks like the blueberries and raspberries will be fine. I’ve already eaten sea kale and some asparagus. But I can feel the vulnerability of what it means to face a shifting climate, even in these small ways. How many larger ways are unfolding all over our planet? Severe heat and drought in many places, floods in other regions. For too many people actual starvation is real. I feel so powerless in the face of these huge problems.
When we first moved to this place, our hope was to form a deeper connection to the earth and all her creatures, through our connection to this small piece of land. I have to say it isn’t easy. We know so little, and we are surrounded by challenges larger than we are. For just one example, Margy spends hours pulling and cutting invasive plants around the borders of our land–Asian bittersweet, multiflora rose, Norway maples. The way it is with invasives, that job will never be over. Plants have their own personalities, and some are very aggressive even if they are native plants or desired plants, so there is the endless pulling and pruning to keep things in some sort of balance. (Oregano and wood anemone, I’m looking at you! Everywhere!)
But maybe these are the lessons we are learning about making a deeper connection to the earth. Plant by plant is the only way we get to know them. Whole Indigenous communities were needed to foster the balance of all beings, and we are just two old non-Indigenous humans. Some of our neighbors seem to be in a similar venture to ours, and others seem just the opposite.
Still, I have to hope that the love we offer to this place can be a small seed of healing, maybe even its own “aggressive” form of healing, spreading into the broken places. I draw hope from the birds who seem to multiply and who enjoy the yard so much. I draw hope from the violets blooming everywhere they want to bloom. I draw hope from the turkey who visited the other day and made a dust bath in the patchy lawn. There is something so wonderful about a community of creatures who share one place.