The Richmond Register

May 8, 2014

Basking in the spring sunshine

By Ike Adams
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.

I’d have been a bit skeptical about Ralph’s purple asparagus and his gorgeous snowball bush, both of which came through most admirably. And I would have had my doubts about the poppies that have been in our back yard for several generations and the bearded German Iris that Jeanette Todd gave us more than two decades ago. It faithfully stuns us there at the corner of the front porch every spring, but there they were, basking in absolute glory as the sun set Monday afternoon.

Also basking in those last, warm rays of the day were over a dozen tendrils of brilliantly-red bleeding hearts that, as far as I’m concerned, have literally risen from the dead.

On Tuesday morning, April 15, these same wonderful flowers were at the very height of their annual glory, even after the worst winter we’ve had since I planted them back in the late ‘90s, they promised to put on the best performance of their relatively young lives. With, a bit of attention and care, bleeding hearts can live and thrive for several decades or longer.

Anyway, on Tuesday night, April 15, and into the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the temperature dropped to somewhere around 20 degrees. When the sun came out, our bleeding-heart plant and blossoms looked like they had been cooked in a pressure canner all night long, and the nasty pile of green and pink mush that represented what they used to be had been dumped in front of my porch.

It was nothing more than a mess that looked like it would start stinking any second and had to be cleaned up right now. Loretta had tears in her eyes as she sheared what was left of the stalks off at ground level and threw them out into the vegetable garden where, perhaps, they’ll provide nourishment for the Giant Syrian tomato plant I hope to have growing where they landed come July.

My “same as a sister except we had different parents,” Angeletta Adams Fields, who lives in Midway and with whom I have had that sort of relationship since we were freshmen at Letcher High School 1963, which got us through Pikeville College and which sustains us to this day, told me the bleeding hearts would come back and bloom again.

I’ve even seen them jump back after a frost, but as much as I love and trust Angie (who has a master’s degree in biology and is retired from teaching the subject) I honestly never expected to see these bleeding hearts bloom again this year. And frankly, I seriously doubted they would ever bloom again, period.

But this is not the first time my little sis has proved me wrong about something, and let’s hope we live long enough that it won’t be the last.

So, I stood there in yard admiring the pretty little dangling hearts until it got too dark to see how to take a picture.

Unlike almost everybody else except Loretta and Ralph, I use cameras with those old fashioned view finders that you have to look through with one eye. I believe the technique is the only way to properly put a photographic subject in perspective. And if I live to be as old as Methuselah, I will never be able to make sense of taking a picture by rotating a little grid around and about.

The kids in our 4-H classes actually love learning to take photos by “looking through the peephole” as they call it. And when they discover, after just a few minutes, that they are taking far better pictures, and much easier too, we see them using the viewfinder any time they have that option.

So, while promising myself that shooting the poppies, the iris and the bleeding hearts while the morning dew is still glistening on them, I plopped down in the swing to enjoy the last few minutes of the first short-sleeved evening we’ve had in quite a while.

For whatever reason, I glanced across the meadow and I’d bet my chin hit my belly button because there it was. On again, off again, that chartreuse glimmer was darting all about my mail box. It was a lightning bug that just two weeks ago would not have made the list of things I’d see on May 5, 2014.