Thursday, May 17, 2012


Infruition: waking up in the morning with the feeling that ripening fruit is somewhere near you.

Strolling by the south garden today I noticed color in the black currants. Looking more closely, I examined a dark berry on the first bush, to see if it was black at the stem, as that's the last part of the berry to ripen. It was. Yikes! 

Black currants are ordinarily picked in June in northeast Missouri. This year there may not be any left in June. Instead, spring 2012 is shaping up as will be the berry month of May. We're already well into strawberries, with raspberries just behind and gooseberries on deck. Our sour cherry tree looks like a holly bush in December, it has so much fruit turning red. All of these events are about 3-4 weeks ahead of schedule. Yum!

How Sweet it Is
Walking over to Dancing Rabbit last Sunday I noticed that the sweet clover is starting to bloom in earnest. This is one of our strongest honey flows and a happy time for our bees—long hours of daylight and plenty of nectar. The queens have been busily laying eggs nonstop since the weather starting warming up in March, just so that the hive population of worker bees would be at full capacity for this flow. Whence the phrase, "buzzing with energy."

For the most part, sweet clover is a weed these days. Few farmers plant it anymore as a green manure, or use it in rotation as a natural way to replenish the nitrogen rapaciously withdrawn from the soil to feed the corn monkey. Excepting us organic revisionists, most ag folks rely on anhydrous ammonia for their nitrogen—never mind that it kills the earthworms.

Fortunately, sweet clover is a hardy plant that thrives along the roadsides and in drainage ditches. In fact, it has an enormous range and I doubt you could find a two-mile stretch of back road from here to Yellowknife that didn't boast a patch of sweet clover. 

The largest of the clovers, it doesn't make good hay because of its woody stem, yet it's unsurpassed as a nitrogen fixer, and it blooms for weeks. For some reason, the blossoms come in two shades. Invariably, the yellow ones emerge first, followed about a fortnight later by the white. (When you think about it, it's just the opposite of snow, where you always find the white before the yellow.)

If you encounter sweet clover that's been knocked down with a mower, it produces a distinctive, cloying smell. Once you've experienced it, you no longer need to see the field to know that there's sweet clover wilting in the windrow. I think of it as summer perfume.

While the night's are still dependably cool (think 40s), now that the sweet clover is blooming, my infruition tells me that summer is nigh. You can take it to the bank; no need to wait for the film at 11.

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