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Katy Burns: Deer, oh dear!

  • A deer feeds in Concord in this 2016 file photo. AP

Monitor columnist
Published: 5/12/2019 12:40:17 AM

It was an unexpectedly balmy day a few weeks ago, and to celebrate the first signs of spring my husband impulsively brought home two lovely little bowls crammed with colorful pansies, one for the front stoop and another for a small table on our backyard patio.

They were delightful, a preview of the welcome season ahead.

And then, after several days of cheerful color at our door, chomp.

Bambi had struck again. All those pretty pansies on the porch were gone, devoured in mere minutes by deer, otherwise known (in our beleaguered household) as hooved rats on steroids. Delicately graceful creatures to see, sure, but in their hearts villainous to the core, intent on wreaking havoc on the gardens of hapless humans.

They must have been looking for dessert after their late winter feast on the once full shrubs taking winter naps. A prominent small-leafed rhododendron is comical if tragic, sporting a hem of blooms on branches that wintered beneath the snow and a crown of more blossoms on branches too high for the ruminants to reach. Between them are the bare stubs of thoroughly nibbled branches.

Other shrubs were also given a drastic winter pruning by the four-legged predators, who delight in the feasts laid out by the two-legged critters living among them.

And so it goes as northern New England wakes up from what seemed a too-long winter.

Minor spring bulbs – glories-of-the-snow and snowdrops – enjoyed their moments in the spring. Early blooming shrubs, witch hazels and flowering quince, strutted their stuff, while tulips and daffodils added splashes of color to the drab landscape.

Early flowering trees – cherries and magnolias – were particularly beautiful, and flowering crabs are about to pop into bloom. Forsythias of all kinds might finally be fading, but they were abundant, with glorious clouds of yellow for weeks.

Deciduous trees are sporting tiny leaves, and it’s hard to imagine that in a very few short weeks they’ll be fully in leaf to provide welcome respite from the hot summer sun to come.

All sorts of perennials are pushing their way out of the ground – the peonies seem to be growing most exuberantly – and even the pathetic expanse of green stuff that masquerades as a lawn at our house is starting to green up.

The whole neighborhood seems to have caught spring fever. Machines of all sorts – mowers, blowers, wood chippers – are, literally, roaring back to life. Motorcycles cruise our highways, and blessedly more silent bicycles are also back on our streets.

Golf clubs are being dragged out of closets and stowed in car trunks, so they’re handy should the promise of a particularly fine summer day beckon their owners to play hooky on the links for an afternoon.

Boats that spent the winter shrouded by tarps in driveways are being uncovered and spiffed up, waiting to be hauled to rivers and lakes. People are opening up their camps and replenishing supplies for the season.

And it’s a good idea, since you’re throwing open the windows to let spring breezes sweep winter away, to make sure the guest room linens are fresh – because this is the season when out-of-town relatives and friends descend on the Granite State.

So let the sunshine banish winter’s staleness, and enjoy the view of unfurling leaves. The season is fleeting, and summer – with its gloriously long and lazy days – will be here in what will seem no time at all.

And be glad you’re not in Minnesota, which just last week suffered through a two-day snowstorm that dumped more than 10 inches on the state’s citizens. At least our seasons, like all decorous New Englanders, usually know their place.

(“Monitor” columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)

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