Purple lilacs came out in the rain

They’re early this year

This morning in light rain, purple lilacs began opening all over the Seacoast.

According to herbalist and writer Brigitte MarsIn the language of flowers, lilacs symbolize wisdom, young love and remembrance. Lilac’s floral scent is used to promote harmony and increase mental abilities and invokes long forgotten emotions.

It’s the New Hampshire state flower. Looks like our state tartan has a bit of lilac in it too.

The annual lilac festival at the Wentworth-Coolidge House in Portsmouth is scheduled for May 26 this year. I hope it won’t be too late! The grounds, on the shores of Little Harbor across from the island of New Castle, are reputed to be the site where lilacs were first planted in the United States.

From the NH Governor’s Lilac and Wildflower Commission, Lilac Basics and a bit of history:

The purple lilac became New Hampshire’s official State flower, in a most colorful manner, in the 1919 legislative session. It was opposed by nine other flowers, including the apple blossom, the purple aster, the wood lily, water lily, and goldenrod. The committee’s recommendation was approved by the House on February 20th and sent up to the Senate for concurrence.

The Senate developed considerable purple lilac sentiment and also considered the buttercup. Unable to muster majority support for any flower, the 24 members of the Senate turned to a novel solution. They placed the names of three flowers in a hat, blindfolded Senate Clerk Earle C. Gordon of Canaan, and ordered him to draw a name. The purple lilac, the mayflower and the purple aster went into the lottery, and the latter won the draw.

The Senate reported its unique decision to the House, which clung to the apple blossom, and the impasse was referred to a committee of conference.

The 10-man conference committee soon became stalemated on the flower fuss, and turned to another unique solution. It asked two botanists, Professor Arthur Houston Chivers of Dartmouth and Professor Ormond Butler of the state college to arbitrate the dilemma, and agreed to accept their decision.

Within a few days the two botanists informed the conference committee that they had also become stalemated. Faced with this deadlock added to its own deadlock, the conference committee voted eight-to-two for the purple lilac. Two members stuck to the apple blossom to the bitter end.

The House and Senate concurred with the committee compromise, without further argument, and Governor John H. Bartlett of Portsmouth signed the purple lilac into law on March 28, 1919.

Did you lose a chicken?

Marsha, the parking lot chicken

This pullet seems to have free-ranged a little too far and gotten separated from her flock and coop. She has been living for at least a couple of days, maybe longer, in the woods and parking lot behind Marshalls, next to Home Depot, in North Hampton. A friend told me about her last night.

I am trying, via Facebook, to find who she belongs to. I visited her this morning and brought her some cracked corn I had left from last summer, when I had free-ranging chickens… but then a free-ranging fox made a couple of visits.

I’m getting more chicks in early June, but I don’t have a fence up around my coop yet so I didn’t attempt take this chicken home with me. (Also, I didn’t have a net for capturing her.)

Our two local Agways, in Hampton Falls and Exeter, have sold over 1,000 chicks already this year, with lots more coming in weekly (on Thursdays) for another month or so. Backyard chickens are all the rage.

Artifacts

One of many: Bud Light in the White’s Lane Woods (yesterday)

Wikipedia: A midden, (also kitchen midden or shell heap) is an old dump for domestic waste[1] which may consist of animal bone, human excrement, botanical material, vermin, shells, sherds, lithics (especially debitage), and other artifacts and ecofacts associated with past human occupation. The word is of Scandinavian via Middle English derivation, but is used by archaeologists worldwide to describe any kind of feature containing waste products relating to day-to-day human life. They may be convenient, single-use pits created by nomadic groups or long-term, designated dumps used by sedentary communities that accumulate over several generations.

These features, therefore, provide a useful resource for archaeologists who wish to study the diet and habits of past societies.

A walk through an old quarry

Rusted out car frame in an old quarry, Hampton (today)

It is a notable landmark at the end of several trails off White’s Lane. Formerly a source of gravel and sand, I assume, the old quarry is now a strange sort of amusement park criss-crossed with dirt bike and ATV tracks, decorated with cars corroded beyond recognition, studded with broken glass, heaped with middens of empty Bud Light cans, and liberally sprinkled with .22, .38, .40, 9mm, and shotgun shells.

Everything that can have holes shot in it does.

There are a couple of simple hideouts made of cut and bent saplings in the woods nearby, and at least one old cellar hole (full of beer cans) about a quarter mile away. At the far end of the quarry, on a high rim, someone has taken a chainsaw to an old tree trunk and created a rustic seat with a high back – sort of like a throne – where you can sit and survey the pit.

I’m not sure if it’s public or private land, but it’s adjacent to the Twelve Shares conservation land, accessible by many trails, and it is not posted “No Trespassing.”

It’s a secret place, but lots of people know about it.

Rare and lovely: NH peaches

Peach blossoms

A pink fire is blazing along Route 88 in Hampton Falls right now. It’s peaches at Applecrest Farm Orchards.

Pick-your-own from early August through mid-September. Applecrest grows over twenty yellow and white varietals, including Sugar May, White Lady, Red Haven, Garnet Beauty, Harko & Mericrest.

According to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, peaches won’t grow much farther north than extreme southern New Hampshire.

Peaches are members of the rose family.

Daffodils now

Statuette with daffodils, at Trinity Church in Hampton

Another bright, dry, cool day in a string of such days. But we may have snow and rain tonight and tomorrow.

Last night was the full moon, aka the Pink Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, or Egg Moon. “Pink” refers to the wild ground phlox, or grass pink, that begins to bloom around this time – probably in warmer places.

I saw the moon rise over the Hampton Marsh last night as I drove past on Route 1. It was huge, and actually quite orange. I’d call it an Easter Egg Moon.

Space.com: How the moon affects the date of Easter

Impulse purchase: tulips

Tulips on the table

Bought Easter candy this afternoon and was driving north on Route 1/ Lafayette Road in Hampton when I spotted a sign in front of Drinkwater Flowers: $10 for a bunch of tulips.

I stopped in and bought this candy-colored bunch. (There are 10 of them.)

Pretty wrapping

Drinkwater Flowers & Design has been nominated for a Best of NH award. I’ve been happy with every bouquet I’ve purchased there.

Vote for your favorite shops and services here until April 20: New Hampshire Magazine Best of NH 2012.