Today, May 24th, it snowed a foot or more on the east coast of Canada. This is not normally May weather, even for the province of Newfoundland.
As I stepped outside in my front yard on the west coast of Canada, it looked like snow too. But a second look told me the white “flakes” on the ground were actually tired dogwood petals that had finished blooming.
As I turned to walk towards the front yard, I saw more snow. But this time it was in the shape of snowballs from my snowball bush (part of the viburnum family).
I really sympathize with the Newfoundlanders today, but I wouldn’t want to trade places with them. I like our kind of snow better.
For some reason, this is a good year for the dogwood. Local dogwoods are in fine form. Even the little one in our yard is blooming prolifically.
The Dogwood Speaks Out
One day I could be forty-five,
That’s feet in height, I mean.
My flowers are a velvet white
With just a hint of green.
Their petals number four to six,
But never all the same,
And now I’m sure you’re wondering,
“How did it get that name?”
In Sanskrit, I am named for “dag,”
Which happens to be “skewer,”
But changing “dag” to “dog” makes sense,
And questions asked are fewer.
The berries on my flowers feed
An awful lot of birds,
And deer who want to browse my twigs
Keep munching them in herds.
The bears and beavers eat my leaves,
Perhaps they think I’m salad.
Then satisfied, they amble on,
They burp and sing a ballad.
For tanning agents and for dyes,
My bark is useful too.
The Salish and the Thompsons somehow
Knew just what to do.
The Cowichans made knitting needles
From my solid wood.
They knitted sweaters with designs
As often as they could.
I’m useful and I’m beautiful,
I’m really quite a tree,
For B.C.’s floral emblem
They’ve officially chosen me.
Everyone knows what robin’s egg blue looks like. We often use that term to describe a pretty shade of blue, perhaps on some piece of clothing or a paint colour, but I think it looks best on the shell of a robin’s egg. I found this half shell two days ago on a cold miserable day when the little bird that hatched out of this shell probably wished he were back inside it.
It is a testimony to how tough the robins are, when they risk nesting so early. It is also evidence that they need as long a growing season as possible for the young birds to grow to adulthood before the fall.
Later I took another picture with the robin’s egg on a piece of white paper, next to a chicken egg as a size comparison. Somehow the “robin’s egg blue” colour looked more faded and greener. What a tiny egg it is, when you consider that the baby bird will grow to be the size of a robin.
“That’s my boy,” the robin chirps. “He’ll grow up to look just like me!”
As a point of interest, this photo of the robin in the dogwood was taken on April 29, 2016.
This year on April 25, this same dogwood tree is just getting tiny leaves and there is no hint of flowers yet. What a difference in temperature. It’s a very long, cold spring this year.
Straight out from my bedroom window, in our dogwood tree, a little robin sang, “Winter’s over. We survived another one!”
Did you know that the Pacific dogwood is the provincial flower for the province of British Columbia? Its flowers have four to six petals. That in itself is unusual, as probably the most common number of petals for flowers is five.
While researching the number of petals on a dogwood, I came across the term “Fibonacci Numbers.” The number of petals on most flowers is one of the Fibonacci numbers, but the dogwood only sometimes complies. The Fibonacci number sequence is named for Leonardo of Pisa, also known as Fibonacci, for introducing the concept of these numbers to the western world in the early 1200s.
The Fibonacci sequence is 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 …
Can you guess what the next number is going to be?
I was amazed at how it works. The next number is always the sum of the previous two.
I think someone used this sequence to figure out the rate at which rabbits breed. I think, too, that Fibonacci must have done his research in my backyard.
Math and nature are so connected, it never ceases to amaze me.