Goodbye, Winter; Hello, Snowdrops!

Former Grounds Supervisor Kevin Foran, known as Moose, was the steward of our campus in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, for nearly 40 years. He shares a few of the highlights he looks forward to each year as spring arrives.

As the days grow longer and warmer, I say a prayer of gratitude for having made it safely through the storms, and then I bid Old Man Winter goodbye and greet spring with enthusiasm, as if we’re meeting for the first time. As early as late February, I start to look for the first telltale signs—the snowdrops—but they usually don’t show up until mid-March. They appear on the south-facing hillside across from the Mansion Lawn—first a few at a time, and then, gradually, the whole hillside becomes dappled with patches of white. I keep my ears and eyes open, too, for the first musical sound of open water as the ice melts on Lake Mahkeenac.

Then the day lily shoots break through the mud beside the streams (though the flowers won’t blossom until July). In the wetlands near the lake, skunk cabbage, trillium, and cowslips bloom. The red buds swell on the apple trees in the orchard, and the golden buds are out on the weeping willows (I call them “laughing willows”).

Flower Power

Next, bluets, lupines, oxeye daisies, dianthus, sweet William, and coreopsis sprout in the wildflower meadows, offering a panoramic view of Mother Nature’s colors, rhythms, and textures. Over 30 years, we’ve reduced the acreage we mow from 65 to 25 by creating these meadows. We have planted a Butterfly Garden adjacent to the Kripalu Labyrinth, with poppies, milkweed, and other flowers that attract monarch butterflies.

In April, the daffodils arrive, and the flowering trees (magnolias, dogwoods, weeping cherry, crabapples, and a tulip poplar) burst into bloom. One of the most breathtaking spots on the grounds is the Mansion Perennial Garden along the East Drive—a terraced rock garden that blooms around the second or third week of May, with waves of alyssum (also called basket-of-gold) cascading down the rock face.

All Creatures Great and Small

I start listening for the chirping of peeper frogs in late March, and the honking of geese heading north. In early April, we spot wild turkey chicks wandering down from the woods behind Hill House, and families of groundhogs scurrying about on the edge of the East Drive. In May, fawns appear among the trees.

What happens in Mother Nature is not separate from human nature. Our dreams, hopes, aspirations also come alive and take root after the quiet time of rest and reflection. Spring reminds us to pause and savor the mysteries of the moment while we watch the inner and outer blossoming of life.

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Kevin “Moose” Foran, Kripalu Grounds Supervisor, was born on the day now celebrated as Earth Day, and has spent his life working in partnership with nature.

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