A spring postcard

By The Old House Web
Text by Deb Holmes
Photos by Ken Holmes

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Irises in bloom at the Holmes Family water garden in Silver Spring

Here in the mid-Atlantic where the Holmes family lives these days, spring is marked by sudden temperature swings, often accompanied by violent weather.

Two weeks ago it was in the low 40s and raining. A week later, temperatures in the mid-90s with high humidity sent us scurrying for the relative comfort of air conditioned homes and offices.

Early and extreme heat compress the spring blooming season, sometimes to a mere few weeks. Work a few days of overtime, go out of town for the weekend -- and before you know it it looks like summer around here.

Our famous cherry blossoms, for example, bloomed two weeks early and then were swept away by strong winds and rain. They were gone before most of the tourists got here for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

But for all the well-deserved publicity surrounding the cherry blossoms and equally impressive dogwoods and azeleas, other spectacular spring blooms are right outside the door.

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This snowball bush, planted the year our house was built some 50 years ago, blooms faithfully every spring. But the showy white blossoms last only a day or two. Below, a day later, and they're already falling.

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As fleeting as spring can be here, it can seem frustratingly slow to arrive in Maine.

That's where we harken from and where we own a 100-year-old lakeside cottage. Now that we live 650 miles south, and busy with the demands of careers and two teenagers, we usually head north only in the summer.

This year, however, we were lucky to sneak a few spring time days at the lake. Temperatures are less extreme here. One day it was snowing and the next it had warmed into the mid-40s -- hardly enough to send you running for air conditioning.

Signs of spring can be less obvious in Maine.

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It doesn't look much like spring from the lake, looking toward the cottage, except that the ice is off the water.

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At first glance the woods don't show much sign of spring life.

At first glance, there's barely a sign of spring in the woods and on the water. But look closer and it's there -- to be enjoyed for a day or two, before the black flies and mosquitoes arrive ...

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Throughout the woods, trout lillies, also called "Dogtooth violets" carpet the ground.

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Nearby, purple trillium grace the wooded hills.

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