Apple Blossom Time

Red Delicious Apple Tree

Red Delicious Apple Tree

LAKE MACBRIDE— Apple blossoms are in full bloom, and it never lasts for long. Once bees pollinate, the petals fall in snowy softness, carpeting the ground as quickly as they went from pink to bloom.

One of the farms where I work is an apple orchard— a resource for learning about my four trees. I recently sent a question via email.

“Can last winter’s pruning cause a lot of blooms this spring?

I pruned my trees and the Red Delicious tree is loaded with blooms like it was last year. Not sure the pruning helped that, but I was expecting very little fruit because it was a branch buster last year.”

The answer came promptly:

“I spoke to my dad about your question. He said that pruning and the number of blossoms aren’t directly related. The exact reason is quite a long answer, but he said that you must just have a good tree!”

That’s a good enough answer for me, “it’s a good tree.”

I did my first experiment in making flour tortillas at home yesterday. They came out more flatbread than tortilla, so it needs more work. Trouble is we’re not running a test kitchen here and need to consume what we cook. We’ll enjoy the flatbread, but wait a couple of weeks for round two.

The dough recipe included some baking powder, which leavened the bread. Next time, I’ll omit it and see if the result is more tortilla-like.

There is a zero percent chance of precipitation through sunset today, so hopefully the ground will dry out, enabling preparation of more garden space for transplanting. There is a lot to get into the ground before Memorial Day.

The row croppers took advantage of last week’s drying conditions, and according to the USDA crop report, 70 percent of the corn and 20 percent of the soybeans are planted, putting spring planting right on its traditional schedule.

Reflecting on time spent with Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) last week, I am glad I participated in their national meetings. My primary interest in the group is their long history of nuclear abolition work. Dr. Ira Helfand from Massachusetts has been a prominent figure in the nuclear abolition movement, and it was good to spend some time with him. Likewise, the Washington, D.C. staff was there, along with chapter leaders from around the country. The organization has expanded its reach beyond abolition to include the relationship between health and climate change, and toxic substances in the environment.

I broached the topic of the effectiveness of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in effecting policy change. In today’s political environment, more people associate with NGOs, and a lot of people make a living doing that work. My concern is that in the perpetual chase for grant money, the number of funders is reducing, and whatever may have been successful last year, is out of step this year.

In Washington, there is a small group of people working on nuclear disarmament and they talk among themselves constantly. This includes people in NGOs, the U.S. and foreign governments and citizen advocates. I met a number of these people during my treaty ratification advocacy work in 2009. However, there is a certain self-interest they have in keeping conversations alive that perhaps may be better off placed on the back burner.

We are entering an era when regardless of which political party dominates the Washington conversation, the same work goes on, and currently it is work that includes refurbishing the nuclear weapons complex with a great diversion of funds. A person can’t be happy about that.

Nonetheless, while NGOs may not be as effective as I would like, they are currently the only game in town, so I plan to re-engage with PSR over the near term. The work will include rolling out a program on nuclear abolition to local Rotary clubs, working in between gardening and yard care sessions.

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