This Week’s Plant Rant – The Anniversary of Three Mile Island

march 27, 2011
Early spring happenings in the garden: Vinca minor blooms in Alzheimer’s; ramps leafy greens are up in the valley – harvested with bulbs and served in Duke’s soup; ostrich fiddleheads begin to unfurl and are bit by the frost – are also served in the soup; bloodroot buds expose themselves; parasol mayapple leaves wrapped tight poke out; goldenseal reveals its whereabouts; yellowroot comes into bud; currant (Ribes nigrum) leaves emerge; maple buds blush red against the leafless woods; marcescent leaves of the Fagaceae – oak and beech – continue to hold on; shepherd’s purse reseeded from last year blooms in Endometriosis; daffodils continue to cheer; leucojum blooms earlier in the valley than the specimen in Alzheimer’s plot; Peggy turns 80!; Rosemary is still alive!; Forsythia brightens Leukemia, Bacteria and Earache; Petasites continues blooming in Headache; the specimens from Brookside Gardens that we thought were P. hybridus bloomed white, not purple, so they may be a taller version of P. japonicus after all; coltsfoot flowers make their debut in Allergy; spicebush transitions from bud to bloom; the red-shoulders continue to make a ruckus; titmice scream for Peter; nuthatches laugh and cry for Hank; Carolina wrens remind me to make tea; an eagle flies overhead; Molly’s beet seeds emerge;  skunk cabbage leaves elongate; the fenugreek cotyledons have sprouted; Corydalis commands attention; spring peepers peep; Bufo toad orgies trilled one warm night; the tiny and stuffed greenhouse is still standing; the stubble is finally cut down (phew); Ziziphus jujube, Aesculus, Aralia spinosa, Xanthoxyllum americana, Morella cerifera, Betula lenta, Ulmus rubra, corkscrew Salix , Rhamnus sp. gave me quite a workout as they were delicately pruned and broken limbs severely amputated; Note to self: correctly ID Aesculus and Rhamnus this year; the garden got its (as Jim Duke calls it) – blow job from Darrell’s leaf blowing crew; and speaking of Jim Duke – he has been immersed and working feverishly to compile 200 pubmed studies on Evodia, Tetradium rutecarpum, and very excited about his findings; the snow forecast that dominated the weather news petered out; the sun is shining bright as I attempt to seek solace from the local and world news by escaping to the woods, and yet I continue to dwell on the human nature of revolutions, chaos theories, butterfly and domino effects, the butterfly shaped thyroid, thyroid cancer and other cancers, 1000’s dead or missing in Asia and Africa, worker’s rights, the ingenuity of humans to split atoms for power and the horrific manifestations when nuclear fission is used for war and confronted by the powerful force of nature and human error. I worry about spinach and milk and talk to Jim about plants with radioactive protection, he talks about Tetradium, and we discuss Three Mile Island and its anniversary on March 28th, 1979.

Jim and his Howard County Dump bandmate, Les Alstat, along with Jim’s son, John, and our reliable volunteer, Mike, play Les’s song, Three Mile Island at the vesper gathering last Thursday. It is unrehearsed and down home, and I download an unedited copy of the video along with the words* in remembrance of the worse nuclear power accident in the United States.

Next week, I take a break from the garden to take a course on Microscopic Plant Identification and Characterization of Plant Botanicals from the University of Maryland and the FDA and to work at the Howard County GreenFest. I hope to provide a list of plants for radioprotection in the near future. In the meantime, continue to discover comfort, joy and surprise in the cycles of nature – spiraling year after year after year.

*Three Mile Island
Music and words by Les Alstat

Three Mile Island
Three Mile Island—
How could it not go wrong–
Three Mile Island—
The hand of man cannot for long

Maintain a system error free
Converting earth to energy
And never pay a penalty
Like three mile island.

On the Rolling Suquehanna
Near Midtown Pennsylania
Stands a tiny little Island
On Just three miles of ground.
Underneath those 4 great chimneys
A nuclear reactor has
The force to light and heat and kill
The country all around.

The Air turned radioactive
Near Midtown Pennsylvania
When the core had overheated
For the coolant had rundown.
A bubble, neglected,
Brought trouble unexpected
And scientists and engineers and
Politics to town.

The very near disaster
Near Midtown Pennsylvania
Was used by every faction
To advance its point of view.

While now is not the season
For a voice of quiet reason.
But in defense of common sense
I Put this thought to you.

Three Mile Island, How could it not go wrong,

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