Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Spring Flower Revue

Spring is here!  Actually it has been here for quite some time.  In mid-December a silly narcissus decided to awaken from its hibernation and bloom in our yard.  It has been freakishly warm, but I will be the last one to complain.

I'm overjoyed that my favorite spring flower has finally appeared: the flowering quince.  Quince is a nasty thorny bramble in any other season, but when its flowers appear, all gorgeous vermilion, the contrast between stark grey branches and luscious flower makes my heart melt.  I remember going for a midwinter run once upon a time, and coming across a quince in full bloom.  Surprised and amazed by a bramble bush with such a display of beauty, I stopped my run and stared at it for many long moments, soaking up inspiration and joy.  I have loved the flowering quince ever since then.

Other things are coming up in the yard at last, too.  The purple crocuses are mostly clustered in the warm sections of the yard, but there is one brave explorer I found wandering through the underbrush all alone.

There is also the usual swathe of daffodil greenery under the grapevine, but they are packed in so tightly and in such a shady spot that they never bloom.  C and I keep meaning to dig them up and spread them out.  It's their only chance to ever live a real flower's life, but for some reason I never feel like digging up damp soil and bulbs in the shade on a breeze 50-degree day.  And then in the fall, when all the daffodil leaves are hidden, I would not even know where to dig for all the vines and summer weed-jungle in the way.  Sigh...  There is much to do in our yard!

Still, there are a few intrepid daffodils that have sprouted here and there and are happy enough where they are to bloom.  Some are normal looking, and others are just crazy.
Fancy Daffodil
One of our neighbor's little girls just loves to look at flowers.  Whenever she sees us, she runs over to ask if she can come into our garden and look at all the flowers.  C usually leads her by the hand from flower to flower, letting her sniff and admire them.  Then she runs home and begs her dad to plant flowers in their yard.  Maybe this year I can help her plant a little flower garden of her own.

For Christmas, the neighbor girls gave C and me a bluebird house.  Their father says he keeps seeing bluebirds everywhere and thought maybe one would like to live in our yard.  I think he's actually seeing blue jays, which are a quite different thing, but the thought was sweet, and who knows?  Maybe a bluebird family would like to live in our yard.  I've never seen a bluebird here in Durham.  With all the cats nearby, I kind of doubt the baby bluebirds' chances of survival, but we do have a large songbird population that enjoys the sunflower seed selection at our bird-feeder, and perhaps a fearless wren will nest here if the bluebirds won't.

C says that bluebirds like to nest in houses that back up to woods and face a large clearing, so we mounted the house on the back fence and are hoping for the best.  In front of it the bridal veil bushes are budding and popping out in little tiny white blossoms like miniature popcorn strands.

Bluebird house
Soon there will by hyacinth, tulips, snowdrops, dogwood, honeysuckle, gardenias, and all the rest.  But while we say hello to all these spring flowers, we say goodbye to another.  The camellias are all but done, and more lay spent and brown on the ground than are blooming on the bush.  Those that bloom turn brown with the slightest heat and fall heavily.  The fat camellia shrub stands full and green surrounded by its fallen rosettes, which are still beautiful though brown and look like they belong on Victorian dresses.

Next week C and I are going to build new garden boxes and plant lettuce.  Maybe even peas!  Flowers are all well and good, but summer's bounty of food is just around the corner.

Camellia carnage

Sunday, January 8, 2012


The church lessons today were all on service and, as we always do, C and I discussed the topic on our way home.

"How are we supposed to love all of our neighbors?  Even the ones that murder?!" he wondered.

"Maybe the best love we can give them is to stop them from murdering anyone else?" I mused.

"Also," C continued, "how do I let people serve me?  I don't need anyone to do anything for me!"

It's true.  C is very self-sufficient, but whether he likes it or not I am going to cut his hair this week!

Anyway, I thought back on the previous week and all the ways C has given service to people around him.  He stays at home most days, but he is always on the lookout for ways to help people.  Mostly me, but he happened to provide a tremendous service to the neighborhood this week.  He was inside the house cleaning out the front room (it's going to be my parlor!) and he smelled smoke.  It didn't smell normal so he went outside to investigate, only to discover the next-door neighbor's front lawn on fire.  No one was home, and all the dry oak leaves on the grass had been ignited by some passerby's cigarette (we guessed). Who knows how long it had been smoldering, and if left unchecked it could have caught the picket fence on fire and then the house.  C retrieved a fire extinguisher from our house and put the fire out.  One wonders how many cars had driven by and done nothing.

C served me last night when we went to the church to change the bulletin board, which is my job.  I pretty much just sat and watched while he did all the work for me--stapling the fabric to the board, leveling the posters, hanging up the high things and then carrying everything out to the car when we were done.  He even coached me at basketball when we took a break in the church gym.

And every day he serves the wild birds by putting a handful of sunflower seeds in the feeder out back.

Now he is serving his family by visiting his elderly parents, while I sit at home being anti-social.  Almost as soon as he drove away, I wished I would have gone with him.  But then again, I want to curl up under the electric blanket and watch Downton Abbey at nine.  I think I have a lot to learn about service from my husband!  I love him so.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ancient Ideas

Happy New Year!  I decided to turn my i-tunes on random shuffle and pretend that the first song would be an indication of how the new year would be.  Well, "Sad Status Quotient" by the Pernice Brothers is not the happiest song that could have popped up, but I will take what optimism I can from it.  The lyrics begin, "Trying hard to be a better person.  Hindsight's 20 and my visibility is worsening.  All the acolytes are choking, but my faith in life's unbroken.  Wanna leave this room better than I found it..."  Then it goes on to mention survivors being picked out of train-wrecks and plane crashes.  Well, that's pretty depressing unless you stop and think, well at least there were survivors!  The singer goes on to realize that his seemingly new ideas are actually ancient, and that people live on even when waiting for the sky to fall.  And the harmonica is so wistful and gorgeous.

None of this has anything to do with my own life except that I do want to be a better person, and I've been having kind of a bad day.  Sigh.  I know it will get better!  And I know that I can be a better person if I just start trying harder.  Mostly I'm just depressed that I forgot to hand in my tithing check at church today and I wanted to give it to Bishop before the new year started.  I know, I know.  Not the end of the world.  But then I got home and got locked out accidentally and C couldn't hear me pounding on the back door!  I had to go find my emergency whistle which I keep in the garden in case of stranger danger.  Then he heard me.  And it would have been fine to be locked out because it was a gorgeous sunny afternoon of 65 degrees in December, which I love because I can read outside without mosquitoes biting me, but I was starving and the only thing remotely edible in the backyard is the sunflower seeds in the bird-feeder under the oak tree, but I'd have to fight the chickadees and woodpeckers for it!  When I finally did get some food and go outside to read, thick grey clouds were covering up the sun and the wind was cold.  Now I think it's going to get really cold, as a real winter should be.  So much for the balminess we've enjoyed so far.

Anyway, my faith in life is indeed unbroken, and my goals for the new year include leaving this room (literally and metaphorically) better than I found it.  I plan to do good, be wonderfully happy, and accomplish things.  Who's with me?