Almost the Spring I Feared the Most

It was really balmy here in Southeast Virginia a few weeks ago, and it made me a little bit nervous. Where I grew up, March was the trickiest month of the year. It really could “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.” In other words, March could be damn cold–cold to the bone. And God help you if you didn’t have shoes that could keep your feet warm or a coat that couldn’t keep the wind from blowing right through! The ice settled in your back, arms, and shins, and made a left turn into your consciousness.   

As a kid in Northern New Jersey, when we had the one-off day in late winter that felt like spring, I worried about the forsythia that bloomed popcorn yellow on Route 287 on my way to and from Rutgers-Newark and the crocuses that poked up through the snow. What would happen if all the plants and trees thought it was spring and bloomed unwittingly, only to have the frozen Alberta Clipper descend upon the land once again? Yes, I worried about that. Because back then, the seasons were much longer than they are now. Back then, a month was a very long time, a season: Forever. 

That spring of falsehoods never occurred in my younger years, but this year came close. It began to warm up in February. It got warmer and warmer. Soon, none of us at work were wearing our coats. We had sweaters, and what I now know to be a Southern phenomenon, the men in the office began to wear shorts and “tennis shoes.” In New Jersey, we called them “sneakers,” but I’ve gradually come around to the Southern way. (Although I will never say “buggy” when I mean “shopping cart.”)

The trees began to swell with buds, and my now beloved tulips, yes, all 20 of them, began to make a showing. 

April Fools have come and gone, and I will make these observations: Last year, I had variegated tulips–red, white, bright yellow. This year, they are all white, with the exception of one yellow tulip. Also, the trees that are usually the palest of greens and reds, are all a dull brown. 

I felt somewhat somber until this week: The cherry blossoms and the redbud trees are in bloom, peonies abound in their vivid multi-colored splendor, and yellow pollen coats the cars and the lining of my lungs. Fellow allergy sufferers, I feel your pain. Fellow optimists, Oh, God, what glorious days lay ahead! 

Fragile Spring

I have no skill in the garden, but the plants keep growing,

Why am I so surprised that the bulbs I planted last fall have actually resulted in flowers? It’s kind of like wondering if life can go on after trauma. Hopefully, you plant something and it will grow; but while most people expect tulips, others, like me, expect nothing.

Inch by inch, day by day, I’m learning to expand my expectations.

Just before I planted the tulips, I turned my attention to a small tree in my yard… it was heavy with the shrouds moths leave behind when they’re really serious about eating every square inch of claimed territory. I took a long broom and carefully dismantled the sticky icky-ness of bug-dom. I honestly hoped the tree would live, but I had my doubts.

Two weeks ago, the tree, still so small and fragile, put out neon red flowers. I was impressed and humbled by the cosmic nod.

Spring, Once so Distant, is Here

I have never been great with plants – giving me a house plant was usually just the interim step before its leaves dropped off and it keeled over and ended up in the house plant graveyard; but, apparently with age comes wisdom. You have to water plants… and provide them with sunlight. 

Knowing my personal truth, I decided to splurge in the Dollar Store and by four packets of flower seeds (for a dollar). Thinking it would be another lesson in futility, but also thinking maybe this time… I dumped the entire contents of two seed packets into two not-so-big pots, stuck them in a sunny window, and actually remembered to water them. Now, I have a frenzy of little tiny marigold plants, and a blizzard of petunias. Which takes me back to last fall when my husband helped me plant about 50 tulip bulbs. I watched a how-to video, put a layer of chicken wire over the bulbs, and took my usual wait-and-see attitude. Much to my surprise, like the gazillion tiny plants in my kitchen, the tulips have poked through the surface and are on their way to becoming bona fide flowers. Amazing!

I took the photo of the red bud trees last year. They are just about to bloom right now, but the non-gardener in me is impatient for results and in need of bursting colors, so I looked back instead of looking forward. 

I’ll let you now how the tulips fare.



Time to Look Up! Or, at Least Out the Window.

planted tulips for the spring

Winter can be the loneliest time. Make sure you check on each other,
and on those who live alone.

I recently read that at the end, these three things are all that matter:

How much you loved;
How gently you lived;
And how gracefully you let go
of what no longer belonged to you.

Towards that result, I planted tulips for the coming spring. If they bloom, I will post photos here. Before the deer snack on them.

Photo (c) 2016 Virginia Galfo