Wednesday, April 01, 2015

April Fool: Checking in with the Peach Tree

This year, I’ve been posting a picture of my backyard peach tree on the first of each month.  The arrival of March and the official start of Spring gave me a good deal of hope.  But the continuing cold (not to mention the spurts of snow last night) haven’t delivered much in terms of blooms.  The peach tree is holding its own.

Up close, there are small signs of progress.

The peach tree’s neighboring bulbs are pushing forward, a form of garden peer pressure.

Surely this month will bring some warmth and a resulting explosion of blooms and green.  I live in hope.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Real Life Texts with T: Whining edition

The backstory:  I long for Spring and my switch to warm-weather clothing has made that longing a more frigid affair.  Figuring that T should share my pain, I complained to her.

Me:  Why won’t Spring hang out with me?  I ask nicely.

T:  Spring is having a rough patch of PMS….check back next week.

I have high hopes for April.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Real Life Conversations with the 7th Grade: Swarm edition

The backstory: Typically, our Middle School students wait outside the classroom if their teacher isn’t in the room.  Since 12 and 13 year olds are notoriously loud and self-absorbed, if a teacher isn’t careful, that means a swarm of kids jammed at the door, blocking the hallway.  Most teachers encourage the kids to line up instead and by universal agreement, Mr. S, who teaches math, is the best at managing this process.  Earlier this week, my 7th graders were waiting for me,  loudly blocking the entire hallway, as they are wont to do.  I greeted them and sought order.

Me:  Line up, folks, I want to be just like Mr. S.

(assorted students scramble into a sadly disorganized line).

Me:  Seriously, why can’t my lines be like Mr. S’s lines?  I want to be like S!

JZ (quiet student at the front of the line):  So, more math homework?

I laughed out loud as the class filed in.  There’s worse ways to spend my days.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Your Weekly Spring Bulbs: Week 2

When January rolls around, it’s Winter’s first full month and I expect cold and snow.  After all, it’s Winter and that’s how it goes.  The January days are slowly getting longer and the cold seems bearable just one month in.  February pops its head and seems rather cute with just 28 days to greet with mittens that still seem fun to wear.

February usually takes its toll but by then Spring seems close.  Our February was colder than average by 15 degrees and that took its toll this year.  I had great hopes for March, but that month has been very uncooperative.  Our March turned out to be the snowiest month this Winter.  It came in like a lion and has only a few more days to go out like a lamb.  

Happily, there are signs of continuing progress in my flowerbeds.

I wouldn't say there's been a lot of progress since last week, but at least the bulbs that have emerged are holding the line.  I'll take it!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Back to It

For the last two weeks, school has been on Spring Break.  For the first week, JT went to Florida with the baseball team.  I went to school on the days he was gone and worked from home  for the second week, with ample time off to get lots of Spring chores completed.  I cleaned the windows, dusted the baseboards, took after my bathroom grout with a bleach pen, cleaned closets and generally got myself ready for the juggernaut that is the last segment of the school year.

Part of getting myself ready involved some relaxation.  I slept in; read some good books; went for walks outside; cooked some new recipes; and relished the extra daylight.

I also swapped out my closet and brought Spring clothes to the forefront.  Gone are the tights, wool skirts and heavy sweaters.  In their place, I’ve got cotton sweaters, t-shirts, lightweight skirts, and warm-weather shoes.  Winter coats, hats, mittens, and scarves were washed and put away.  Spring jackets and scarves have replaced them on the coat rack.

Naturally, today is forecast to be a sunny 41 degrees.  4-1.  I am wearing a linen skirt, a pink cardigan sweater, loafers, and a scarf.  It is as if I am involved in some sort of fake-it-’til-you-make-it Spring experiment.  My pride (and the office area-heater) will have to keep me warm.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Snow

I made some pictures of my backyard the morning after the March 20 snowstorm.  The snow was heavy and wet and it outlined every branch and surface in the yard in a precise and beautiful, if infuriating, way.

It was just a little more lovely because it’s the end of March and Spring has officially begun.  As I looked out in the yard yesterday morning, I was convinced that this heavy snow and the cold that it ushered it in can’t possibly last.

In fact, by the end of the day, the yard looked altogether different.

We are still in a patch of unseasonable cold, with temperatures more than 10 degrees below normal.  It will be a few more weeks before the trees begin to show their Spring colors.  But Spring is more glorious when it has been well-earned and I can be a patient woman.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Jesus Christ

I have a hard time believing that the folks who pop into CVS to buy workout and travel magazines are also looking for their Jesus fix, but the Mormon missionaries who were entering the pharmacy as I was leaving it may know better than me.  

Friday, March 20, 2015

First Day of Spring

First day of Spring or not, we’re having one last snowstorm today.  It’s a pretty, steady, wet snow that covers the grass but hasn’t begun to stick to the roads.  We’re safely tucked in for the last day of Spring Break with a load of basketball to keep us warm so we can afford to be rather sanguine about more snow.

A review of my blog and my Twitter comments for the last three months indicates that the primary topic of my thoughts is the weather.   It’s as if I am an elderly lady with nothing else to talk about.  Nothing could be further from the truth, though I find that as I age, the natural world has more and more importance in my life and claims on my thoughts.

Some of my strongest, earliest memories center around the outdoors.  I can vividly smell and feel the carrots my dad let me pick from his backyard garden when we lived in Martinez, California and I was 4 years old.  I can smell the majesty of the pine forests of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a place we visited so often in my childhood that I’ve surely lost track of the number of times we drove those roads.  I can still feel the cold of Billie Creek on my feet and the warmth of the sun on the high rock overlooking the creek where my sister and I sat and tried to dry the sneakers we had been ordered to keep out of the water.

Today, more than 25 years since I left California, a foggy day reminds me of my hometown in the winter and instead of feeling desolate, the fog feels like home.  Where ever I have lived, my mood has been shaped by the climate and time spent outdoors in it.  From hazy sunsets over the green hills in Tennessee to amazing sunrises over the expanse of prairie in Nebraska, these scenes form my strongest memories of places.  Long ago I realized that my favorite season is always the one we are just about the enter.  So it is that Spring’s promise of sunny warmth, blooms and abundant green feels like a happy prospect today, even if Mother Nature isn’t quite ready to leave Winter's charms behind.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Your Weekly Spring Bulbs: Week 1

Since the new year began, I’ve posted pictures of my changing amaryllis bulb every Thursday.  Last Thursday, at week ten, the blooms were complete.   It’s time for a new bloom-related weekly posting and the tulip and daffodil bulbs in the front yard flowerbeds are just the ticket.  Things are looking promising.

Much as the amaryllis sustains my spirits in Winter’s dark cold, the bulbs in the front yard provide me happiness in the Spring.  Checking them each week is a reminder to stop and admire the flowers; to live in the moment even when the days and weeks are busy.  Spring is a season of hope and that makes the here and now even more pleasing.

I have always said that one of the reasons I garden is to remember the rewards of patience.  Spring blooms from bulbs planted in the Fall is an object lesson in just that.  That it is a beautiful one is simply icing on the cake.

Even tomorrow’s forecast of snow on the first day of Spring can’t dampen my enthusiasm.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Cleaning

When I was a teenager, I discovered that when my sister and I were away from home, my mother would clean in our absence.  For years, I thought this was some sort of strange psychological condition driven by the fact that my mother loves a clean house.  Then I had a child and the same impulse seized me.  I clean while JT is away and then sit back to reap the rewards of my tidy home, which stays tidy because of the child’s absence.

When Spring Break first began, I ordered JT to clean his room before he left for Florida or I would do it for him and bill him for my time.  He didn't tidy up before he left (rather the reverse, actually) so I undertook the threatened task.  I found a box of unopened granola bars, a plastic bag with two aged tangerines and a rotten banana skin, assorted sports jugs with fetid water inside them, and a vast collection of previously read Sports Illustrated and ESPN magazines.  They have been removed and the floors cleaned.  Now visitors to his room (i.e., me, dropping off his clean laundry) may enter without fear of infestation.  A side effect of the cleaning frenzy is that I can now open both of his closet doors.

JT returns today and will likely be annoyed that I cleaned his room.  I will respond with two words: “rotten food.”  He’ll forgive or he won’t but I‘m over it already.  No doubt his crap will shortly be all over the house.  But until then, the print-free windows and glass, tidy bathrooms, and organized closets are lovely to behold.