Hope is the thing

Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

~ Algernon Charles Swinburne

Angel and I stood out under the almost full moon last night. She was restless, so was I, and the moonlit woods beckoned to us, mysterious and full of the sounds of night creatures awake and moving. I stood and watched the sky while she investigated every rustle and sigh – it was nearly midnight before we returned to the house. We were up early this morning to catch the sun.

Spring is here and the world is growing greener. I’ve been walking the garden every day, starting with the morning sun and ending at dusk and still I wish for more. Angel, at age 15, is a little gimpy, a little slower – we make a fine creaky pair as we circle the garden beds and pause for a closer look at each new flower that appears. 

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size. ~ Gertrude S. Wister

I finally had to admit that if I wanted to keep my garden, I would have to hire help for the heavy lifting. I called my friend Bill, who built the stone walls in my garden.  

He and Ron have been weeding, pruning, moving shrubs, and mulching garden beds for me for the past few weeks. Finally, the garden that was slowly going to ruin has now re-emerged, its bones intact and eager to grow. 

The bones of the garden

I can take pleasure in the easy stuff of gardening, knowing that I have able and knowledgeable help for all of the tough jobs that I no longer can manage. I designed, dug, planted and maintained this entire garden by myself for twenty years and now wonder how I managed to do that. But being forced to slow down has its pleasures. I’ve long enjoyed the contrast of the white daisy-like flowers of Anemone blanda ‘White Splendour’ against the dusky purple foliage of Euphorbia dulcis‘Chameleon’.

For the first time, I noticed the pink and purple tones of the anemone’s flowers and stems when its petals close for the night, entangled in the purple arms of the euphorbia.

Nearby, creeping sedums (S. rupestre ‘Angelina and S. spurium purpureum) have mingled together in a jazzy gold and burgundy combination.

White forsythia (Abeliophyllum) has pink buds before it opens but I’ve never noticed them before.

White forsythia buds

Delicate as a ballerina’s pink slipper, the buds eventually give way to the sweet-scented white flowers that gives this early blooming shrub its name.

White forsythia flowers

I had the pleasure of watching daffodil ‘Verdant Meadows’ open as a yellow and white flower before it slowly paled over a few days in the spring sun, eventually becoming creamy white.

My sisters-in-law gave me a lungwort (Pulmonaria) from my mother-in-law’s garden after she passed – its first bloom of the season opened this week on her birthday, a lovely synchronicity. 

The weather is mild enough to sleep with the window open; what a joy it is to awaken to the pre-dawn bird chorus. The garden is awake and this gardener has hope that she will be able to tend to it with ease and joy, and revel in nature’s beauty. May you also have hope and beauty in your daily world as spring works it magic.

Cornus mas blossom

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.

~Emily Dickinson

Quiet, not Silence

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all ~ Emily Dickinson

moonThe silence this morning was deafening. The dark days are upon us in the northern hemisphere – each bright day shrinking, each dark night expanding, until the solstice shifts the tide in a few weeks.  A full moon and its subsequent reduced appearances have awakened me each morning long before daylight.  I admit to a modest glass of chardonnay sipped yesterday morning at 5:30 A.M. – the moon was so bright that I couldn’t sleep, it seemed more like night than morning, and so I paid homage to its lingering light. Balanced on the edge of night and morning on an unseasonably warm night, the moon and stars ruled the pre-dawn sky.

This morning, however, the moon had already set and I stood in the dark before dawn, with no dawn “chorus.” A moist and silent cloud of dampness filled the air – no birds, no insects, no creature noises filled the void, only a distant hum of traffic.  Who is up and about at 5:30 A.M.?  And so a damp cloak of emptiness became a shroud of sorts.  I can do without sunlight but can I live in a silent world?  Isn’t that the real nightmare of the imagined apocalypse? Not the visual destruction but the absence of sound?

Now, at noon, a dozen birds have added their voices to the world.  Bluejays, cardinals, sparrows, woodpeckers, and hawks all spin their songs around me as Angel and I venture into the woods.  It is a comfort, to know that stillness and silence may dwell within but the murmur of the natural world goes on, each voice in its perfect place in nature’s orchestra. I sigh and something inside, a tight kernel of fear and tension, relaxes and dissolves.  I take a deep breath and enjoy the quiet murmur of nature’s world around me, every sound, every voice, every song present and accounted for.  All is well, and if it is quiet, that is the way of things in nature in this season.

Why most birds don’t sing in winter

And birds singing in winter.