27 March 2013

Spring musings

As I walked along this morning I winced at all the wounded, disfigured plantings... sad reminders of a maddening succession of icy snowfalls. None of these storms amounted to much in inches, but each was wet enough to cow even the strongest trees.

Some shrubs were split at their base and still lie prone on the ground, barely attached to their mother root, while larger trees were missing limbs that were torn away under the sheer weight of heavy sleet, leaving the shredded under-softness vulnerable. Many smaller plantings—roses, budleia, broom—were twisted in various distorted configurations, like charade-playing mimes trying to make each passerby guess the cause of their invisible burden.

My own roses are pressed to the ground in some places, despite my valiant efforts to stay one step ahead of the rain-soaked snowdrifts that blanketed them every few days.  I shall have to spend a good hour or so this weekend, reaching in with gauntlet covered arms and pulling their thorny limbs back into shape.  

Surely if gardening teaches anything, it is the lesson of resilience. And a willingness to be surprised.

The trenchant sound of a single bird in early spring can be startling for being so infrequent. In a few months time the air will be filled with myriad calls and whistles as robins, jays, grackles, mourning doves and house sparrows chatter and coo to one another.  But at this time of year there is a solitary quality to birdsong, like a lone herald marching ahead of the legions that will follow.

I heard a woodpecker yesterday, his rhythmic tapping bouncing sonar-like amongst the tree branches overhead. It took me awhile to spot him, but I did finally see his red cap bobbing against the trunk of a sprawling maple.

And then today I heard two gulls, squawking to one another impatiently. In summer, their supple elongated crying carries on the warm breeze as they swirl above my head in broad unhurried circles. But their calls in early Spring are truncated and brittle, like shards of ice, and their flight is more purposeful, getting them from one building top to another where they shudder side by side, scanning the ground for edible litter.

The witch hazel is in bloom, the crocus are up, and the small seed-pearl buds on the Andromeda are about to open.  And so despite the cold, the ravaged plantlife, and the solitary birdlings, all seems right with the world in a hopeful and "fingers cross't" sort of way.

Carry on.


  1. That is such a pretty plant. What is it called? I don't think I'm familiar with it..

  2. Thank you for coming by, Nadia! That is Andromeda. It has a subtle but sweet scent once it opens. I use mine year round in flower arrangements as it looks pretty even in fall and winter.

  3. Oh I loved this. So beautifully written. I can see and hear it all. We really do have a cake walk in winter here. But it's so much greener and lush later on for you. I know your garden will recover beautifully. And I know you will enjoy the process!

  4. I have been enjoying Spring vicariously through your blog, Jacqueline! Your images give me hope of things to come. Wishing you a beautiful Easter!