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As Welcome as the Flowers in May

Sorry for the extended absence – the last week has been intense at work – but it appears to be calming a bit – so I have energy to write at end of day.

Several interesting topics came up over the last few days.  I will try to write about Slow Food and seeing Michael Pollan speak about his new book later this week.  There is also the workshop I attended on “Conscious Aging”; a very interesting exercise in reflecting on the meaning of “Elder” in our society.  Today I want to continue my musings on Spring.

Seasons here are abrupt.  There is no subtle hint, no nuance as we bolt from one season to another.  Last week it snowed and not much plant life was foolish enough to have shown any green.  Six days ago the sun came out (it is 83 today) and suddenly everything is budding, and blooming.  I was unable to resist the urge to put away the temporary “green house” I built last autumn and pull out all the pots we put into it for shelter.

The greenhouse was an experiment, and a limited one at that.  I had no illusions about trying to raise orchids in the snow.  All I wanted to do was to keep the pots from freezing and, thus, keep the roots alive to sprout again this year. 

So, what was the verdict?  No surprise, I had mixed results.  Unlike the year before, all the bulbs survived.  Many of the perennials did too, although they are a bit worse for wear.  None of the annuals or tender herbaceous perennials made it.

So, we spent yesterday assessing the losses, cleaning up the messes, and preparing for another short, intense season here on the high plains.

The highlight of the day was a trip to the local nursery.  It is more like a temporary plant fair than a real nursery.  Most of the year it is a vacant lot; a mud hole in the wet seasons.  Then, for a few weeks in spring, as though it were one of the plants it offers, it bursts to life.  Temporary shelters go up and are filled with thousands of small pots and an amazing array of textures and colors.

Visiting it is a sensual overload; one that is like a balm for people penned up all winter with nothing to see but white and black and gray, gray skies.  Row upon row of geraniums, impatiens, violas, pansies, lupines, delphiniums, foxglove, dahlias, the list gores on and on, vegetables too are spread out before our eyes; all in rich, bright green, most adorned with vibrant blossoms;.

We came away with our car trunk-loaded with color and spent the afternoon filling the empty pots and erasing the memory of the death we had found there only a few hours before.

So, in gratitude, here are more thoughts on our green brothers and the gifts they give us so willingly.

“The earth laughs in flowers.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
Georgia O’Keeffe

“I must have flowers, always, and always.”
Claude Monet

“In joy or sadness flowers are our constant friends.”
Kakuzō Okakura

Peonies, first spring

It’s such a small thing
the tight-curled fist of
bronzy, reddish green

For years we’ve struggled
with that unsatisfactory corner;
pondering, planning, planting

Years of work amending soil,
bringing water, letting in the light
have greened the neighbor beds

but this one bears no flowers
no rush of April promise
until now.


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