Monday, April 23, 2018

A Spring Ramble


Well, is it spring yet? That's the big question. Spring's been a skittish girl this year. She's peeked in--getting everyone all thrilled, and then slamming the door and leaving behind snow flurries--or, for the folks in that long lean strip of north country--a late season dump of yet more frigid whiteness.  There's another strange weather year coming in; you can feel it.  

I was inspired by Diane Scott Lewis's recent blog with a darling baby picture to go wandering into my own family album and pick out a few selections from springs past.  

This is spring in Cornwall--there's that Rhododendron tree behind as I leave the School of Saint Claire. I'd survived a winter in boarding school in a world which still held echoes of  2nd World War shortages. We ate cabbage and potatoes, brown bread, with a single pat of butter and lots of cups of tea, poured from a big tin pot into plain white teacups, the same clunky sort you'd get at an outdoor tea cart. I'm wearing a warm weather dress, green checked, and a straw boater. 

Here's another spring--some years later. I know it's spring because of the pussy willows in the vase. I picked them in a swampy area that lay at the back of our apartment house. We had to live off campus because we were married students with a child, back in those days at U. Mass Amherst. You can see that I put Miles in a place where he would be immobilized while I cooked dinner. Every Mom who has cooked supper with a toddler underfoot has the ingrained fear that when she least expects it, he's going to (somehow) manage to empty a boiling pot onto himself. The top of the fridge was an excellent place for little boy safe-keeping and I used it nightly. And he could watch the bubbling  and sizzling from up there, the air moist with American plain cookin', which he seemed to enjoy.

Next we're in Connecticut. The daffodils in the bowl came from the weedy wilderness which surrounded the house, in which lay the remains of an old garden. Plenty of bulbs still grew, saluting  spring on every side, there for the taking. And all that paper? This would have been the beginning of my writing habit, which began with romantic poetry:

 In April
 the hard 
gray rain falls;
I see it in your eyes,
ready to shake me
into Spring,
your ecstatic

Below are Narcissus and the less familiar Trout Lilies and Celandine, plants with stories. The Celandine (as in Wordsworth's poem, "The Small Celandine") came from my grandparents' parents' farm in upstate NY. My grandfather (an ex-farm boy gardener) brought this plant to Ohio. They probably reminded him of home, but also he might have wanted them because he was a professorial Wordsworth specialist. In the memory of my beloved GPA, I nursed my piece of the transplant along for years, but the clay fill of this Pennsylvania yard ends by killing everything, despite my efforts with humus, water, and bone meal. The Trout Lilies are a native plant that is helpful to early pollinators, but I didn't know that when I planted them. I just loved the little yellow bells and shades of green dappled leaves.  

And there was the spring where we had a visit from the Easter Bunny or Ostara Hare--whichever you prefer. Here are a few little striped crocus + an turquoise egg surprise. In another place, the foot of an old Silver Maple, Elizabeth helped me (as you can see) as I tried to get the shot I'd planned. In her fuzzy little orange mind was the question, "Whatcha doin' with them eggs, Mom?"

And here's how I imagine things to look around Great Slave Lake, NWT at this time of year. Still frozen! And the snow geese and trumpeter swans would sit on the ice or float on little patches of open water, a pause on their way to their barren breeding ground on Inuit land.  

A nice grandgirl gave me this cartoon. I think it's me, although this one is cooler and younger and far more anime  than the actual shaggy, raggedy me. And- my ears are like Doc Martin's!

Happy Spring! 
We're all longing to see her, and hope she doesn't change into blazing summer too soon.  

~~Juliet Waldron

All my historical novels

1 comment:

  1. I love Cornwall and well remember banks and banks of 'rhoddies' at the back of my aunt's house. Loved the photographs.