By the time I start to write you on Sunday, I’ve forgotten most of the week’s adventures. It may be that I didn’t have any – but I doubt it.
One fun adventure was I looked everywhere and couldn’t find my seeds that I bought last fall. I searched high and low, in all the smart places and even the dumb ones (the basement – gack!) – but I had hidden them too well. And here I was, ready to start my first indoor seedlings, with nothing to plant.
So I did have to go buy more of those dahlia seeds, and the extra-pretty cosmos called Apricotta (sounds like a delicious dessert, doesn’t it?). And while I was at the big garden store, I decided I better buy more, different seeds – because you know, they might run out of them later in the actual spring.
Of course I don’t have room to start them all – probably not even half of them. But knowing that doesn’t matter. You don’t buy seeds from a logical frame of mind, but in a hopeful trance not to be interrupted by petty concerns such as how many shelves and lights you might have in your kitchen.
Of course, I found the lost seed packets the next day. Now I have my Teddy Bear sunflowers and so many more cactus flowered dahlias and Apricotta cosmos. Not to mention calendula, poppy, nigella, snapdragon, campanula, nasturtium, and aster, nestled in their colorful envelopes, just waiting for their days in the sun.
I made up my mind to take a breather from the flowers, and to be sure I did, I went to an estate sale on Saturday morning instead of getting my flowers. I did overpay for this charmingly leaky teapot – but that’s a lesson we can’t learn too often.
This morning I woke up at the crack of 6:30 (really 5:30 darn that dumb time change) to a wet, clumpy snow and grey skies – and something felt off kilter. Of course – no flowers. It just isn’t Sunday any more without flowers.
I wanted to turn over and go back to sleep, then get up and read and make coffee. Truly, I really did want to do those things. But I realized right away I couldn’t. The house would just feel naked without flowers, and what else am I going to do on Sunday? (Don’t answer that.)
So on with the snow boots (not for the last time, I’m sure), and downstairs with the snow broom (yes, it’s exactly what you think) to clean the car and get on the road in time to be there when the market opens.
And it’s a good thing I went, too – because today was the First of Ranunculus. And I got the very prettiest ones.
March is just a few days old, but she has already rained and snowed and shone her most favorable sun upon us, warmly promising more and more some future day.
Can it really be that winter is retreating? Yes. Whatever happens now is spring-snow, spring-rain, spring-shine past the winter bygones. And not a moment too soon.
Spring is coming and I’m getting ready. I’m setting up a seedling nursery in the kitchen. Nothing too ambitious, just a couple of shelves and two lights. Maybe I can coax some long tall snap dragons and dahlia surprises into sprouting. This might be the last hellebores this season, though. My flower lady told me she can’t order any more. Trader Joe runs a a no-nonsense ship, apparently. You get what you get and you don’t get upset.
I’m having trouble remembering what to do with one normal day after another. Like things used to be, only we didn’t know it.
I know there are still zombies in the woods (looking at every Republican voter who thinks the election was stolen). And somehow we are debating whether Vladimir Putin is an adversary. A jar of mayonnaise costs more than the excellent house brand champagne Trader Joe sold at New Years.
Still, we are as close as we may ever get to back in the day.
Except for how different we all are, of course. Witnesses to a confluence of historic and personal tragedies, seen in their horrifying, particular detail. The people who are gone forever, and the inner self who simply can’t be revived.
No wonder normal feels like such a redemption.
It’s too soon for hellebores to rise up through the blanket of leaves and snow, but they are ready, nestled between the trees and red osier dogwood, for the Great Melting that is only a few weeks away.
Meanwhile, I do what I’m told. Green vases and wine-colored petals and – at last – sunshine. And that is plenty of magic. Maybe even enough.
I didn’t want to leave behind the things that slipped away. But there’s no denying when you find yourself in a different place. Quieter (door-slamming neighbors and screaming toddlers not withstanding). Less fraught. Back at home, at least in my self.
All the wrong things are still wrong. My ghosts rise up and dissolve again and again whenever the sky rains. I have no traction to pull myself toward what I used to imagine might help. That fuel has burned out.
But I recognize this feeling – in the moments in-between.
A Valentine for my sweethearts, just a little early. It’s always Valentine’s Day for them, really – but they required a flourish of roses in honor of hearts and holding hands and smooches. My familiars, my surrogates, my crystal clear desideratum, telegraphed to the ineffable without any need for translation. Here, let me show you what I want.
Tulips for our week, brought by Mr. Tulip, my sweet assistant.
I saw so many friends this week. Flower friends, photo friends, and friends from my first temp assignment when I went back to school. That’s a lot of social engagement for me – celebrating the good enough feeling of just getting together. A time capsule in lunch and supper, spanning how life has unfolded in the past 10 years.
I’ve worked hard to establish my uneventful life as a petty bureaucrat. I know I should want more – but that is the trade off for a bird in the hand. You have to walk away from the terribly seductive pair singing in the bush. I have enough to do to keep this little bird fed and chirping.
Tulips are eventful, though. And you do not have to choose only one. You can have quite an armful if you know Mr. Tulip.
We got our first big snow last night – which is the prettiest time for the snow to arrive. I’m sure you remember – the air shimmers and twinkles, or drifts and dances, depending on the kind of snow it is, how fast it is falling and how close your window is to the nearest streetlight. This was a shimmer snow, and it left behind 9 inches of feather-soft crystals to shovel and sweep. Oh well. Nothing’s perfect.
Tuesday seems like forever ago. I mean, it really does. But it’s not even 6 days. I saw my friend, and we behaved ourselves – especially me. I have to surround those hours with words, to protect them from the accumulation of ordinary time that has already diluted their pungency. So that I remember. Remember that whether we behave or not doesn’t change very much between us. The story still ends with “I love you.” But it ends.
Meanwhile, these tulips. The exact color of raspberry-orange sherbet. Doesn’t that sound delicious?
It’s day 10,000 of grey – so it was just inevitable that I had to buy glowing red tulips and sweet Meyer lemons to make my own sunshine – and a spot of tea. And my sweet little couple – because I still have hope.
Well, this blue was just a loveliness I couldn’t pass up – even though I am trying to cut back a little on flowers so I can get some other things I need.
I haven’t written as much about my ups and downs here lately. I’m not sure why. I certainly still have them. One night last week, I drove past a particularly steadfast and cozy house, with a single, electric candle shining each window. In an instant, I burst into tears. Its unattainable durability suddenly embodied all the ways I have never grown up, or managed to fill any capacity larger than barely covering rent and food and, it must be admitted, flowers. I have plenty of regret to keep me company, any time.
And I spend a lot of time in music that absorbs and transmutes dilemmas that can’t be resolved with only words. Wrapped in Johnny Hartmann’s incomparable voice – It Was Almost Like a Song. Drive Fast (The Stuntman) – the same prayer Bruce has been writing for 40 years. Keep me in your heart.
But the flowers themselves are medicine. The oceans of shadow and color in each miniature bell or feather-light petal, the air filled with their green scent and respiration. Spending some time, some where, with just what is beautiful. There is so much hope in that.