Thursday, March 26, 2015

Your Weekly Spring Bulbs: Week 2

When January rolls around, it’s Winter’s first full month and I expect cold and snow.  After all, it’s Winter and that’s how it goes.  The January days are slowly getting longer and the cold seems bearable just one month in.  February pops its head and seems rather cute with just 28 days to greet with mittens that still seem fun to wear.

February usually takes its toll but by then Spring seems close.  Our February was colder than average by 15 degrees and that took its toll this year.  I had great hopes for March, but that month has been very uncooperative.  Our March turned out to be the snowiest month this Winter.  It came in like a lion and has only a few more days to go out like a lamb.  

Happily, there are signs of continuing progress in my flowerbeds.

I wouldn't say there's been a lot of progress since last week, but at least the bulbs that have emerged are holding the line.  I'll take it!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Back to It

For the last two weeks, school has been on Spring Break.  For the first week, JT went to Florida with the baseball team.  I went to school on the days he was gone and worked from home  for the second week, with ample time off to get lots of Spring chores completed.  I cleaned the windows, dusted the baseboards, took after my bathroom grout with a bleach pen, cleaned closets and generally got myself ready for the juggernaut that is the last segment of the school year.

Part of getting myself ready involved some relaxation.  I slept in; read some good books; went for walks outside; cooked some new recipes; and relished the extra daylight.

I also swapped out my closet and brought Spring clothes to the forefront.  Gone are the tights, wool skirts and heavy sweaters.  In their place, I’ve got cotton sweaters, t-shirts, lightweight skirts, and warm-weather shoes.  Winter coats, hats, mittens, and scarves were washed and put away.  Spring jackets and scarves have replaced them on the coat rack.

Naturally, today is forecast to be a sunny 41 degrees.  4-1.  I am wearing a linen skirt, a pink cardigan sweater, loafers, and a scarf.  It is as if I am involved in some sort of fake-it-’til-you-make-it Spring experiment.  My pride (and the office area-heater) will have to keep me warm.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Snow

I made some pictures of my backyard the morning after the March 20 snowstorm.  The snow was heavy and wet and it outlined every branch and surface in the yard in a precise and beautiful, if infuriating, way.

It was just a little more lovely because it’s the end of March and Spring has officially begun.  As I looked out in the yard yesterday morning, I was convinced that this heavy snow and the cold that it ushered it in can’t possibly last.

In fact, by the end of the day, the yard looked altogether different.

We are still in a patch of unseasonable cold, with temperatures more than 10 degrees below normal.  It will be a few more weeks before the trees begin to show their Spring colors.  But Spring is more glorious when it has been well-earned and I can be a patient woman.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Jesus Christ

I have a hard time believing that the folks who pop into CVS to buy workout and travel magazines are also looking for their Jesus fix, but the Mormon missionaries who were entering the pharmacy as I was leaving it may know better than me.  

Friday, March 20, 2015

First Day of Spring

First day of Spring or not, we’re having one last snowstorm today.  It’s a pretty, steady, wet snow that covers the grass but hasn’t begun to stick to the roads.  We’re safely tucked in for the last day of Spring Break with a load of basketball to keep us warm so we can afford to be rather sanguine about more snow.

A review of my blog and my Twitter comments for the last three months indicates that the primary topic of my thoughts is the weather.   It’s as if I am an elderly lady with nothing else to talk about.  Nothing could be further from the truth, though I find that as I age, the natural world has more and more importance in my life and claims on my thoughts.

Some of my strongest, earliest memories center around the outdoors.  I can vividly smell and feel the carrots my dad let me pick from his backyard garden when we lived in Martinez, California and I was 4 years old.  I can smell the majesty of the pine forests of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a place we visited so often in my childhood that I’ve surely lost track of the number of times we drove those roads.  I can still feel the cold of Billie Creek on my feet and the warmth of the sun on the high rock overlooking the creek where my sister and I sat and tried to dry the sneakers we had been ordered to keep out of the water.

Today, more than 25 years since I left California, a foggy day reminds me of my hometown in the winter and instead of feeling desolate, the fog feels like home.  Where ever I have lived, my mood has been shaped by the climate and time spent outdoors in it.  From hazy sunsets over the green hills in Tennessee to amazing sunrises over the expanse of prairie in Nebraska, these scenes form my strongest memories of places.  Long ago I realized that my favorite season is always the one we are just about the enter.  So it is that Spring’s promise of sunny warmth, blooms and abundant green feels like a happy prospect today, even if Mother Nature isn’t quite ready to leave Winter's charms behind.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Your Weekly Spring Bulbs: Week 1

Since the new year began, I’ve posted pictures of my changing amaryllis bulb every Thursday.  Last Thursday, at week ten, the blooms were complete.   It’s time for a new bloom-related weekly posting and the tulip and daffodil bulbs in the front yard flowerbeds are just the ticket.  Things are looking promising.

Much as the amaryllis sustains my spirits in Winter’s dark cold, the bulbs in the front yard provide me happiness in the Spring.  Checking them each week is a reminder to stop and admire the flowers; to live in the moment even when the days and weeks are busy.  Spring is a season of hope and that makes the here and now even more pleasing.

I have always said that one of the reasons I garden is to remember the rewards of patience.  Spring blooms from bulbs planted in the Fall is an object lesson in just that.  That it is a beautiful one is simply icing on the cake.

Even tomorrow’s forecast of snow on the first day of Spring can’t dampen my enthusiasm.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Cleaning

When I was a teenager, I discovered that when my sister and I were away from home, my mother would clean in our absence.  For years, I thought this was some sort of strange psychological condition driven by the fact that my mother loves a clean house.  Then I had a child and the same impulse seized me.  I clean while JT is away and then sit back to reap the rewards of my tidy home, which stays tidy because of the child’s absence.

When Spring Break first began, I ordered JT to clean his room before he left for Florida or I would do it for him and bill him for my time.  He didn't tidy up before he left (rather the reverse, actually) so I undertook the threatened task.  I found a box of unopened granola bars, a plastic bag with two aged tangerines and a rotten banana skin, assorted sports jugs with fetid water inside them, and a vast collection of previously read Sports Illustrated and ESPN magazines.  They have been removed and the floors cleaned.  Now visitors to his room (i.e., me, dropping off his clean laundry) may enter without fear of infestation.  A side effect of the cleaning frenzy is that I can now open both of his closet doors.

JT returns today and will likely be annoyed that I cleaned his room.  I will respond with two words: “rotten food.”  He’ll forgive or he won’t but I‘m over it already.  No doubt his crap will shortly be all over the house.  But until then, the print-free windows and glass, tidy bathrooms, and organized closets are lovely to behold.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

At Last!

We had snow cover for most of late January, all of February, and the start of March.  Our final second-to-last snow storm of the season was on March 5 and it brought nearly 10 inches of snow.  By then the piles of snow had grown rather large and it seemed as if there was no end to Winter in sight.

One week later, things were looking much more promising.

As February’s snow drifted into March, I began to speculate that when the snow finally melted, we’d have the start of Spring’s bulbs peeking out of the ground.  Turns out I was right.

I spotted these green shoots last Thursday when the snow in the eastern-facing flower bed in front of my house finally began to melt in earnest.  Spring is often a season of fits and starts and I expect we still have some wet, cold days to muddle through.  But the start of flowers has been sighted in my yard and that promise brings plenty of warmth to my days.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Real Life Conversations with JT: Poor Decision-Making edition

The backstory: The arrival of baseball season invariably finds baseball items left all over the house.  Among those items are protective cups that I keep finding in places I would prefer they would not be, as was the case on Monday.

Me:  Dare I ask if the cup here on my kitchen counter has been used?

JT:  I didn’t know where to put it.

Me:  Really?  Really?

I took the offending item upstairs and placed it in the closet that T and I renovated specifically for the storage of sporting goods.  If it is any consolation to those of you who eat meals made in my home, it was a fresh-out-of-the package item.  Of course, that may not be the case the next time I find it on the counter.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Post 2500!

When this blog first began in 2006, I thought of it as a place for me to store some of my musings, especially those of a political nature.  That first post was about politics and it’s notable that today I feel the same way about immigration as I did in 2006.  As my life changed in an unexpected way that year, the blog served additional purposes.  It became a sounding board for the experiences and feelings I had as my world was re-organized.   I have always been a journal writer but the blog was more than a series of journal entries.  After all, the Internet is a public forum and though I have engaged in my share of over-sharing, there actually is a boundary to the things I write here.  Over the years, a readership of sorts developed.  I say of sorts, because most of my first readers were friends and family.  Thanks to the glories of Google data mining, I know that my audience has  expanded.  Postings here are sometimes written with an eye toward that larger unknown readership, though at its heart Sassafras Mama is my blog and I write it to please myself.

Over the years, I’ve thought of this blog as a place to file away my view of the world and my place in it.  It’s a place to store my pictures and ideas.  It’s provided incentives to take on projects large and small and is a record of those projects.  I write about things both serious and everyday.  It’s a record of my son growing up and the life we built together when his other mother left.  It’s the story of the plants and gardens in my care.  It’s the story of my life changing in other ways, as well.  From falling in love with T to professional changes and my experience of aging and parenting, the blog is a repository of so much of my life in the past 9 years.

I mention all of this because today I’ve reached a milestone worth marking.  This is posting number 2500.  I like the fact that my writings and thoughts are stored at this place; a library of my thoughts.  I still write for myself with a hope that others might enjoy what I have to say.  I’ve never monetized because I like the collection of my thoughts and ideas to be pleasing to the viewer’s eye and I don’t want my musings to be re-shaped by the demands of the material world.

There will be a number 2501 posting soon enough, so I’m not announcing any huge changes for Sassafras Mama.  But I am pausing to think about the many blog postings that have filled my last 9 years and to say thank you to readers who stop in and spend time with me.  Your presence and participation here has made my life richer and I am grateful for that happiness.