Posted tagged ‘Crocus’

“One of the most important days of my life, was when I learned to ride a bicycle.”

March 19, 2018

Winter has no idea it’s time to go. The days are cold and the nights even colder. The sun has a sharpness but no warmth. The breeze is slight but chilly. We are expecting snow Wednesday. The amount is still in question. Poor spring has no idea its arrival and welcome tomorrow will be so frosty. I suppose there is some comfort in saying it’s spring as we bundle up tomorrow.

This morning I noticed a purple crocus has joined the yellows. I also saw more green tops have broken through the soil. I think they might be irises. The day lilies have started poking their heads out of the ground. The garden is astir.

When I was a kid, I had spring jackets. They were unlined and zippered. Their colors were bright and welcoming to the eyes after winter coats. I was always in a hurry to start wearing one and used the calendar as my starting place, not the weather. My mother disagreed, and she always won. I was stuck wearing that heavy winter coat until my mother deemed the weather warm enough for a change in wardrobe.

Riding bikes on a spring day was as much a part of the changing season as the arrival of the crocus. I’d haul my bike out of the cellar, up the stairs, hop on, ride down the grassy hill and take off, no specific destination in mind. It was all about the ride. The sides of the streets were filled with sand, left over from the winter and snowy roads, so I’d bike on the sidewalk. On one street, the sidewalk always had frost heaves. It was the best ride, all bumpy and fun. We’d go to the school yard and skid on purpose in the sand. The bike tires would leave looping trails behind us. The swooshing sound from braking in the sand was the best part. We’d try and outdo each other with the longest skid.

The ride home was easy until my street. It was a huge hill, and that early in the spring I couldn’t pedal up the whole way being out of practice. I’d have to wheel my bike from about the halfway point. By the end of spring, though, I could pedal all the way up the hill, but I always got tired at that halfway point. I’d have to stand to use all my strength to pedal. I always expected an ovation of some sort when I made it all the way up the hill on my bike.

“Live as many lives as you can.”

March 12, 2016

Today is lovely with a bright sun though I wish it were warmer than the 50’s. I noticed my hyacinth is so tall I can almost see the bumps of the whole flower. The daffodils have buds not yet ready to open but getting closer. The croci are blooming in the different flower beds. They grab your attention with their color as everything around them is still brown or grey.

Yesterday I needed only two things: toilet paper and orange juice. At first I figured to stay home and finish my book, but I knew I had no choice but to go out. Gracie and I left around 3:15. I decided I might as well go to the dump too. It was crowded. At one store, I checked to see if they had their spinach and puff pastry lattice topped hand pie. They didn’t but the cook said he’d make me some. It would take 15 minutes. I should have said no. I decided to walk around to waste time until the pies were done. I filled my cart. I bought yogurt, shrimp, a piece of pizza, a cinnamon coffee roll for this morning, some gourmet dog biscuits, honey and oranges. I did remember the toilet paper. Sometimes I go and forget what I need. I got my pies hot from the oven. I was praising them so much three other people bought some, and the pies were gone.

I don’t remember at what age I started to notice things like the spring flowers popping out of the earth or buds appearing on the branches. The changing leaves were easy to notice as we shuffled through piles of them on our way to school. Spring meant bike riding and light jackets, not flowers, to us. It meant Saturdays riding all over town. A chill was still in the morning air, but it wasn’t cold any more.

In retirement I have noticed the world I often overlooked when I worked. I have the time to look and see things like my bulbs growing taller and the appearance of the first small shoots of flowers in the front garden. I watch the birds. I stand outside in the early morning listening to their songs. My life has a far different pattern than it used to have. It is now filled with bright color and wavy lines which change from day to day. Life continues to be good to me.

“When the English language gets in my way, I walk over it.”

March 7, 2016

This morning was hopeful. I saw my first crocus in the front garden. It is bright yellow and is the only color I can see. The sun was shining when I woke up. The birds were in and out of the feeders. The coffee was delicious. Now, a mere three hours later, it is cold and dreary. I don’t know where the sun went, but it disappeared quickly. The crocus is closed. The world is back to being grey and dreary.

I spend two hours with my neighbor. We chatted about foods, relatives, weather and the  verb doesn’t. She seems to prefer don’t as in he don’t. I told her I’d start charging her money for all the times she uses the wrong verb. My grandmother and my father used don’t all the time and they were born in this country. I might be fighting a losing battle.

Gracie and I are going out later. She is out of canned food, and I am out of bread, two essentials for our lives. Lately I have been into naan. Gracie has been into whatever I feed her.

When I was a kid, our boxer, Duke, ate two cans of food every day. Back then it was horse meat. It smelled gross. I hated when it was my turn to feed Duke. I’d turn my head away as I was spooning his dinner into his dog bowl. Duke loved his dinner.

My electric can opener is among the missing. I moved it from the counter and now I can’t find it. I am back to using the old silver can opener where you turn the wheel around the cover. It works great except on the larger cans. With some cans I use a churchkey mostly when something to be poured is in the can. I also keep a churchkey in my car. It is one of those things you need when you don’t have it.

Every time I travel I take my Swiss Army knife. It has every possible gadget I might need on my journey. It used to be with me but now it travels as cargo being a weapon and all. I’ve have it forty-seven years. The tweezers and the toothpick are missing, but other than those, the knife is in perfect condition. I have a really small one I keep on my keychain. It comes in handy.

On the Amazing Race last week one of the tasks was to put together a Swiss Army knife. It is done by hand piece by piece, blade by blade. Now I know why they are so expensive. When the teams were leaving for Switzerland, one team member wanted to know what language is spoken there. Swiss, of course, was the answer. The best question of the season so far was also last week. In what country is Switzerland?

“We are our choices.”

February 21, 2016

The house is colder than outside. After I got out of bed, I ran downstairs and turned up the heat. Making the coffee was first in my morning routine then I went outside for the papers and was surprised to find the air warm or warmish I suppose is a bit more accurate.

The trees are quiet. The breeze isn’t strong enough to sway the creaky branches of the scrub pines. On the way back to the house from getting the papers, I stopped at my front garden because I saw the most welcome surprises. Green tips are above the soil. I know one is a hyacinth, and I suspect the others are the crocus and the dafs. The bulbs know spring is coming.

Living in New England means to expect cold, bone-chilling cold sometimes, and snow, but it doesn’t make me long for Florida or any sunny climes. I can’t imagine being so excited by a green shoot if I lived where flowers always bloom.

When I was a kid, I thought dandelions were flowers which grew on the grass instead of in the garden. My mother always made a big deal of the bouquet of dandelions I gave her. She’d put them in a glass filled with water. I even remember the glass. It was one which held small shrimp in sauce. I have a couple my mother gave me. I use them for orange juice.

I can’t think of anyone I ever hated when I was growing up. Some kids deserved a punch in the nose, and I was happy to oblige, twice. I was never reluctant to step in and tell some bully to shut up or else, the same with name callers. I had a sense of fairness which was just there, a part of me. Where it came from I have no idea. My brother was a bully, but I didn’t know that until I was an adult. A former elementary school classmate of his told my sister not that long ago. We were all surprised. We never saw it, but I don’t find it difficult to believe.

We go through so much while we’re growing up and make all sorts of choices along the way which help decide who we’ll be. I’m still making those choices.

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

April 12, 2015

Today is glorious. The sun is bright, the sky a lovely dark blue and it’s warm, in the mid 50’s. The morning is loud with the songs of birds. I stopped out front with papers in hand just to smell the sweet spring scented air. The daffodil buds are bigger, closer to blooming. Purple croci have bloomed in the front. I swear my grass has shoots of green instead of just winter brown. I finally believe in spring.

The Globe had a column this morning in the travel pages about a woman who went to Togo to visit her Peace Corps son. She described where it was in West Africa, that it is a Francophone country and you spend French African francs (CFA). She was struck by the poverty, the trash and the lack of infrastructure. Many of the roads are unpaved red dirt which covers you and everything you’re carrying in red dust when your bush taxi takes you away from the coast. She went to the Grand Marché In Lome and described it just as I remember it. The building is concrete. The cloth market is on an upper floor. On the bottom floors are the food markets. The Grand Marché was always one of my stops during my frequent visits to Togo, an easy bus ride from Accra along the coast. You rode to the border at Aflao, got off the bus and walked across to Togo under an arch which says Bye-Bye Safe Journey. The other side of the arch says Welcome to Ghana.

In Lome I ate ice cream and pastries and rock lobsters from a grill on a hotel’s patio. I ordered bifteck and pomme fries using my halting high school French. I burned the bottoms of my feet running on the hot beach sand. Once I was swimming and a dead pig floated beside me. I took my life into my hands by renting a moped and driving on the crowded city roads. I went up-country on local busses.

I never thought of living in Africa as an adventure. It was home for 27 months, and always felt comfortable. I was never lost but easily found my way from one place to another. My French got better, and I could give or ask for directions, order more than steak and French fries and bargain in the market in French. Without realizing it, I became a traveler. That has held me in good stead all of my life.

“First a howling blizzard woke us, Then the rain came down to soak us, And now before the eye can focus — Crocus.”

March 31, 2015

Today is bright and lovely, a bit chilly but that’s okay. It feels like spring; it doesn’t smell like a spring morning yet, but I think we’re close. Two bright, beautiful yellow crocus (croci) have flowered in my front garden. My eyes, hungry for color after the winter, saw them as soon as I walked outside to get the papers. It seemed as if they sprang from the earth overnight, maybe as a gift from much maligned Mother Nature.

I keep watching the birds flying in and out of the feeders, and I keep checking to see if I will again be plagued by the red spawn. I thought I caught a glimpse of the beastie on a tree limb, but he didn’t go to the feeders. I wonder if they have red spawn tasers.

I have decided winter is over even though it will be 28˚ tonight. You will read no more complaining about this extended season from me. Every day I see or hear a new sign of spring. The mornings are now filled with the songs of birds. No longer does that single bird sing. The sun is so bright coming through the storm door that all three animals vie for a sunny spot. Maddie’s fur was hot this morning when she came for a pat. The plowed snow is still on the corners of the street but the piles are tinier every day. I no longer pay them any mind. When I look out my window here in the den, I see the deep blue sky and I see trees no longer seeming shadowy, no longer silhouettes in the darkness of a cloudy day.

The last few days have been busy ones for me. I think the winter sloth has moved on. All the chores I kept putting off are done. I don’t even have any laundry in the drier. Today I have PT and some errands. I’m excited about going outside in the sun. Today is a sweatshirt day. I think I’ve seen the last of a winter coat day.

“Of course life is bizarre, the more bizarre it gets, the more interesting it is. The only way to approach it is to make yourself some popcorn and enjoy the show.”

March 29, 2015

Yellow and purple crocus are almost blooming in the garden. I now believe in spring.

Snow is still on the deck, but I could get to the bird feeders for the time in months. I am so happy to feed the birds again and will welcome their return. I just hope the red spawn has forgotten about me as it hasn’t been around since the seeds disappeared. Maybe he found better offerings elsewhere. With the snow nearly gone, I have a few outside chores to do. I have a metal holder for string and lint and yarn which hangs from the tree. The birds grab the construction material to help with building their nests. That has to go up yet. The lights on the backyard trees go on and off at weird times because the electricity died for a few hours this winter and I could never get to the timer to reset the clock. That I’ll do today. These are fun chores, spring chores, snowless chores.

My father used to make us popcorn. He always used the big pot with the lid. First some oil and a kernel or two were put into the pot. When the kernels popped, my father knew the oil was hot enough for the rest of the popcorn. He’d put in the rest of the kernels then hold the cover on the pot and then keep moving the pot in a circle on the stove so the bottom kernels wouldn’t burn. We always stayed to watch. It took a while, but then we’re hear the popped corn hitting the cover. More and more popping sounds meant all the corn was popping. When it came down to only a few pops, it was time to take the pot off the stove. Melted butter was always added to the bowl of popcorn then my dad would scoop the buttered popcorn into four bowls, one for each of us, so we wouldn’t fight over the big bowl.

The sound of corn hitting the lid with a pop, pop over and over and the smell of popping corn are permanently etched in my memory drawers. Even now when I smell corn popping, the image of my dad at the stove immediately comes to mind, and I can see him clearly standing at that stove just a bit bent over swirling the pot.

“It was Sunday morning, and old people passed me like sad grey waves on their way to church.”

March 16, 2014

This morning I filled the four sunflower feeders, and the spawn came back, the red one which jumps from the rail to the feeder over and over again. I chased it away, but it will be back. It always is. I thought about ways to encourage the spawn to pack its little bags and move elsewhere. I came up with a slingshot flinging paperclips, a pea shooter, a wire covering the food slots, electrifying the rail from where it jumps and a wee guillotine though I did reject that last one but only after giving it some consideration. I’m thinking the wire might be the best choice only because my aim with the slingshot and pea shooter mightn’t be up to the task.

The day is a pretty one. I found some more croci in the garden. Three of them are open and basking in the sun. I also saw a snowdrop, a lovely and delicate flower, by the stairs. The hyacinths are getting taller, and I can see their buds. It may only be 34˚ but it feels like spring to me. Flowers carry hope about them.

The mornings are noisier now. The birds have started greeting the day. Their songs are most welcome sounds.

In the church I attended in my hometown, there was a tiny pew in the back. It was the last one in the church and held only two people. I used to wonder why it was there and eventually decided they ran out of space but wanted balance at the end of the rows instead of a weird bare spot. I loved that pew and thought of it as the pew of the impious. I always sat, stood or knelt when everyone else did, but I never paid attention. Sometimes I sneaked in a book and read the latest adventures of Trixie Beldon. I tried to look saintly and reverent with my head bowed, and because all the people were in front of me and couldn’t see what I was reading, I think I pulled it off. When the ushers came by with their baskets, the book was hidden. I dropped my dime in the basket, waited for the usher to move along and then went back to my book. Mass went quickly when I was otherwise preoccupied so it was often a surprise when the priest said, “The Mass is ended go with God.” I took him at his word and scooted out the door and down the stairs. I was probably close to halfway home before the church had even emptied. I never minded going to mass when I had a good book to keep me company.

“I think ‘lunch’ is one of the funniest words in the world.”

March 15, 2014

Today started out dark and rainy, but the sun and blue sky are making headway. The weatherman says warm, even into the 50’s for today, but the cold will be back tomorrow. The good news is we only have to suffer three days in the 30’s before the 50’s break through for a while. That sounds to me as if spring is getting a toehold. This morning I saw the yellow of a crocus poking up from my garden, and I stood there for a while taking in the color. It is so bright and beautiful against the drabness of the rest of the garden. Alexander Pope is right especially during this cusp between the spring and winter when it is neither, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”

I am at a loss for words today. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does I am easily distracted. I leave the computer and look out the front door, polish a table or clean the counter. All the while the keyboard sits undisturbed. I sift through my memory drawers hoping for inspiration but nothing captures my attention. It is just one of those days.

I was required to carry a green school bag in high school, the ones you sling and carry over your back. It always seemed heavy. The rubber inside used to split then peel off in pieces. That meant time for a new bag.

In high school, I bought my lunch then my friend and I volunteered to work dish patrol. That meant I didn’t have to pay for my lunch, but my mother still gave me lunch money. I’d use it to take the T to Harvard Square or for festivities at Brigham’s. That’s where we celebrated Mardi Gras. As for the school lunch, no matter what was served, the lunches always came with corn bread because the government gave free corn flour to the school. I still love corn bread. I think we got green beans more than any other vegetable. I don’t like green beans any more.

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”

March 29, 2013

The day is lovely, sunny and fairly warm. I stood outside a long while this morning checking out the lower forty: okay, a bit of an exaggeration there. It was the side yard where the day lilies grow. I noticed their shoots are all above the ground. In the front garden the most beautiful cluster of yellow flowers is blooming. It deserves a picture so I’ll go back out later. All of the crocus are up: purple, yellow, white and a few variegated. I’m thinking they are the best harbingers of spring.

My feeders are empty again, good thing I bought more seed yesterday when I did my errands. Gracie and I did four of them including the dump and Agway, her two favorite spots. I also stopped at Hot Diggity Dog and bought Gracie some pastries for Easter then went next store to Buckies Biscotti and treated myself to lunch and a cupcake. It was altogether a most satisfying day.

We always had Good Friday off from school though the nuns expected us, the older kids, to pick an hour to do vigil between noon and three. The vigil was in the downstairs church, never in the big church upstairs. I remember how dark and quiet the church was. All the statues were covered in purple cloth. The only sounds were the creaking of the pews as people came and went or just tried to make themselves more comfortable on the wooden pews. I remember wearing play clothes to do vigil, even pants. It wasn’t like a Sunday when you had to wear a dress. There was always a nun sitting in the back checking us in and out. We only had to stay an hour, but it seemed far longer just sitting there quietly and supposedly praying. I sneaked in a book a couple of times and got caught once. The nun just held out her hand, and I gave it to her. I must have look too suspiciously pious with my head bent in constant prayer. She gave me back the book when I left.

Some years, when I was teaching, Good Friday was just before April vacation week so I got to leave early, on Thursday night, for Europe. I usually went every April. One year my sister and I went to London. She had never been there, and I had been there several times so I let her pick what she wanted to do, and we did everything on her list and more. I remember waking up on Easter morning and finding the Easter Bunny had left fudge eggs and cards, both compliments of our parents who had sneaked them to each of us to give to the other. That Easter Sunday we went to Windsor Castle, and there were huge crowds wandering around and a band was playing. I remember it was really windy and cold. That’s my strongest memory of that Easter Sunday.