One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Archive for the ‘moon’ Category

Sadness and Blessings

Already it is the middle of March.   Saint Patrick’s Day.    And what astounding reminders we have had this past week about not taking for granted the many blessings in our lives, about how it turns out we are often luckier than we even realize.

At this point, I can’t imagine there’s anyone who hasn’t seen at least a little coverage of the dreadful happenings in Japan.   A historically monstrous earthquake, followed quickly by a devastating tsunami would certainly be misery enough for anyone.   And now there’s the additional harrowing concern about failing nuclear reactors upstaging the rest.  Our planet weeps.

I know some people who tell me they simply can’t look at it or read about it anymore.    Some already bore a heavy cloak of sadness for one reason or another, and seeing footage of the disaster is too much for them.   Many others have reached their saturation point, they’ve just seen too much; I understand that, too.

I sort of overdosed on the news cycle ten years ago after 9/11, so I do try to keep myself exposed in measured doses and turn off the TV or radio after a while.  Usually I find reading the news is informative but maybe less of an assault on the senses.   I think it’s important to stay in touch with what’s going on, what’s happened, but to keep in mind that too much can have its own impact on a person, and not just leave the telly on to loop bad news over and over again.  That just wears on the soul.

But I also find some folks seem so eager to glance away and not think about it, who don’t seem to appreciate that being able to look away is a luxury.   That the people who were not crushed by collapsing buildings or swept away by waves, those people can’t look away.   They had days just like ours, with work and families and shopping and homes and housekeeping and so on just before their world turned upside down and they have now found themselves, in some cases, with none of that…and not even much in the way of food and water.

How lucky are we who have our meals and our homes and our families.

Ugh.  So serious.   And fittingly so:  terrible things have occurred.

One of the amateur clips I saw online of the earthquake was from a guy who was walking through his house filming as it happened, sort of dashing about, his shaky (understandably!) camera showing everything in the rooms he passed through, and generally revealing rows and rows of planted flower pots just about everywhere the camera swung:  lined up by windows, or along one side of a hallway, or on one side going down the steps.  I couldn’t help but laugh; here was someone who makes my indoor gardening seem like an occasional hobby.  In hindsight, I think he wasn’t dashing through the house panicking about the earthquake, but was actually just trying to keep up with the watering.

And watching some of the video footage of the tsunami, well, that’ll give anyone who lives on Cape Cod the creeps if they think about it for very long.   No wonder we look away – it doesn’t take long to see some of ourselves in the scenario.  And that’s too scary to think about.

It’s still winter there in north eastern Japan and Mother Nature laid a little snow atop their sorrow this week, too.  Even overlooking for the moment the uncertain business about the nuclear reactors, there’s a bitter harvest for them this Spring.

May a thousand flowers bloom where their tears water the earth.

Spring is coming on strong here in the Nest this week.  This African violet has presented buds and begun blooming just in the last week and this morning, my old amaryllis began to bloom in the early morning sun.  In fact, my “Thanksgiving” cactus – with the yellow flowers – is preparing to bloom again, as is my eager Christmas cactus at the office.

Now that we’ve sprung ahead with our clocks for Daylight Savings Time, it’s quite a treat to have more sunlight after work.    After the long dark winter, I almost feel like a thief for sneaking out of the office when its still so very light!

Woo hoo, I’ll happily take it and run…or at least walk, as we’ve done to the beach several evenings this week.   And the signs of Spring are mounting outdoors, as well, with the moss getting all freshly green, robins digging worms,  the red-wing blackbirds congregating like strange chattering and singing leaves in a bare treetop as the sun goes down.

“Carpe diem!

Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day;

live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have.

It is later than you think.”

Horace, 65 BC – 8 BC


Moon Over February

I think there’s something a little magic about this image.

My intension was to show off the new solar powered string of lights our Alberta spruce is wearing these days.   And it seemed like it’d be cool to catch the rising, nearly full moon in the background, but I didn’t anticipate how much like the sun the moon would appear from the long exposure.    Pretty intense reminder that the  light of the moon is only sunlight reflected, eh?

I also like how light the sky was still that evening, since this pic was taken around 5:20 p.m.    Perhaps the best part of February (besides some heart-shaped confection or other…) is the fun of watching the sun set later and later, as our days stretch slowly toward midsummer’s golden evenings.   Which is helpful, since by the middle of February, winter can seem a dreary business, even if one has been wishing and hoping for snowstorms that never quite materialize.

I’m pretty amused, actually, that I’ve gone from being all rah rah about snowstorms to being just about ready for Spring’s warm breezes.  In fact, we’ve had a few momentary tastes of those already.  But then we’ve also had a dusting of snow, too.  Our friend the ocean gives us a little bit of everything, it seems.

But this year, not a lot of snow.   For that, it seemed I’d have to go elsewhere.   Back in December, I’d fled our family Christmas celebrations in Connecticut just a little ahead of schedule in order to get home before the arrival of a big snowstorm.   You may recall that was just the first in a series of such storms that came sweeping across the plains or up the coast with more snow for the northeast this winter.

It seemed every couple of days (although perhaps ’twas once a week) since then, I heard or read the reports of more snow falling there, more piling up.   Another couple of inches one day, another foot another.   It was just crazy the way its kept coming, and ironic that it should mount into snowfall totals to rival the most intense of the Adirondack winters Mom and Dad knew before moving to Connecticut.   Fortunately, they brought with them the experience of those winters, and also their snow rake, so as to remove some of those snow totals from the roof.

By the time I got there, there wasn’t much driveway left.   I was fortunate that there wasn’t any new snow to deal with for the weekend of my visit.   I was, however, met with a solid temperature of nine degrees, making it feel as though I’d made the trip all the way to the Adirondacks, instead of simply northwest Connecticut.

Here’s Mom and Dad’s kitty, Dewey, who’s always very happy to see me.   He and Badum send messages back and forth to one another by rubbing on my sneakers and luggage.   Here he’s a little disdainful that my desire to take his photo is greater than my desire to put more treats in his bowl.

It was cool to see all the snow, or what remained of it.   The white stuff was transforming from snow to snirt by then.   It compressed down a bit by the time I got there, but you could also see actual mountains of snow in public parking lots and such, where snow plow crews just kept piling it higher and higher.    Not a story unique to the region this winter, but still fun to check it out first hand.

Of course, seeing the snow was hardly the point of the weekend’s travel, only a bit of set dressing.   As a Christmas gift, Mom and Dad bought me, Sue and Joe (and themselves) tickets to a local production of RENT, which was going on that particular weekend at the Warner Theatre, the fantastically restored art deco theatre in their city.

It worked out nicely that it was Valentine’s weekend, since it’s always sort of a sweet occasion to get the five of us together, something – to our great pleasure – we’ve been able to do more often in the last few years.   So we had a great family dinner before the show and then coffee and dessert afterwards, and all of that seasoned with plenty of laughs and good times.

As always with these weekends, it went too quickly, and almost before I realized it, I was back on the Cape, where the bare ground and warmer temperatures made all that snow seem like some kind of fever dream.

As the days of February stretched longer, there were a few other signs of spring-ish-ness.    A couple of days when temps rose into the 30s and 40s.    If one looks closely, you can see tiny tips of crocuses and daffodils beginning to push their way up out of the ground.   In fact, I can tell you now that my next post will feature some snowdrops and a few other surprise blooms.

Here’s a particularly lovely sunrise we enjoyed out our living room window early one morning, and just one more shot of that sunny moon rising over the marsh.

A Fleeting Season’s Greetings

Tick tock – Whrrrrrrr. Tempus Fugit.

And then it was Winter.

The days have shortened down to  the darkest days of December and are already beginning to lengthen and I’m only just back here to the blog after so long away.

Even Christmas has come and gone already, in fact, only a couple minutes yet remain in this year known as 2010.

I know that,  in many ways, and for lots of people, 2010 has not been the best year and when I think back on some of the details – the earthquakes, the oil spills, the suicides, the financial hardships – well, for all those things, it’s not a year to which I’ll be sorry to bid adieu.

But I’m hard pressed to say anything at all bad about the year, despite those serious unpleasantries.    For me, it’s been a pretty terrific year and I have no end of things for which I’m so grateful.    Good times with my family and with my friends who are also my family.  Sunny days and flower-filled gardens.  That warm purring weight on my back each morning when I wake up.  So many blessings.   It was this year in which I felt less like a caterpillar and a little more like a butterfly, so I was pleased to find a couple for our holiday wreath.

Even though December’s days were short  and cold and often dim, you’d be wrong to assume there weren’t plenty of flowers happening at the Nest.  And in fact, it wasn’t until mid-month that our bird bath’s froze solid for the first time this fall, so it hasn’t even been all that cold until just before Solstice.

This pink African violet is almost always in bloom and December’s arrival brought a festival of Christmas cactus bloomings.    The first one down below is a special treat, too, as it appeared to be in its death throes when we first met last February.   What a treat that it’s responded so well to my care that it’s blooming in time for its namesake holiday.

This orangey cactus is blooming on an old plant we rescued from disposal at the dump last spring.   It’s previous owner was prevented from heaving it into the trash bin by Mr. Downstairs along with several others.  This one came upstairs to live with us.  Transplanting this plant into a larger pot that will give it room to spreads its roots a little is on my Winter Weekend To Do list.     Maybe by next December it’ll offer twice as many blooms.

The pink patio hibiscus is indoors for the winter and has dropped nearly all its leaves, as it slips into winter semi-consciousness.    But it saved one last fabulous double blossom for early December.     In a few other pots here and there around the apartment, the summer’s geraniums – come indoors with their asparagus fern pot-mates – have been blooming lightly all month.

It’s no secret that I love the whole holiday season but got to enjoy it on my terms this year, not in terms of decorating banquet halls and hosting holiday parties as a job, but for the joy of it.    One of the few disappointments about the Nest is that I can’t quite imagine where inside I would set up a full-sized Christmas tree.   I’m sure I could come up with a solution, were I to fully turn my attention to the matter…but since I’m away for the Red Letter Day, it doesn’t make much sense to go through all of that rigamarole, not when I have my little Charlie Brown and the fibric optic trees.

And so I decorate the Christmas pothos, as you can see above, and this year, I added a string of purple lights to the holiday mix, which has been fun.

But there’s just something about a fresh evergreen dressed in many colors that tickles me silly during the long winter nights and so it wasn’t too hard to justify shopping around at local nurseries for a tree for our deck garden.

An Alberta spruce ended up being the lucky winner, this one named Drosselmyer.  In time, he will find a home out in the yard, but for now he’s been a bright addition to the winter deck garden and might even be a container dweller for a year or two.

The weather may’ve been a little unseasonally warm for December, but it’s always an unpredictable month here on the Cape, with the ocean to keep us warm as often as not.   Although making merry in December is no longer my job, it remains very much my business and there were no end of fun activities to remind us of the season when the weather did not.

Early in December I attended a swanky Christmas Cookie Swap with a pal of mine that was lots of fun.   Our hosts had dressed their home in all its fine gay apparel – there were  TWO trees and one of those revolved – and a wonderful soundtrack of holiday tunes seasoned an evening of old friends and new.

It was a large party, too, so there were about thirty or more different varieties of cookie, which not only gave me some great ideas for my own holiday baking plans later on in the month, but also – great singing fishes – outfitted me with a wonderful platter of nearly-infinitely varied cookies to bring to the Caroling Party at Trout Towers the following week.

On the whole, it was a raucous and merry month of anticipation and activity, flavored with songs and laughter and love and good cheer, just as it should be.

And of course, despite all that cheery shinyness, the Shining Merry Brightness at month’s end always also feels a little like a juggernaut barreling down the tracks toward me, a thing for which I can never be properly prepared.    So I bake and I sing and think about those I love and how I’d like to remember them and eventually it almost all gets done.

Naturally, just about the time I got serious about getting things done is when our weather finally turned cold and seasonal, perfect for dashing about in a one horse open sleigh, but not always so convenient for dashing about in parking lots with a bunch of others feeling the Holiday Panic.

And as it turned out, I had it almost all finished and so didn’t especially mind when a predicted two inches of slushy snow turned into a surprise foot of the white stuff, smothering our world in glittering wonder just in time for Solstice (Sadly, the storm did prevent us locally from enjoying the solar eclipse that welcomed the change of the seasons this year.).

It was a special December in a new way, too, since I was invited to my first-ever Solstice celebration, a wonderful dinner with good friends, just as the season decrees.  As the storm clouds slipped away overhead, we celebrated the year that had passed and welcomed the year before us and we called the Light back to our days.    Then we each wrote our  hopes and wishes for the year ahead on a piece of paper, all of which were tied to our Yule Log, which we added to the merry blaze in the fireplace.

Christmas itself found me in the loving arms of my family in Connecticut, where there was a little less snow on the ground, but still a covering of white for the ease of sleigh runners pulled by magic reindeer.    Our celebrations there were more of the same, great company, good food, songs and laughter.   I can’t say I’ll ever get tired of such good times.

And now – tick tock, whrrrrrr – there’s really only minutes until we welcome the New Year.   Time to go pop my bottle of Asti.   2011.    Sounds space aged, doesn’t it, but still little sign of my rocket jet pack.    I can find much to praise about the year to which we say farewell.    The year brought further adjustments and changes to my life.   I had the courage to try new things as I rediscover myself and explore who I want to be, and also the wisdom to realize when some of those things weren’t quite what I was looking for.   I’ve made many new friends and reunited with plenty of “old” ones.

I look forward to the year before us,  to the explorations and celebrations and ruminations…and germinations that will come along with our fresh calendars.  I don’t have any recent pictures of the Catsby (since receiving a wealth of catnip themed presents for Christmas, he’s been spending a bit of time wearing berets and reading Kerouac and Ginsberg in dimly lit corners of the apartment), but he joins me in wishing each of you many blessings for the year laid out before us.

Happy New Year!