"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Springing Up Spring

It is late January and spring is evident.
Hip Hip Hooray!
The night temps can still dip into the 30's and the morning hours chilly until that faithful sun warms up the afternoons and the thermometer reads above 70.
The grass, designed for hot temps, is still dormant and brown,
but other signs are springing up all around.
Springing up Spring!
A bouncy sound.
Spring IS bouncy...busy...energetic.

I am strongly aware that the arrival of springtime is not nearly so magical
(and therapeutic) as it was during most of my years
when I lived in the North Country of New York.
Those years winter lasted from late October until April.
They were the times when, if there weren't signs of spring hidden
among the melting snow,
we would all just about lose our minds.
In a type of desperation, I would go out with a shovel and dig at the piles of snow that lingered in the shadows at the edge of the woods.
Left on its own, that icy snow refused to melt and disappear
until the sun rose high enough to reach those dark, protective areas.
But I simply couldn't bear the sight of snow into mid-May.
I tossed the old stuff haphazardly out into patches of brown ground and laughed like a crazy woman when it melted.
Just doing my part to loosen up winter's grip on the land.

So, in retrospect, spring's arrival in Central Texas is not nearly so dramatic nor necessary for my presence of mind. There is no cabin fever here. Some of the trees, like the Live Oaks, for example, never even lose their leaves until March so the trees remain green and vibrant all winter long.

Still, the sight of fresh and new green leaves peeking up in the empty flower beds quickens my pulse. (Who doesn't get a thrill from the predictability and hardiness of perennials?)
The birdsong has changed and its melodies speak of nesting. One of our birdhouses is being inspected even today by a busy, little wren.
And the calendar is still on January!

And then, this evening a major flock of robins suddenly filled the sky.
Hundreds of robins, circling the trees around us.
Landing then launching again, chirping and singing.
The redness of their breasts glowed in the late afternoon sun.
Wonderful!! Incredible!!
They won't stay here (sadly) but are migrating through--
on their annual migration northward.
Get ready, those of you who are still covered with snow,
these definitive harbingers of spring are on their way to you!

Now that is pretty sweet, you must agree.

PS: I took pictures of these growing things but am unable to post them presently.
Sorry for the post of words only.
I promise to get those pictures on the blog very soon.
They are just too exciting to pass up sharing with you.
Meanwhile, if the view from your windows is not yet like mine,
rejoice in knowing that springtime WILL come... in time.
Remember, the robins are on their way.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

But Where Are the Pine Trees?

I always loved decorating the house for Christmas with fresh greens.
This meant putting on boots, hat and mittens and taking a brisk walk
out into our snowy yard or the adjoining woods. There were countless, tall and
fragrant evergreens--firs, pines, and spruce.
I returned to the house refreshed, pink-cheeked, covered in pine pitch
and oh-so-happy!
I often made my own garland by wiring boughs together into long strands.
Each tree produced an abundance of assorted pine cones,
from very small cedar ones to the long White Pine cones.
I'd bake them in a low oven so they would open up into full, beautiful cones
then I'd tuck them into the green branches along the many window ledges,
tops of furniture and stair railings.
The house smelled like fresh outdoors. Ahhhhhh!

So, when the time came to decorate this year,
I gazed out the windows at trees that looked like this:
Lovely, I know.
But this would work for autumn decorating, not Christmas.
What to do?
I was sad and uninspired. I longed for the northern woods,
the crunch of snow underfoot, the sticky pitch on my mittens.

Someone recently sent me an email which included the following quote:

Life is not the way it's supposed to be . . . It's the way it is.
The way we cope with it is what makes the difference! ! ! ! !

So, I guess I needed to cope with this better.

I looked beyond the autumn leaves and...

in the tree just beyond, the Live Oak (Don't laugh, that's the official name.),
clumps of mistletoe grow. And they just started blooming with these waxy, white balls.
Before moving to Texas, I'd only seen plastic mistletoe hanging in doorways...
This was the REAL thing!

In our front yard are several pretty holly bushes that also happen
to be blooming right now, covered with cheery, red berries.

I rushed to the garage to grab the clippers and dragged in an armful.
Little vases filled with with the holly and mistletoe looked
festive and seasonal.
I began to hum the tunes of the familiar carols, my spirits lifting.

Once I started, I was on a roll.
Back out with the clippers, I cut branches of cedar,
rosemary, winter berries of some bare tree and more holly.
The fragrance was fantastic as I stuck them in that floral stuff
and built up the "bouquet" around a tall, fat scented candle.

A few little red balls and a match and voila!
God's natural materials (mostly) turned into a pretty centerpiece.
My hands smelled like rosemary and the table looked nice.
Sometimes I just need to rethink things and cope better.
Beauty comes wrapped in different packages.
And it's all beautiful.