14 January 2011

springs eternal

Last year after Christmas, I bought three amaryllis bulbs from Lowe’s. They cost something like three bucks a box, complete with bulb, orange plastic pot, and a little disk of peat moss that expands when you water it. I planted one bulb immediately, put the other two in the cool pantry, and then forgot about them. When I found those other two all dried out in April, I decided to pot one of them up to see what I got: Lots of leaves and no blooms. Hmmm, waited too long. Well, anyway, I planted them out in the garden in June (even the third one) and let them grow all summer long in the ground. Come October, I dug them up, shook off the dirt, and stored them in a Styrofoam cooler at the top of the basement stairs.

Tonight I will plant them. Margaret Roach over at A Way to Garden (great blog) tells me to “wake up amaryllis bulbs by watering once, placing in a bright spot, and waiting for them to respond. If no dice in a couple of weeks, water again . . . but don’t repeatedly water an unresponsive bulb, or it may rot. It will tell you when it’s ready for action.”

So, as the temperature outside dips below zero (–1.3°F currently and dropping) and drifted snow glistens in the light of the waxing moon, I am standing here in my warm kitchen—Scamp watching me from his bed next to the heating vent—and potting up these bulbs. I’ve done this about a thousand times, so I know the routine, but I am feeling tentative tonight. I want to do everything right: clean pots, fresh dirt, enough water, and a reasonable amount of hope.

07 January 2011

winter glow

Sometimes a shift in perspective occurs without my even realizing it. I began shoveling out from the Christmas snowstorm in a black-and-white world after the snow stopped falling on 27 December. The sky cleared as I shoveled, and the sun began to set, and this is what I saw when I looked across the road a little after four o’clock.

red, black, and white

A lovely snow storm two days after Christmas 2010. Another one is blowing through West Hebron this evening and tomorrow.

acony bell

The fairest bloom the mountain knows
is not an iris or a wild rose,
but the little flower of which I’ll tell
known as the brave acony bell.

Just a simple flower, so small and plain,
with a pearly hue and a little-known name.
But the yellow birds sing when they see it bloom
for they know that spring is coming soon.

Well, it makes its home ’mid the rocks and the rills
where the snows lie deep on the windy hills,
and it tells the world, “Why should I wait?
This ice and snow is gonna melt away.”

And so I’ll sing that yellow bird’s song,
for the troubled times will soon be gone.

(Photo of Eranthis hyemalis, winter aconite, from a Google image search and then borrowed from http://www.virginia.edu/blandy.)

And for those who would like a listen to Gillian Welch singing the song: