Intermediate month. I have had much more energy because of the longer days (we go to summer time on the 29th, but already have +4 hours of daylight since the winter solstice). Planted seeds and transplanted seedlings. Polytunnel frame up. New printer bought; the eight-year-old workhorse finally gave up. Outbuilding cleared and cleaned (round one, surely more to come), in preparation for artists to use while in residence. But we are between things here: plans set (the house is booked from June to November) but not happening yet.
Forsythia has emerged over the past week. First just the intimation of yellow on the branches; now fully out. I associate it with the architecture department at the U of M, which was the first place I found (and stole) it.
The pheasant is here daily. I think he would come inside if we left the door open. He sits on the ledge for hours (he is there as I type this) but leaves if we go outside. In the mornings sometimes he comes and knocks on the bedroom window.
Those tomatoes. Jonathan was enthusiastic and sowed many more than we will be able to fit in the polytunnel. But that’s ok: we can give them away. (If you are reading this, and are in Belgium, and want some tomato plants, let me know.) When I water them, they smell like summer. It’s not too warm yet (8-10° C) but when the sun is out it is more than pleasant to work outside.
The peach tree has buds. I realized recently how little I send writing out. I often feel so far from a writing community and so unsure of the things I am working on that sending out falls lower and lower on the list of things to do. And then I observe my friends and peers publishing everywhere (or just talking about sending out, which is, after all, what one has to do if one is going to be published) and I feel so bewildered. I have no idea, at the moment, where to start. I feel I’ve built an iceberg of stuff (I have: I have dozens of essays and stories, probably several hundred poems) that is now trailing along behind me in the ocean. In the fall, I hardly wrote (a few poems, not much else) because of teaching. Winter felt very dormant, but since the light began coming back I have been writing a great deal again. But what to do with it all?
Muscaria brought with us when we moved from England. The more traditional purpley blue. I also bought these ‘Cupido‘ variety (below) from Peter Nyssen. They are beginning to come up around the tree where we planted them, a promising cerulean.
I’m listening to Sufjan Stevens’ new album Carrie & Lowell on repeat today. I think he has hit it out of the park with this one. Narrative and image. It speaks to much I have been thinking about over the past year: family and faith, ellipsis, death, resonance, melody. It’s also just plain beautiful to listen to. It should be available via NPR First Listen (linked above) for a week or so.
The garlic planted in November is high, and the ones planted in late February are coming up. Joe’s boxes are holding up beautifully. We cleaned out the garage, partly. It’s all ongoing and labor-intensive. Actually, it feels like the work here will never end. We’ve had some good company for some of it, which makes it go faster and easier, and gives me a reason to make donuts and chocolate cake. I’ve found a way to make a perfect ‘birthday cake’-style chocolate cake, with a chocolate glaze. I will write that up one of these days. I want to attempt a marshmallow frosting next, but suspect that needs time and a consuming public.
New leaves coming on the hydrangea. Last summer we tried pouring all our coffee grounds on them to change the color of the flowers from pinkish to blue, but it didn’t work. Maybe this variety aren’t susceptible to acidic soil? Or does anyone have a tip?
Scilla, my favorite, favorite spring flower. We planted 100 bulbs. I think three have bloomed so far. Hoping for more. Will plant more this fall, too. These are also supposed to naturalize, so maybe one day this side of the yard (under the oak and chestnut trees) will be carpeted in scilla.
The ponies still have their winter coats. They don’t ever seem to mind the rain (or snow); they just stand out in it. They’ve moved and are now in the front, where there are also two visiting sheep. At first the white pony bullied the sheep a bit but things seem calmer now. Before the ponies begin shedding I want to cut their manes and tails and make those paintbrushes I’ve been talking about for months.
Coming to see if I have food. Sorry, girls.
And running away after a look from the white pony. Okay, maybe not all is utopian among the four-legged mammals here. (Nor among the two-legged, just so we’re clear: it might look like an idyll, but there is garbage to take out and there are dishes to do and we have arguments and anxieties and no idea what we’re doing with all of this, most of the time, just learning and paying attention and hoping we’re doing it right.)
Currant and raspberry bushes have new growth. Maytime work includes building a fruit cage. I hope we can get a lot of berries and make some jam/jelly. Also looking forward to multiple days canning tomatoes. I hope I hope.
The willows still look very sad after their seven-year trim. Another thing to hope for: that they grow back for this summer. They should, says the arborist.
Dark blue delphinium, bought in Ghent to remind me of Beeston, is coming back, too. Ashes for nourishment. Planted a peony corm in the garden in front of the house and crocosmia next to the door. Crocosmia remind me of Beeston, too, and peonies remind me of home and the U of M again. I have been working on an essay (loosely taking its form from Mary Ruefle’s “I Remember, I Remember”) about flowers and memory, and just here have found three more to write about.