“Come, gentle Spring! ethereal Mildness! come”
Funny, I always remember the above quote as “ethereal madness” … and am surprised to look it up and find that Mr. Thomson, a florid-tongued 18th Century Scottish poet, regards spring, however gentle, as a season of mildness. I’m guessing he had staff.
More commonly spring finds your average passionate garden enthusiast—you and me—possessed of something more akin to madness. Armed with horticultural resolutions and big plans for the coming growing season, we fizz with as much vigor and energy as the awakening garden outside our windows. Even normal people—you know, the ones whose manicures are intact, and the treads of their soles aren’t caked in mud—participate in this spiritual snowmelt and register the rising sap of spring.
Since childhood we’ve been told that April showers bring May flowers, but as any experienced Pacific Northwest gardener will tell you, the floral show begins far earlier than that cruelest of months as surely as the rains continue far beyond its close.
I am, as I’m sure many of you are too, a bit of a wonk when it comes to weather, at least in the spring when stakes seem especially high. My eyes, when not on the ground at my feet watching for each emerging sprout, is trained on the sky. Wind direction, cloud formation, temperature, rainfall, or lack thereof is never far from my mind. Reveling in the luxury of sufficient moisture of a dewy, dripping—some would say sodden—spring, the dusty, parched days of the coming dry season seem a long way off.
We may complain, as all gardeners do, but in our heart, we know we are blessed with a benign, you might even say “mild” climate here in the Pacific Northwest. Nevertheless, hail, a late freeze, sapping wind, even the sudden unexpected warmth of a sunny day can mean the capricious difference between weeks of lingering vernal romance and the abrupt end to a season that is defined more by barometric conditions than a calendar construct.
Just as the turning earth brings us the dawn and lunar cycles fix our months, the constant orbit of our planet brings us the promise of another gardening season as we enter the cycle of wakening, warming and growth, that leads to ripening, mellowness, and dormancy. (Now who’s being florid?) This familiar rhythm is a gardener’s contract with the natural world. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Today is busy, and yes, sometimes frantic. An “ethereal madness” if you like. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Right now my husband tells me I need a psychiatrist for my crankiness and sleeping too much. Stupid time change always throws me off for a while and then the weather!
I wake to beautiful sunshine, bright blue skies, the daffodils blooming, the birds singing and flitting about and below 20 degrees. Grrrr. I go back to bed.
I’m with you, night night~!
“Florid” indeed my dear Lorene. You have outdone yourself. Now, if only we could find a way to keep that damn Viola ‘labradorica” from popping up in all the wrong places. I planted a few four inch pots years ago and it never ceases to amaze me when they magically appear in the most unexpected spots. But I think I get the last laugh when customers spy them in my garden and I gleefully pluck out a little start for them to take home. Call it a little keepsake to remember the Whistling Gardener by. Am I being too devious?
**blushing** Honestly, I think Viola labradorica would come up between my teeth if I let it~ And YES, you are devious for sharing – how delicious.
I was told that ants carry off the seeds for winter supplies, and that is how they end up all over the place.
Yeah, no mildness here in Northern California. Maybe the daytime temperature today is, but we’ve more wind and rain in store for us tomorrow and the coming week, and colder-than-average temperatures too. For those keeping track at home, we have received more than double our average annual rainfall since October (when we start our rain year). Some of us are still in “moderate drought”! All that rain has really made the weeds flourish … and made them impossible to pull from the loamy clay of my garden without taking a healthy chunk of that loamy clay along for the ride. But the cooler temps and continuing rain does mean I can continue harvesting my broccoli for a while longer, so there is that.
Oh Laura – I know! I was in the Bay Area the past couple of weeks and saw a bit of all the weather, and a truly impressive wind storm. Hang on.
“I’m guessing he had staff” Funny!
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I’m in central NY and we had two inches of snow yesterday – which has melted already. My crocuses and snowdrops have just opened in the last week, and I’ve got an inch or so of tulip greenery poking its head up. These warm mild days and cold nights make for good sugaring weather – maple trees along the roads are adorned with old-timey metal sap buckets, and larger stands have tubing woven back and forth between them. Happy spring!
Ever since childhood (& Little House stories) I’ve wanted to do sugaring. Yum!