A Spring Worth Waiting For


Spring arrived in fits and starts, and, mirabile dictu, on this late April morning our windows are still open.

Earlier this month we had the opportunity to visit family at a newly-acquired ranch a couple of hours’ drive away. The afternoon temperatures were comfortably in the 80s, but at almost precisely 7 pm a wind blew through and swept nearly 50 degrees away.

It’s been like that this spring.

Now the botanical aspects of our little piece of heaven are about as beautiful as they get: every shape and color of flower; a broad range of perfect greens still uneaten by insects who are wakening slowly; and the air still filled with perfume. And oak pollen.

I’ll start at the Natural Gardener, since that’s where all seasons begin. The new guitar garden is filling in nicely:



And every day trucks are delivering roughly a bazillion leaves, stems, and blossoms, some of which are in Technicolor,


others more subtly hued. Still, vivid.


Even the roses spilling over a rock wall in one parking lot are worth stopping for.


I hope you have something like a Natural Gardener.

Closer to home, by which I mean two feet from where I am sitting (at the space formerly known as my sewing area), a leggy treacherous cactus put on a lovely show for me this year.


(The white blob is actually a little concrete mushroom given to me by neighbors back at the little house. The beloved neighbors, not the loathed ones.)

Both of the rose bushes in the sidewalk garden were covered in blossoms a couple of weeks ago. Roses do love a nasty winter!


So do spirea, evidently. Now seven years of age, mine has never before given me a spring display like this. (Steel pillar wanted to be in the foreground and sometimes it is best to let inanimate objects have their way, lest they thwart you even worse than they usually do. Are you listening, kinky hoses?)


From the other side of the house, in the side yard where the trash cans and greenhouse reside, came the pungent scent of ligustrum, just like in every New England grandmother’s side yard. If you stood in that dense shade you could hear a thousand honeybees at work.


My bearded irises bloomed in threes and fours this year, but the Dutch irises by the front patio came all at once.


And little by little the wildflower seeds I threw down last Halloween are coming into themselves.

Another advantage of the crummy weather was the perfect excuse to stay indoors and try to learn how to paint. Although I have never had the least desire to paint roses, and I’m not even that wild about growing them, I found lots of free videos from a teacher of decorative painting that offered a number of worthwhile techniques: Paint It Simply

If I slow him down to 3/4 speed, I can sort of follow David Jansen on a few things; and I must say that when it comes to painting roses, my ranunculus are second to none.


Oh well. I’m telling you, I have tried painting roses every single day for two months and I still suck at it. Curious about when I might stop banging my head against that particular wall, I thought it might be time to bust out and loosen up a bit. My underpaintings were starting to get underpaintings.

So I looked up some videos of painters creating flower abstracts and spent yesterday morning creating a fine mess in the kitchen (since the best place for me to do something like this is a good-sized sink).

It was nice to quit fighting with Dave and have some fun.

It’s a perfect way to reuse the little canvas boards currently covered with ranuncuroses in various stages of failure. I used a great deal of water and paint, then lay a sheet of watercolor paper on the wet canvas. It’s a good way to learn what acrylic paint will do, and the textures are fantastic.

I know perfectly well that watered-down acrylic paint will not last into the next millennium, but who wants their first drafts lying around waiting for the Smithsonian to bid on them?

Once I’d lifted the wet paint up from one wet canvas, I used what remained as a background for a few flowers.


It’s been rough finding time to go to work. Fortunately the semester is drawing to a close and extra fortunately the next post in the queue – should everything go according to plan – will be about Rome and Florence, where my bestie Mary and I are heading. This blog was born five years ago in part as a way to efficiently share photos of my first trip to the land of my dreams, and I am beside myself with excitement at the prospect of going back.

Can anything possibly live up to that first visit? I have no idea, but for once in my life I’m looking forward to collecting data.




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