Friday, March 13, 2020

Spring 2020

This is the time of year that I dearly love.  Plant catalogs begin filling my mailbox, extolling the virtues of a new rototiller or the latest daylily cultivar, promising clouds of butterflies or hordes of hummingbirds if I'd only install these plants in my gardens.  We've all seen the glossy magazine version of spring:  A dish of perfect forced hyacinths, new Easter Sunday dresses, April showers, May flowers.  But Spring, Herself, has other ideas:  A thunderous downpour that washes away tender lettuce seddlings; a cold northern wind that sneaks in overnight and nips the apple blossoms; maple tree flowers covering my windshield, insisting I scrape them aside like so much cinnamon-colored snow.

For me, the Spring Equinox has always conjured something wild and earthy, restlessly sleeping and undulating just beneath the surface of winter, the promise of magic waiting impatiently to break free.  The word vernal conveys a sense of the velvety fur coat of a mountain lion or a wild mushroom nestled beneath of bed of last fall's leaves.

But when does that precise moment of shift from winter to spring occur?  When is that exact point where day and night are equal, that subtle instant when it is no longer winter but not yet spring?  Certainly the seasons pay no attention to dates on a calendar, any more than the whietail deer makes a mental note to shop for his new spring jacket and antlers to go a-courting.  It just happens.  Maybe it is in that visceral urge that begins to bubble through our veins, first a tender effervescent trickle, then evolving into a roaring tidal wave, shamelessly shouting, "No more snow! Time to plant the peas! Time to feather the nest!"  Now the current is encouraged by the proximity of sun and pull of moon on the tides of sea and breath and blood, the same primal scream that sends salmon to spawn and calls the robins home to nurture a new brood.

Subtlety itself defines the flow of the seasons.  An autumn maple tree may shout "look at my glorious fall color!" but there is an underlying pervasive whisper tickling our ears to just listen, begging us to pay attention not only to the large and obvious, but also insisting we acknowlede the minute detail of tadpoles becoming frogs, poppy flowers that last only a few ephemeral hours, a snake slowly shedding its skin, the perfection in an ice crystal.  The pussy willow in catkins yesterday has quietly unfurled its succulent new leaves.  The grass that was dormant and brown yesterday has grown a foot  overnight, demanding to be mown, the grubs and earthworms under that blanket of sod still quite content in their underground chambers.  When did that daffodil open?  Goldenrod and milkweed languidly stretching tentative shoots in the meadow.

Maybe there is no precise moment. Perhaps the energy of each season comes wrapped in the cloak of its predecessor and successor, unfurling time and again like Matryoshka dolls, waltzing deliriously to the same music for eternal time.  In that case, Spring was here all along. She was simply wearing a different dress.

Originally published April 12, 2002

Friday, February 7, 2020

A Little Fun February Folklore

Every four years, we add a day to our usual year to keep our calendar aligned with the earth's orbit around the sun.  Since that orbit takes 365.25 days, eventually that extra quarter day would make February a summer month here in the northern hemisphere.  That wouldn't be so bad, actually, for those of us in the frigid north!

Leap day used to be called "Ladies Day", a day when women were free to propose to men.  That title was replaced with "Sadie Hawkins Day", although our high school Sadie Hawkins dance (where the girls invited the boys to be their dance date) occured in November, which is traditional.

Are you a Leapling (someone born on leap day)?  My third-grade teacher was a Leapling.  While she appeared to be about the same age as my Mom, her actual age -- based on leap year math -- was only 10 years!  As a child I found this hilarious, of course.

One more bit of Leap Year trivia:  In the year 64, Rome burned.  And in the year 1912, the Titanic sank.

You won't be sunk with our February grooming accessories!  We're currently working on St. Patrick's Day and Easter bows, and have in stock lots of new spring floral prints for our fabric bows.  Hop on over to our shop to see lots of photos of all the bow styles currently available.  Happy February!