Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tulips and "Tulip"

I shouldn't really be writing right now. Work is piling up on both sides of my small desk. Books have spilled over onto the floor since the dining room chair I was using to hold them had to be returned to its proper place in the dining room. Now when I put my giant history textbooks down they echo with a resounding thud throughout the house, sometimes prompting the Boyfriend to come check on me to make sure the books haven't won. That being said, some days you just know you have to write. Or I do, anyway. I get this tightness in my chest and it's hard to get a full breath. I get antsy and jittery in ways that aren't attributable to the coffee. That's when I know it's time to write.

I have nothing in particular to give you today. No gems of wisdom or sage advice. Oh wait, I never have those. But nothing in particular. And no pictures today. Trying to successfully load them into Blogger just makes the tension come back and today is all about calming, not stressing. It's gray and flat outside, which kind of fits my mood and makes the coffee taste even better.

This week has been busy, like they all are lately, but I've enjoyed watching the zinnias sprout in my office window and the tulips grow outside my window. A couple of the tulips are sending up stems with swollen nubs on the end, which means I think we're going to have flowers one of these days after all. The yellow pansies that overwintered in the pots have finally opened and some new additions in shades of red and purple have perked up the patio and front porch.

Speaking of tulips, one almost brought me to tears the other day. Now keep in mind I said "tulips," because "Tulip" is a whole different monster who often brings people--or at least me and the water company guys--to tears. Tulip is the name of the Boyfriend's rose bush in front of his townhouse. I think it's named Tulip because when the Boyfriend first moved into that house, he honestly didn't know the difference between a tulip and a rose. Alright, he probably could identify a rose, but definitely not a tulip. He knew irises--which were the first flowers he ever gave me--but that was it. So as we were walking one spring and I was talking about the tulips (because what else would I be talking about?), he pointed out to me that he had no clue what a tulip was--it could have been a type of rose for all he knew. Well, somehow the giant rose bush, which will probably be thriving along with the cockroaches and goatheads long after the apocalypse, was dubbed Tulip. But Tulip is really a whole different story. I digress . . .

We were on our way home from the Boyfriend's parents' house after some hard manual labor. (Ok, ok, he did hard labor while I ate pizza, drank beer, and looked at plants.) Since it was still light out at 7 o'clock, we drove by the Mini on a reconnaissance mission. Last year I planted a tulip by the light post out front of the Mini. It was already blooming, but I figured it would provide some nice color and then maybe even survive for next spring. Well, the nice color part didn't work out so well. It wasn't in the ground long before it looked like someone whacked the whole upper part of the plant off. As it turns out, I think it was one of the deer that roam around Boise's east end from time to time. The numerous hoof prints left in the wet spring dirt make this assumption more than just a hunch. In any case, when we drove by last week, there it was. It hadn't flowered yet, but the deep green leaves were standing tall, looking fully alive and uneaten.

I was thrilled and completely surprised. (Remember, I always assume plants won't grow or I will kill them.) I think I might have teared up a bit. Although I blamed it on missing the soft serve ice cream at the Roosevelt Market, it was really because I was happy to see that I had changed that place. I left something beautiful in a place that left me with wonderful memories. That's what the idea of place is all about--it's a give and take. I pictured whoever is living there now coming outside one morning--maybe to walk downtown or maybe to get a latte from the Roosevelt Market--and seeing that tulip coming up, promising that spring was coming. She didn't know there was a tulip there and yes, I realize she probably doesn't really care, but that's not the point! The point is that I know it's there and that from now on that tulip will appear every spring in the place that I called the Mini. Or at least until it succumbs to the creatures of the East End, but hey, even they are part of that place.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Perfect Week

I've heard many a real gardener say that vegetable gardening really begins on St. Patrick's day. So here on St. Patrick's day eve, I'm here to give an update on all the spring happenings at our casa. It was 65 degrees today and it couldn't feel much more like spring. What a great week--a beer drinking holiday smack dab in the middle of a week bookended by daylight savings time and the first day of spring. This might just be the perfect week. To document this perfect week, I had to include numerous pictures.

First things first: the dogs got their first outside baths of the year today. I would just say first baths of the year, but that might gross some of you out, so we'll stick with first outside baths of the year. I've included pictures of the clean puppies only because most of you have probably never seen them this way (and probably won't ever again). Just imagine the vanilla scented dog shampoo wafting through the house and it'll be just like you're here!

Now for a tour of the garden . . . We've got lettuce and radishes in one of the cold frames and transplanted onions in the other. We've been opening them a lot and the last few days of sunshine have really got the lettuces and radishes going. I've tried to artfully not get the third raised bed in the picture, because that's my duty to finish and I haven't quite got around to that. (I will, Boyfriend, I promise!) I put the trellis up today and planted sugar snap peas this afternoon. Our garlic has really started to grow in the last couple weeks too.

Two weeks ago the Boyfriend built us an incredible compost bin, and I've included a picture of his handiwork. We are such legit hippies now. The Boyfriend says we're probably the weird couple in the neighborhood, which made me so proud I was smiling ear to ear. Mom and Dad have even donated some of their lawn waste to the compost pile, so it's truly a community compost bin. Here's hoping the worms feel equally involved and find their way to our trash heap soon!

Elsewhere around the yard everything is coming to life. The raspberry canes I planted last fall have actually made it through the winter. At first we could only see a couple green leaves at the base (which I was obviously ecstatic about), but now it seems as if little green leaves are appearing everywhere. I also included a picture of my much-loved hydrangea and its slow but persistent march towards spring. Even last year's fall-planted pansies have turned from brown to green and some have little yellow buds that look ripe for opening by the first day of spring.

While lots is happening outside, we might have even more going on inside. As luck would have it, our house has only three south-facing windows. One is in my office but the overhang over our entryway (is that called a portico?) means it gets shaded quite early in the afternoon. Another is in the bonus room, but the dogs called dibs on that one for their lookout spot. They "look" with their paws, which makes putting tender plant starts there a bad idea. The remaining winner-by-default window is in the Boyfriend's office and he has generously donated his windowsill--and increasingly his futon--for the sake of our veggies. In the picture you can see lots of little pepper plants and I've also got tomato seeds and basil seeds (hopefully) sprouting soon.

There you have it. It's almost like you're here, no? Now we must get on to the St. Patrick's day eve festivities. The Boyfriend says you can't turn every holiday into a two-day holiday by celebrating the "eve" of everything, but I say the world could use a little more celebrating and I could definitely use a beer!

Monday, March 8, 2010

March 8

Today was a day for reflection. It's amazing how much can change in a year. Last year on March 8 I was planting Grandma's irises in a big concrete pot in the snow at The Mini. I was trying to be hopeful and optimistic, because being realistic was just too sad. I didn't know when I was planting those irises that my uncle would pass away that day, that Grandma would pass away that summer, and that those irises would come to be a happy reminder of a sad year.

This year on March 8, the weather was suitably gray and the skies full of rain that didn't give way until the afternoon. It was a good day to reflect on the past year. The quiet of a gloomy day seemed a fitting tribute to those who were in my thoughts today. It gave me time to think. I felt oddly connected to so many other friends and family who I knew were thinking the same things. I didn't feel alone, even though I was alone most of the day.

So much has changed in a year. This year, instead of planting at The Mini in early March, I have watched my irises come up at our new house. I planted them in the fall like I was supposed to and hoped all winter long that they would come up. When their little green tips broke out of the clay soil a few weeks ago, I felt like a proud parent. Nevermind that they're just doing what they evolved to do. I was so happy to see them. They didn't remind me of the sadness of last March 8 at all. When I saw them, I heard Grandma laughing and my uncle playing the guitar--none of the sadness. It's like they sang to me of all the happy things they reminded me of.

This past weekend, the last of my bulbs that were expected to make an appearance for my long awaited homeowner springtime finally showed up. They were the three little daffodils I planted in front of the rock by our entryway. They came from one of the arrangements that I cherished so much after the funeral. I cut the leaves off, put them in sawdust, and waited patiently until last fall to plant them for the first time. Thank goodness nature works even after you chop it up, put it in plastic, move it across town, and make it take root in the construction refuse that is our yard.

As if all these wonderful signs weren't enough, my hydrangea seems to have pulled through the winter. Erik cautiously told me there was a good chance it wouldn't make it--he knows how much I have been pulling for this little survivor. Our cold snap this winter was particularly harsh for Boise and it likely caused fatal damage to many perennials that can overwinter here. He even supplied me with two new beautiful hydrangeas last month. Well I'm happy to report that I think we'll have three hydrangeas now.

I don't know what to make of the last year. It's had some incredible highs--which you undoubtedly know if you pop in here every once in a while--but also some of the deepest lows. I've finally come to understand that I will never be able to wrap my head around some of the things that happened last year--I will never be able to make them make sense. But I've also come to realize that finding hope in the springtime, memories in my flowers, and so much love in those around me is an okay way to deal with that loss.