Happy New Year!
As we wandered around a corn maze on a perfect autumn day, we came upon an enchanting gourd tunnel.
Gourds are natural born climbers. They seek out anything they can reach to climb closer to the sun. They grow so quickly it can become a daily task to move the vines away from some places you don’t want them to climb on. And once a tendril gets itself wound around a hold nothing short of breaking the tendril off the vine will get the little curlicue to let go. Not even the death of the vine will loosen their grip much.
~ Karen Hundt-Brown
(American Gourd Society)
While I looked, my inner self moved; my spirit shook its always-fettered wings half loose; I had a sudden feeling as if I, who never yet truly lived, were at last about to taste life: in that morning my soul grew as fast as Jonah’s gourd.
~ Charlotte Brontë
Yet poetry, though the last and finest result, is a natural fruit. As naturally as the oak bears an acorn, and the vine a gourd, man bears a poem, either spoken or done.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(A Week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers)
Nature is not a place to visit, it is home – and within that home territory there are more familiar and less familiar places.
~ Gary Snyder
(The Practice of the Wild)
It’s been snowing! I’ve come back from my twelve days in North Carolina, where spring has already sprung, big time!
Poor Katherine… it’s no fun when it’s so nice outside but you are miserable with a fever and a very runny nose. And you don’t want to get out of your pajamas or comb your hair or let go of your bunny or blanket… And your visiting Grammy still insists on getting some pictures of you!
Several hours later – it must have been at least 80°F in the afternoon!
I had a lovely time visiting the little one and her parents. Their new house is beautiful. Larisa and I planted some seeds in her vegetable garden, re-potted a couple of plants, discussed colors for painting the walls, took walks, ate out several times, and went shopping for all sorts of things for the house and for clothes for Katherine. I also got to spend time with my friend from high school, Susan, who lives only two miles away. We got caught in a scary thunder and hail storm one night on our way home from having dinner out. Yikes! And I had plenty of time to work on my ancestor table (see sidebar) while the family was at work and daycare.
Now that I am home work on the bathroom has stalled as we wait for the floor tile to come in. But a lot got done while I was gone. The new closet is framed out, the electrical and plumbing are all done, and the walls are up. And I’m looking out my window at about 5 inches of snow – quite a contrast to the daffodils down south!
There came a Day – at Summer’s full –
Entirely for me –
I thought that such – were for the Saints –
Where Resurrections – be –
The Sun – as common – went abroad –
The Flowers – accustomed – blew –
As if no Soul the Solstice passed –
That maketh all things new.
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #325)
For the first weekend of spring we decided to fly down to North Carolina to see Katie and her parents. Old man winter sent us off in the middle of a storm, a wintry mix that required de-icing of the plane. But we made it safe and sound and spent a relaxing Saturday hanging around the house.
Katie was happy to see us, and I like to think she remembered us since she had just visited us the previous weekend. Her parents have lots of weddings to go to in Connecticut this year so we will be having Katie staying with us for quite a few weekends!
Saturday evening, a friend of Dima & Larisa introduced us to a cooperative game, Hanabi. It’s a new genre to us. Our family loves playing all kinds of games, but a game without competition is a delightful idea to me.
Cooperative games contain one simple concept… all players work together to attain a mutually desirable goal. Strategies, resources and decisions are shared. The challenge and enjoyment are in the teamwork and the story and setting of the game.
~ Suzanne Lyons
Sunday we had a great brunch at Kipos Greek Taverna in Chapel Hill, and then we were off to a game store in Durham, Atomic Empire, to pick up our own set of Hanabi cards. While there we also found a cooperative board game which we are looking forward to trying out at home.
Later in the afternoon we went to North Carolina Botanical Garden to see Patrick Dougherty‘s stickwork sculpture, “Homegrown.” Some readers may remember that Janet and I visited one of his installations at the Florence Griswold Museum back in October 2011. This one was just as fascinating.
Another pleasant evening was spent playing Hanabi and then Monday morning Dima took us to drop Katie off at daycare and then dropped us off at the airport. It was in the 50s that morning. When we got back to Boston it was 22°F! Brrr… (But I still love you, New England…)
We humans have experimented with various social systems; some have endured and others not. I believe, however, that our well-being is tied not so much to the structure of our society and the politics that determine it, as to our ability to maintain contact with nature, to feel that we are part of the natural order and that we are capable of making a living within it.
~ Bernd Heinrich
(The Snoring Bird: My Family’s Journey Through a Century of Biology)
The temple bell stops
but I still hear the sound
coming out of the flowers.
~ Matsuo Bashō
(Voices from Earth)
There is an extraordinary place located in the quiet corner of Connecticut. My sister and I used to frequent Logee’s, a sprawl of greenhouses specializing in rare and tropical plants and fruit trees. But I think it’s been a good ten or twenty years since we’ve been there.
Flowers and fruits are always fit presents; flowers, because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. These gay natures contrast with the somewhat stern countenance of ordinary nature: they are like music heard out of a workhouse.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Back in February there was a discussion in the comments here about how nurseries in northern climates don’t open until it’s safe to start planting outdoors in the spring. For the first time in ages, this got me thinking about an exception to that rule, Logee’s, and I was delighted to find out that they are still open year round!
The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.
~ Jean Giraudoux
Tim & I made a trip up there on Saturday and the place was still a perfect antidote to the cabin fever which has been plaguing us. Several linked greenhouses are stuffed from floor to ceiling with colorful, bright and cheerful tropical flowers! The aisles were so narrow that two people could not pass by each other or keep from brushing against some of the plants.
Permission to take pictures was granted and I had a wonderful time shooting right and left, above and below, and at eye-level. An employee was on a step ladder picking fruit from an orange tree, answering questions while he worked. The stifling heat and humidity was a welcome change from the bitter and bone dry air outside.
I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.
~ Claude Monet
(The Fantasy of Flowers)
I came home with two impulse purchases, a climbing onion and a white Easter cactus. We’ll see how well I care for them. After a nice lunch at the Vanilla Bean Café, we went to see a movie, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and enjoyed it very much.
Each flower is a soul opening out to nature.
~ Gerard de Nerval
(The Fantasy of Flowers)
We noticed on the way home that the temperature outside had crept up to above freezing, just a smidgen! It’s time for the mounds of snow to start melting!
What a nice day after being housebound for so long!
To analyze the charms of flowers is like dissecting music; it is one of those things which it is far better to enjoy, than to attempt to fully understand.
~ Henry T. Tuckerman
(The Fantasy of Flowers)