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Flirting with Spring

first flower of spring - aconites

Winter aconites the first flower of spring will find any open ground to burst into yellow glory. Donald McClure photo

It is the second week of March.   The west wind is rising and seems to penetrate even into the sanctity of the old house which has seen 132 winters. Inside we are not apprehensive.  We have endured it all before. There is an end to it.

moon hangs bright

Dreams of spring on a late winter night open vistas of lush green days to come. Donald McClure photo

Outside the moon hangs bright and clear in the cold night sky,  illuminating the tiny diamond facets of ice crystals sparkling on the snow surface. The land is caught between the musty sweet smell of autumn and the warm earth breath of spring.   Walking toward the desolate winter garden, under the arbour we brush the dry climber trembling in the breeze.

winter sedums

Winter sedums topped with snow will soon be replaced by green shoots reaching for the sun. Donald McClure photo

Standing over the sedum stalks, edged darkly,  remembering the pale magenta puffs of colour that once transformed the path.   Dead flower heads hold a memory and a promise.  Dry and brown they barely stay above the white blanket;  a symbol of both struggle and rejuvenation.  If everything remains the same they will return again in succulent glory.

Along the border, collapsed foliage of peonies show faintly in the night.  Somewhere under the surface, cold-pink eyes of new growth emerge from the quiet roots and point upward, clasped firmly in the hard ground.  One day when the snow melts away, the sun’s warmth will send a signal to the mysterious receptor that triggers renewal and the process will repeat itself  —  as it does every year.

Under the snow the tiny time-bomb seeds of poppies lie awaiting ignition temperature to energize  coded cells to bring forth a unique explosion of colour and form, which will mass along the border in a carpet of indescribable beauty.

Under my  feet new tulip bulbs sleep in their tiny earthy chambers waiting for the fingers of sun to stroke them to life, to open their roots to nourishment and to bring forth the coiled-up flower that dozes in the chill dampness.

There is a transforming vision of spring exuberance surrounding the sear, stiff canes of echinacea, rudbeckia and pyrethrum.   Beneath winter mounds the still, thorny canes of roses — lifeless except where the retreating green lifeline of energy has made a final stand against the cold.  It is at that battle field just above the surface of the soil — where new life will emerge.

Obvious on the winter garden is devastation, havoc, ruin.   The hidden truth is renewal, revival,  resurgence,  regeneration.

I reach apprehensively under the burlap cover of the Japanese maple.  Fingertips glide along the frozen limbs, and brush gently over the swelling buds.  She has made it through the West wind.

To visit the late winter garden is to discover something of life, something of ourselves.  The winter garden is the promise of tomorrow.   It is hope, it is optimism, it is a test of our faith.

spring crocus

Tough as nails, delicate as crystal, the spring crocus will cast its bloom under any condition. Donald McClure Photo

Stark branches of the sugar maples frame the moon.  I touch the rough bark to find a pulse.   Under the surface, networks of conduits which will bring the sweet sap upwards to the highest branches  await the secret signal of spring.   A sense of peace transcends the bleakness of winter.

Everything is in place; the future is promising.

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About the Author: He can tickle your funny bone or tug at your heart strings. County people may know him as a chronicler of everything that happens (or should happen) in the garden, but his interests stretch across the natural world. His unique sense of observation takes in a wide expanse of living and may even point out some truths about our own condition as managers of the world around us. With Loyalist antecedents in his family tree his roots go deep into the Ontario countryside.

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  1. Donald says:

    Thank you Donna. Most of snow has vanished and after some consecutive sunny days our spirits are lifted and we are looking forward to all the good, warm sights and smells of spring. The Maple Festival brought our initial wave of adventurers to the County last weekend and everyone is excited about the season ahead. Good luck with your coming move to new a new home. Regards Donald

  2. Donna McClure says:

    Hi Donald! This was nice to wake up to this am and have an enjoyable Read! Looks like you may have more snow than we, though. You make spring sound and look like I used to know it, but just haven’t had time, nor desire to wake up and smell the flowers! That’s going to change very soon, believe me!!!!! Keep us lifted with your stories and times. Love you, from Donna & Bob, the relatives of the north!

  3. Donald says:

    Louisa you are a gem. Thank you so much for lifting this writer’s spirits. You are quite a writer yourself — and a keen observer. I feel it is a real priviledge to
    exchange ideas with a kindred spirit in this medium. Best wishes, Donald

  4. Louisa says:

    A lyrical journey along your garden path…and ones life. I felt as though I was right behind you as you explored and moved amongst the resting plants as they, and we, wake up to springtime. Beautiful!

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