Friday, March 4, 2016

The Life Underground

In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within
me there lay an invincible summer.

                                                                                                       --Albert Camus   

Even when I was a little kid, I loved stories. I loved having stories read to me, and I loved being able to read them myself. I still recall a Sunday at church when an adult approached me, handed me a book, and said, "I was at the bookstore this week, and when I saw this, I thought of you." I remember turning to my mom afterwards, feeling a little troubled by the exchange, and asking, "Why would she think of me in a bookstore?" My mom laughed softly, patted my head, and told me that everyone knew that I loved to read.

One of my favorite stories was of Pablo the penguin, who hated the cold. At the time, I could not explain why I had such an affinity for Pablo. My only experience of the world was limited to Ohio. I didn't fully comprehend that there were warmer places in winter, but there was something about his desire to escape his icy world and head somewhere warm that resonated with me. Now it all makes so much sense. I really only like winter for a month or two. Once we reach the beginning of March and I'm still wearing layers of clothing to take the dogs for a walk, I feel a combination of resentment and despair infiltrating the edges of my consciousness. All I want to do is escape. 

But when I go into the garden these days and crouch down among the decaying leaves of fall, I find that there is a warmth coming from the soil. I marvel at what must be happening just below the surface. It must be a flurry of activity to produce the little nubs of Hosta leaves-in-waiting that poke their heads out of the tight network of roots.

The Hosta is preparing to unfurl its leaves

The Cyclamen tubers that my mom and I planted in late December and fretted over from that moment on are now producing the familiar heart-shaped leaves, proving that all of our fears were unnecessary.  We simply didn't have enough faith in the energy they had stored, but now I can see that all will be fine.

The first of the Cyclamen appears

The 'New Dawn' rose, which grew over eight feet in its first year, is sporting its first fresh leaves of the season. It's now reaching through the upper beams of the pergola, and I'm tying it in, hoping that it will scramble across the top and provide some shade this year. 

It's a 'New Dawn' in the garden

The 'Painted Lady' ferns, which had retreated into the clay over the winter, are beginning to creep out and unroll their fronds, stretching out into the warm light before the crepe myrtles leaf out and plunge them into shade.

The ferns actually seem to be multiplying

And scattered across the property are the real harbingers of spring, the daffodils. Their sunny heads assure me that the cold will soon be escorted out. There's no need for me to take the perilous trip that Pablo made. The signs of warmer weather are all around us, and little unseen things are hard at work, making ready for the season to come. 

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