Port de Bras

Back from a week in DC, where there is still a nip in the air, I am driving down a main thoroughfare when I notice a cluster of blue bonnets. They are huddled at the base of a street light as if it were only within the amber of its light that they felt safe enough to bloom.

The weather here has turned warm. I sweep the house clean and leave the doors open for the fresh air, it too, to sweep out the rooms.

I deadhead the rose bush in my front yard, bringing inside the one bloom remaining. I clip a sprig of lavender; several small flowers cling to the curves of the stem.

I use a small black vase. I prop the deep pink rose into one arm of the lavender. The other arm reaches down toward the dining room table, changing its mind at the last minute to curve inward, toward the belly of the vase.

At its tip, several small flowers curve out and away, like the arm of a ballerina.

Perennial

Earlier this week, as I was driving son the younger to school, I passed a bank of Texas blue bonnets. Sure sign of early spring. Their bright blue the color of the sky in deep June.

I spent that day at the hospital, working with breast cancer patients on “self-portraits,” humorous images made up of arms, eyes, and lips cut from magazine ads. Bodies are diet coke cans, hand lotion bottles, a Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie. One woman uses a squash cut length-wise and pastes on its end so the seeds cluster in the “belly.” A sign of fertile creativity, I tell her.

At the end of the day, one of my small dancers hands me a fistful of wildflowers. Tiny white trumpets with stems like chives. Their green fades into the color of mushrooms where they have been separated from the earth.

At home, I fill a vase salvaged from an abandoned house. Kitschy gold, with a bulbous bottom and an opening so slender my few flowers just barely fit. I place it in my bedroom.

Th day has both begun and ended with flowers. Wildflowers. Fragile, yet resilient. Returning, unbidden, year after year.

The Hawthorn Beside My Doorway Blooms

The air is beginning to smell of spring. The buds come slowly at first, shy, like a young girl at her first day of dance class. Then with a rush of enthusiasm trees burst forth with pink, lavender, and green.

The hawthorn beside my doorway has small white flowers with a dark pink center.

They smell of my grandmother’s face powder.

The Warming Air

This week a guest brought ice cream to share. “Get out the bowls from the dining room,” said husband, his pleasure in using them evident.

We bought the bowls in Japan. They are small – just the right size for my fist to fit snugly. The exterior is a milky white, a white with a touch of gray, like the color of a frozen pond.

Each interior is a different pattern in blue and white. The rim of each is a chocolate brown, a lighter version of the syrup we pour over our coffee ice cream.

In the dining room, a branch of blooming forsythia is a cheerful yellow against the maroon of the velvet drapes.

Hiss and Steam

Earlier this week I stood ironing. My son’s school slacks needed pressing and I had a wrinkled blouse. It was a weekday morning, early enough that everyone else was still in bed and the house was quiet. I dragged out the ironing table and stood it up, plugged in the iron.

I am one of those people who loves to iron. The Virgo in me loves to see the creation of order. The wrinkled made smooth, the limp made crisp.

As I listened to the thump and slide of the iron, my eye fell on the countertop across from me. There stood a green Depression glass bowl filled with oranges. And one green pear.

Rebuilding

This morning the warming air hangs on the horizon, softening the view.

I walked by a house being remodeled. I walked into the driveway, into the backyard, hoping to peer into windows. But every window was covered from the inside with brown paper. They’re painting inside, I tell myself.

I look at the new portico, meant, most likely, for wisteria. I look at the new covered deck, meant for drinks and shade. I look at the siding, newly primed and waiting for paint.

I cannot see inside to where, most likely, there is new wood and granite. I cannot see the changes, but I know the builder, know the quality of his work, the excellence of his taste.

And for now, that must be enough.

Roses and Rosemary

It’s gotten cold here again. The sky is gray and the wind is blowing. The yard grows bare. Most of the four o’clocks have died. Only one sturdy plant holds its ground. No blooms to be seen and even the black peppercorn seeds have dropped to the earth below where, come summer, bright fuschia petals will unfurl.

The gardenia bushes are still glossy green, though no fragrant creamy white blossoms are to be expected for months yet.

It is the rose bush in the corner of my front yard which surprises me. Long a shy and reluctant bloomer, now, due no doubt to some combination of cold and deeper roots, it flourishes. A lighter pink than my perfumed Maggies, which anchor the other side of the yard, the small roses run riot. They reach up over and through the fence, brushing the top of the rosemary bush.

On the other side of the fence, the rosemary bush nurtures tiny purple blossoms among the long, flat leaves which, when crushed, leave on my hands the smell of healing and remembrance.

English Weather, English Tea

The chill has returned. I put on my “tete d’artiste” beret and wound my scarf around my neck. Shoving my hands into my pockets, I set off this morning at a brisk pace.

Halfway down my usual path, I noticed an unusual sight: one of the live oaks had been decorated with long strands of red and green beads. Looking more closely, I saw that each strand had a small mirrored disco ball dangling from one end.

On the other side of the driveway, candy canes surrounded a small plastic Santa holding his belly.

Back home, I took my favorite Japanese bowl out of the drainboard, the pink one with a fat cat and tail on its sides, and prepared to pour tea. It wasn’t until I went to lift to the bowl to my lips that I noticed I had serendipitously placed it so that the kitty on the inside of the bowl faced me, its eyes closed in pleasure, a small bell around its neck.

I too closed my eyes while sipping.

Where Doves Rest During the Day

Yesterday I took my time rising. When I went out for my walk, the air had warmed from the cold snap earlier in the week, though the sky was still gray.

On one of the wider streets, I looked up into a tree and found a long slender branch, the thickness of my thumb, had grown from the third lowest branch and meandered its way upward, winding around the tree’s trunk.

As I tried to follow its path, I found the treetop filled with mourning doves. Most swayed with the wind, one fluttered to a new branch.

Later, after I’d returned home, I heard a rushing sound. Going to the door, I discovered a steady rain.

The Respite

This week I went to the country. Two nights and a day on a small ranch near a small town in Texas. It was near dusk when I arrived but still I stopped at the small body of water near the gate and took photographs of the dried reeds, the rippling reflection of tree tops.

The next day I took walks and drank tea, read an old New Yorker and watched home makeovers.

When I left the following day it was still overcast and drizzly. I stopped for coffee but got a peppermint hot chocolate. Back on the road, I turned on the windshield wipers and listened to Christmas carols on the radio.

Bare trees lined the way, limbs bending earthward. Everywhere colors were muted: brown fields and gray skies.

Crossing a bridge, I glanced down. Mist hovered over the river.