The Bamboo Chimes Softly in the Early Morning Air

After a week of illness, a long weekend near the sea. I sit in the garden, strawberries and a cup of tea nearby. The clouds are slowly burning away but for now the air is cool.

Two cardinals fly from one side of the garden to the other, swooping low under the canopy of the trees. Moments later, here they are again.

They perch in the bush, feathers the color of weathered New England barns.

One bird darts away. The other immediately begins to sing. He flies deeper into the bush. Higher but a place I cannot see as well. He repeats his song.

Within moments, the first bird returns and sings his arrival.

When they have finished their reunion, they return to their game. One following the other in close proximity, they fly to the far side of the garden.

Out at sea, the sun begins to sparkle off the waves.

The Opening of Tight Buds

This morning I look in the mirror as I brush my hair. It has grown long these past three years. I twist it high on my head. It looks odd to me, this ballerina bun I haven’t worn since high school. The unframed face, the knot of hair visible only when I turn my head.

At the grocery store, I buy yogurt, granola bars, and a small pot of daffodils.

At home, I drink Irish breakfast tea and read last Sunday’s New York Times.

The moss of the daffodils is still moist. Four or five of the flowers are in full bloom. Half a dozen are still tight buds.

One flower is just opening.

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.


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.


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.