Tuesday, March 17, 2020

... the bell of transience...

I concluded my last post with “Spring is coming. And, February will soon end.” Oy, I had no idea what March would bring so let’s hope that “March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb” applies to more than weather.

This week hasn’t felt like a week, certainly not a normal week. The days are swirled with uncertainty and a bit of fear. Camus writes, "The one way of making people hang together is to give 'em a spell of the plague." Here I am reaching out. I hope you’re all doing okay.
In many ways, I’ve always been somewhat prepared for social isolation. I’m not being funny or silly about it either. My fella and I are introverts; he’s been teleworking from home over the last six months. He struggles with depression and anxiety but working from home has actually helped him. I’ve always enjoyed my own company and I cannot recall the last time that I was bored. I lived outside of Boston for over a year and was terribly isolated. It wasn't so much people I missed but place... home. We’re all wired a bit differently.

Being quickly moved from face-to-face teaching at my university to remote teaching has been hectic. I’ve been a certified online instructor for several years. I haven’t always loved teaching online but I’ve been planning to teach online again this summer. Now everything changes and next week, I’ll have three classes that were in-person last week transition to virtual. For my students to remain somewhat calm, I must remain calm.
What calms me is my garden. This week, this new-to-us home and new-to-us land where we've been for a year and a half finally feels like a real garden. The Gothic shed that I previously wrote about was completed and I think it is perfect. I added my pumpkin yard art and other yard art along with some gardening supplies into the shed. That was the point all along to have a place to store my seasonal yard art and plant supplies. Really, it’s just an expensive, yet functional, garden sculpture. 

Adding some old friends (flowering Quince and Scotch broom) that I used to have in my old garden and some new friends (a forsythia bush) finally gave it the feel of a secret garden. I added the whirligigs into the copse as a secret forest wind garden (not pictured). Now, I just get to keep filling in for the rest of my life🖤

More hectic times are ahead of us. I hope you find a way to reach out and I hope you find ways where others are reaching you. May you and your loved ones stay healthy, and may you and your loved ones be a source of comfort and peace.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Death, the Woes of February, and Resurrection

February has always been my least favorite month. Some relish in their birthday months; I am grateful that it is short and will be over soon. I’m sorry to dislike any point of time because now it feels that the days pass by so quickly. I do wish time would slow down. I want to savor in these moments. Well, I want to savor in some of them.

Like the months in my youth when February brought illness and all those awful sinus infections, February 2020 has been especially trying. Emotional turmoil leading to physical sickness; and, then concluding in actual death, although February is not nearly over.  What will come?

I cannot go into detail about the work turbulence but it has been awful. I have smudged my work office three times and the main office once this month with essential oils since I cannot have smoke or flame. Then, my fella’s lifelong dream felt like it ended with a great deal of sadness. Again, this is not my story to tell so I leave the sentence as vague. There is great mourning in our home. Last week, a dear friend’s husband lost his three-year warrior-battle with lung cancer. The funeral was yesterday. Today I am still weary.

Winter Daphne
It has been very cold (for us in Virginia) over the last few days. Before that our weather was spring-like; again, this week will be spring-like as well. We have had rain for nearly two weeks, which has postponed my shed being built but has been good for the grass and our trees and flowers. The Daphne odora or Winter Daphne is almost in full bloom. I learned that in Korea, Daphne is poetically called "churihyang" meaning a thousand-mile scent because of the fragrance of the foliage. I brought some inside last week although all parts of the plant are poisonous to humans; some people experience dermatitis from contact with the sap. This I learned, of course, after I have put my face up close so very often. I wash my hands; I’m not worried. Since we inherited this Daphne with the house and property, I have researched a bit about the plants and found that they have a reputation for being slow growing, difficult and temperamental to grow, and expensive. When she’s not in bloom and I’m not sticking my face into her fragrant but poisonous flowers, which I don’t really have to since you can step out our backdoor and smell her, I leave her alone. She clearly is happy in her spot and has grown by at least ¼ since we moved here a little over a year ago. What I learned today resonates with my overall mood about February; Daphnes are not long lived, and begin deteriorating within 8 to 10 years. Our house is 27 years old. We know the original owners were gardeners. There is so much evidence of that. Then our home went into hands of renters for a good decade. There was much evidence of neglect. Even the copse was overgrown when we moved in. Daphne odora varieties have a lifespan of around 20 years. When was this beauty planted? Is she young or old? Is she in her mid-life? We have no idea just as we have no idea about our own lives. My fella says we’re just going to love her to the end. And, isn’t that the point anyway?

Bela Lugosi Daylily sprouts
On this cold morning, I go out to peep at what is popping up in the garden. The Bela Lugosi daylily is resurrecting itself. There are small leaves reaching out of the soil. We have small hyacinth blooms just starting. And, then, there is the lungwort. 

The lungwort is one of the earliest perennials to flower in the spring. We transplanted this one from my old garden at the townhouse. Much like an evergreen, it hardly goes completely away during our very short winters. The flowers of blue and violet will appear soon. The buds are already there are weird and fuzzy. One of my delights is that the flowers close at night and open again in the morning. The Latin name Pulmonaria comes from pulmo which means, the lung. 

In the seventeenth-century, the plant’s appearance suggested its curative powers and lungwort had a reputation for healing bronchial and lung problems because of its spotted or resembling as being diseased, and roughly lung-shaped leaves. Herbalists today vary on their beliefs of lungwort’s healing powers. Of course, what can stop lung cancer? 

Yesterday’s funeral felt especially sad because it was so personal. My friend’s husband wrote his own funeral program and even a letter to those in attendance. He had been given a 6 month life expectancy upon his diagnosis and then fought to stay alive for three years. The message to those left behind resonates with my garden. Don’t quit and have hope. There is promise in a new day and a new season. 

Spring is coming. And, February will soon end.