I wondered why I hadn’t seen any goldfinches on the feeder lately. It hasn’t been pouring rain all the time, and a couple of weeks ago they liked feeding even during showers. The weather has been mostly a big cloud, and then added to that, I have personally been Under the Weather. When I came out from under, and the sun also came out, I explored my estate this morning and discovered that the nyger seed has become sprout soup.
The Christmas cactus missed Christmas, being shut up in the dark greenhouse. Now it is blooming, and frosty weather isn’t imminent, so I took it out where I can see it from my kitchen window. The tarragon is growing well in that greenhouse, though.
How many pictures of poppies can I post here before my readers start to rebel? How would you show your ennui? Probably you all are too kind to say anything. It’s really not that easy to get a good picture of an Iceland poppy; there is just a moment when the delicate petals are fresh and new, and the sun is not too bright. Yellow flowers are almost always too bright even without the sun. They blooms can’t be too wet, or they hang their heads soggily. This one was a the morning’s gift.
It seems to be a modern rite of spring for those of us lucky enough to have snowdrops in our gardens, to take pictures of the lovely things to share online. My snowdrops are not as showy as some, but they are sweet.
I don’t enjoy them enough. They start blooming in January — I see them from afar out the kitchen window, just little white spots on the landscape, inconveniently located under the manzanita. Sometimes I delay venturing out into the weather to stoop down close, until the first blooms are starting to fade.
I read that it has been a tradition in Ireland not to bring them into the house until St. Brigid’s Day, and maybe I thought that I could also wait that long.
But most of mine are fading by the first of February. This morning when I saw pictures of two different snowdrop variations on blogs, I wondered if I could find just a couple of newish flowers on mine, and I did find more than that. Now they are on my windowsill in a place of honor, blessing the kitchen.
Update: It has come to my attention that these dear flowers are not called snowdrops, but snowflakes. They are in the same tribe as the snowdrops – or maybe not! It depends on which Wikipedia page I look at. Anyway, they are called Leucojum and snowdrops are Galanthus. And now I’m even more determined to get some Galanthus to plant next fall!
Another poem about things. This poet exults in the intimacy of humans with their things, walking on them, dropping them, nearly wearing them out — but to him, all that improves their appearance and even makes the things happy.
Since first publishing this poem, I have been prompted by Jody’s comment to add the photograph below, from Elizabeth Goudge’s beloved Wells Cathedral, completed before 1500, the steps to its chapter house since that time well “trodden by many feet and ground down.”
OF ALL WORKS
Of all works I prefer
Those used and worn.
Copper vessels with dents and with flattened rims
Knives and forks whose wooden handles
Many hands have grooved: such shapes
Seemed the noblest to me. So too the flagstones around
Old houses, trodden by many feet and ground down,
With clumps of grass in the cracks, these too
Are happy works.
Absorbed into the use of many
Frequently changed, they improve their appearance, growing enjoyable
Because often enjoyed.
Even the remnants of broken sculptures
With lopped-off hands I love. They also
Lived with me. If they were dropped at least they must have been carried.
If men knocked them over they cannot have stood too high up.
Buildings half dilapidated
Revert to the look of buildings not yet completed
Generously designed: their fine proportions
Can already be guessed; yet they still make demands
On our understanding. At the same time
They have served already, indeed have been left behind. All this
Makes me glad.