Tag Archives: March

I map the topography of love.

Yarrow blooming in front garden.

March is the month that my husband fell asleep in the Lord, two years ago now. My experience of bereavement is all over the map, following the topography of the seasons and the holidays and whatever physical ailments fall on me.

Most of the time I am happily swamped by a myriad of plans and activities, and tasks I’m behind on. But sometimes the absence of my husband when I lie down and when I rise up, when I go from room to room or when I come home from a walk, is like a huge and strange presence.

March always features Lent, which is a mercy, because that is an opportunity to focus on prayer, which keeps me in the present, where my husband and I are both living in the Kingdom of God. I can put our marriage in historical perspective and in the context of eternity.

This year once again I cooked for 100 people, with the help of several dear friends, an agape meal after last Sunday’s Divine Liturgy, as a memorial for my husband. I made the same menu as last year. We had so much fun cooking on Saturday that I completely forgot to take pictures.

But the night before, I had been soaking 20# of Great Northern beans to make the Greek Beans , and I took pictures of them soaked and being dried off on a tablecloth. They have to be dried off a bit so you can sauté them in olive oil before stewing them. Neither of the photos shows the whole 20#.

I also borrowed some pictures from last year that are pretty much identical to the scene from last week.

garlic and bay leaves
Preparing tarragon for cabbage salad.

Partly because of Lent, March is always very busy. Not all Orthodox churches are able to celebrate a full calendar of services, partly because many parishes have only one priest, and he might also have another job. But God has arranged for me to be where I can be nourished and helped a great deal by praying in church and receiving Communion several times a week during Lent. We have so many services that no one can attend all of them.

Yellow freesias starting to bloom in the distance.

 

March is when the garden takes off. If I didn’t have my garden, what would my life be like? Would I keep a tidier house? Pray more? Probably neither. I am always happy in the garden – and it’s a good place to pray, without a doubt. Better to have a garden that is somewhat neglected than to have no garden.

I started thinning the lamb’s ears with the help of a kneeling bench
that my cousin Renée gave me.

I used to not like Euphorbia (above),
but now that it is falling over my own garden wall I find I am quite fond of it.

lovely lithodora

The native currant bushes (ribes) aren’t very bushy,
but they are three times as tall as last year.

Bay tree (Laurus nobilis) in a pot.

The first week of Lent I started out grumpy. But Lent is a good cure for that. I have since been given wonderful gifts of thankfulness. God has let me see how all through my life He has abundantly provided for me, and He continues to do this every day. When I think of the love that has been given me in my childhood, my marriage, my children and my friends – and now the Holy Orthodox Church that is “the fullness of Him that fills all in all,” my cup runs over.

No doubt I will lapse into grumbling and self-pity before long, and have to repent again (That’s what life is for!) but the view of my widow’s world from this mountain on which I stand at the moment is quite beautiful, and it’s a Happy Spring.

I began this post yesterday, and then went out to pull weeds and deadhead flowers. I was kneeling in the mulch by the yarrow when the florist delivery girl walked up with an elegant vase for “Gretchen.” Lilies, roses, carnations, blue flowers, sweet smells… Before I could get it into the house I started weeping, not being able to guess who would do this – it could be anyone, in God’s world that is full of miracles, and seemingly brimming with people who care about me. But it was my children and their spouses, with an early remembrance of their parents’ wedding anniversary:

“Mama, these are sent in celebration of you and Papa, and with love for you,
from your children.”  See what I mean about that landscape?

March colors, surprises and celebrations.

ceanothus blue so hemI took a long walk around the neighborhood this morning. If I had brought my camera, I’d have more pictures to post, but then the prayer and exercise benefits of my outing would have been greatly reduced, so I don’t regret not thinking of it.

I noticed fuzzy chamomile plants close to the ground, and the cobalt blue ceanothus bushes such as we used to have at our former property. Many types of ceanothus grow wild in California but you can also buy them at nurseries. The picture above shows the color that is blooming around here right now.

pine cone forming 3-15 March is the month of our wedding anniversary, which makes it the month that we have many times made day or weekend trips within northern California to celebrate. Usually some blue bushes are flowering in the places we are visiting, and we are outdoors a lot walking or looking from highway overlooks. Maybe this is one reason that blue flowers have long been my favorite.

For example, Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans), which I first noticed decades ago in Big Sur. It can grow in our county and we even had one on our church property for a while, but they must not thrive here. The picture at bottom I took last year in Cambria.

P1120593 forget-me-not 3-12-15
forget-me-nots in the garden

 

At home this morning the pine cones that are forming in our big tree caught my eye. It seems to me there are double or triple the number of them that have grown there before — or maybe it is just my imagination.

 

P1120545crp

 

Is there some climactic condition that could cause this, say, severe drought that makes the tree feel that it is dying, and ought to get busy and reproduce? I’ll have to ask the children if their memories are different from mine. I still don’t know what kind of pine this is. The task of finding out needs to go on a project list that is buried somewhere here. It will be a small project just to find it.

P1120548 cones

The children I want to consult with, all five of them, will be here celebrating with us this month – we’re letting them do the traveling this year. It’s not like the early years when we had to get away to be alone. Nowadays being alone is the usual thing, and we are thrilled when any kids converge on our house.

Mr. Glad and I sat in the back yard this afternoon, on a bench in the sun. If I have many more days in which I accomplish both a walk beside a creek among the trees and sitting in the sun, I may find that I don’t need the Christmas lights that are still shining around my kitchen window.

sourgrass 3-15 crp

While we were relaxing and facing my potted plants, it suddenly dawned on me that sourgrass was living and blooming in the miniature rose pot. When did he move in? I don’t remember having sourgrass anywhere on our property in all the 25 years we have lived here. Maybe a bird dropped in a seed.

Another new thing is the Christmas cactus in bloom. The story behind my cactus is long: Friend May and I had both admired the mother cactus in our friend Jerry’s house for decades. It was a prolific bloomer and it was a huge potted plant on wheels, taking up a space about 4′ x 4′, with most of that measured out by long arching stems. When Jerry moved to a retirement home 3-4 years ago, May gave me a big chunk of his cactus plant with roots.

But I don’t have the wall of windows Jerry did, or any sunny and convenient indoor place for houseplants, so I moved my piece of cactus from place to place outdoors, and under the eaves in the winter. I made many cuttings from it and managed to give at least one away before they died of neglect. Last month my sister told me that her grandchild of the Jerry cactus was blooming beautifully on the central California coast, which was a big relief to me — my guilt at not providing a nurturing home for my adopted child was assuaged by knowing that the next generation was prospering.

first Thanksgiving cactus bloom 3-15 JerryNot a week later I walked past the corner of the utility yard where my poor peaked plant would have gone unseen as usual if its flower buds hadn’t glowingly called up to me, “Look at us!” I was shocked and blessed no end, and quickly moved “her” to a sunny place. Now that my cactus has shown a desire to perform, I am endeared to her in a  new way and have named her “Tylda,” after Jerry’s late wife.

pride of Madeira cambria 14

This site tells how to care for these plants, and it showed me that this one is not a Thanksgiving cactus as I had previously thought, but a Christmas cactus. It also says that they require cold temperatures to spur them into blooming. So perhaps it’s not a bad thing that I left it outdoors. I’m thinking of ways that I can be a better houseplant owner in the future.

But this month, it’s the outdoor plants for me, and I do enjoy whatever colors they are dressed in when they bloom. But especially blue.