The picture below shows clearly how I’ve kept one of my Elephant Heart plum trees (far left) to about half the size of the other, by my prunings over the last few seasons. I don’t know why that is, but I seem to have continued the trend today. I pulled on my jeans and was out with the loppers before breakfast, because my gardener-helper was coming and would be able to clean up after me.
The north side of my garden is especially shady on this winter day, but it is a sunny and drying-out kind of day in any case, in the midst of a series of also welcome waterings. Everything is damp, and the sunshine drew out the scents of all the plants that we were trimming and cleaning up: a little bay tree in a pot, rose geranium, lemon. Alejandro said that even the fig branches gave off a pleasant smell where we sliced off a few branches in our team effort to shape that tree.
I found a flower on the fava beans, and buds on the azealea. The strawberry runners that I staked into the soil have taken firm root under the rice straw that is now so sodden that we threw it out. I hope it’s true, what those “old-timers” predicted when they saw the lizards last summer, that we will have a mild winter.
But the midwinter of 2018 was mild, prompting the fruit trees to bud early enough that they got frosted later on, ruining at least the plum crop — at least, that’s what Mr. Greenjeans, my youngest old-timer friend, told me.
I hated to stop my gardening this noon; I never get my fill of seeing the new buds, and pine boughs waving in the breeze – but A. and I both had tasks elsewhere to tend to. As the days grow longer there will be plenty more work to provide us with happy times in the dirt and leaves and fresh air. Every day in the garden reveals change and new beauty.
This poem by John Donne I believe did not start out as a poem. Someone posted it as follows, in poetic lines, but I found the same lines as prose on Bartleby.com, in the middle of a passage in “Sermons Preached on Christmas Day.” Donne evidently did not give the title “In Heaven it is Always Autumn” to anything, but more than one person has more recently used his line to title a poem, as I found in my searching.
Donne uses several vivid words to describe the winter we can experience in our soul at any time of year, showing that he is familiar with that inner dark and coldness. We know that he did suffer terrible grief when his wife died, and it was doubtless not the only occasion when he felt desperate need of God’s presence and mercy.
The first time I posted these words it was autumn, but now I am trying for closer to Christmas, in the spirit of their preacher.
In heaven it is always autumn,
His mercies are ever in their maturity.
We ask our daily bread
And God never says
You should have come yesterday,
He never says
You must again tomorrow,
But today if you will hear His voice,
Today He will hear you.
He brought light out of darkness,
Not out of a lesser light;
He can bring thy summer out of winter
Tho’ thou have no spring,
Though in the ways of fortune or understanding or conscience
Thou have been benighted til now,
Wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed,
Damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied til now,
Now God comes to thee,
Not as in the dawning of the day,
Not as in the bud of the spring
But as the sun at noon,
As the sheaves in harvest.
Last night just as I was ready to go upstairs to bed, I thought about how I hadn’t checked my fountain in the back garden for a couple of days, and the rain had fallen in very small quantities of late… so I went out in the dark with my flashlight and sure enough, I had let it go dry. I could hear the pump whirring inside but there was no water for it to pump up to tube, so nothing was trickling down.
I grabbed the hose and filled the bowl, but still nothing happened, even after a few minutes. So I turned it off for the night and decided I would deal with it after the sun came up. When I went out this morning I had rolled up my sleeves to pull open the “door” to the inside of the fountain where the little pump does its thing. I had put several inches of water in last night and had to shove my arm through all of that and wiggle the pump out of its cramped space inside.
Usually some leaves and debris have clogged the intake, but nothing much was there this time. I rapped the pump against the side of the fountain, because the people who sold it to me told me to do that if it stops. In the few seconds that all that took, my hands were going from painfully cold to numb. The water was like snowmelt. I didn’t bother to put the pump back but I turned on the switch again and water immediately began falling from the upper bowl. I just left the pump sitting in the water outside its compartment and ran indoors to rescue my blue hands. That was my winter’s morning.
But the afternoon was Spring. I drove only fifteen miles inland to the dentist and it was a sunny 72°. When I came home more flowers were blooming – the hellebores are going to town, and a new bearded iris had opened.
For my town they are forecasting 75° for next week – yay! But by then, we will have Sprung Forward for the sake of our crazy time-tampering 😦 Should that be the definitive sign of Spring in our Northern Hemisphere? I don’t think so! It is more like a trial and tribulation of the season, but at least that has the potential to make us pray more, and that’s very appropriate to Lent. God can use anything! Glory to God!