Tag Archives: spring

Turn the poet out of door.

It’s the “false spring” one day, and the next, not. When I was at church to bake communion bread, it was spring for sure. Of course the dough knew it, and behaved accordingly.

Yesterday, the wind and various other factors contributed to further thaw the bones of my soul. While I was in my own garden trimming the lemon tree, pomegranate bushes, lavender and a few other plants, a series of great gusts came up suddenly, and made a clattering of doors and toys and other blowing-around stuff in the neighborhood.

The poem below doesn’t originate in my area of the country, so it will never perfectly fit the weather here, but I love the spirit of it, and I’m sure it will please a few of you in more northerly parts of the world. If you tend to be impatient with poems, try reading this one out loud.

TO THE THAWING WIND

Come with rain, O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snowbank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate’er you do tonight,
Bathe my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit’s crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o’er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door.

-Robert Frost

Because we haven’t had any rain in several weeks — or has it turned into months? — I had to put the hose on potted plants that aren’t on the automatic drip system. Hidden behind one big pot, this little great-grandbaby of a cactus I started was in full baby bloom. I brought her indoors to brighten up my kitchen, still lit also by the fairy lights, which are there for the days when spring is clearly not. yet.

In the fourth week of Lent…

Lithodora

…in the fourth week of Lent I was busy:

1) I cooked seedy crackers, vegan tapioca pudding, and pans and pans of roasted vegetables, including my own asparagus. I boiled a few quarts of ginger tea and tried out another vegan lemon cake recipe that I probably won’t make again. I’m done with cakes for a while. It makes sense to make cakes when one can use eggs and butter.

2) I baked communion bread at church. For a year we haven’t been using the little prosphora loaves that get sent into the altar along with our prayer requests, but we are starting that tradition again; four of us made 200 prosphora. What we call lambs, the larger loaves that we didn’t bake this week, are cut up and consecrated along with wine for Holy Communion. This photo is from the past.

3) I worked in the garden and the greenhouse. Most days now, when the sun shines, I open the door and vent of the greenhouse so that the seedlings don’t swelter. Then I close them up at night to shut out the cold marine breeze. Soon I’ll need to put a shade cloth on one side of the roof as well. The first butternut squash seed took an entire month to sprout; the next several were even later. Nothing like the pumpkins which were the first of all to emerge. I’ve moved most of the plants to larger pots so they can spread their roots in the next few weeks.

4) I shopped at a farmers market with Bella. We ate breakfast there and bought a few vegetables. How long had it been since I’d been to one of those? The sun shone and everyone was cheery. Then we went across town to her community garden plot, because she had a few potatoes that really needed to get into the dirt. I wandered around dreamily while she dug. Besides us, only a very quiet father and little daughter were working their plot, in which they had strawberries in process.

Bella sent me home with some horsetail which she told me to make tea out of, but it is still waiting in the refrigerator.

5) I went to church several times, and did a little housework, and got my taxes paid. I prepared for my church school class by reading more of The Screwtape Letters, and for the women’s book group by reading some of First Fruits of Prayer, which we discussed on ZOOM this afternoon. I ended up not enjoying that book very much. The Canon was not “itself,” plucked out of its normal context of Compline, extracted as a text to read, with explanatory notes but without the usual accompanying music, prostrations, and other tactile and sensory aspects, not to mention the fellow worshipers in the services in which we pray it, divided into four parts for the first week of Lent. This week we will do the whole Canon again, all in one morning.

6) I attended a doubly belated birthday party with my friends with whom I have celebrated for 36 years now, ever since we learned that we were born in the same week of the same year. At that time we lived on the same block of our “village.” Last spring we couldn’t manage it, so this was our 35th luncheon. We ate on the patio at S.’s house and the sun was just warm enough to make it easy to sit and chat for several hours.

7) I found these eggs that my daughter-in-law Joy knitted for me a few years ago, but which were stashed away in a box during the remodel. I posed them among the flowers but then brought them in to brighten up the living room.

This will be another full week. It’s such a blessing to have many different things to do, but — can you tell how worn out I am? It’s a great gift that God gives us rest, too. It’s the 5th Week of Lent – Pascha is coming!

Rain on my plum trees.

Last week I made a little trip to visit my horticulturalist/vintner/adventurer friend CJ, whom I hadn’t seen in a year. Her Christmas letter had gone to an old email address and I didn’t see it until that very day; when I read that she had started keeping chickens, I wrote and invited myself to meet them as soon as she would let me. She said, “Come today!”

It’s a good thing I didn’t have my phone on me as we sat in one room of the chicken house by the creek, where she has a lawn table and chairs for hanging out with her flock, or I would have made a fool of myself taking pictures of the beautiful girls, hens of all my favorite breeds: Silver Laced Wyandottes, Buff Orpingtons, Black Australorps and Red Leghorns. She sent me home with eggs and I had to explain why I am showing their picture.

This week we have wet and glorious rain. We, speaking of all God’s trees, grasses, shrubs, vines and flowers — and the humans, too — have been thirsty. Between showers, everything in the garden glows, but I don’t know how to capture that in my pictures. The Iceland poppies in the front garden are big and lush. Only two colors of the mixed 6-pack are blooming, and they look a little odd together, coral and orange, but that seems to be what they like.

In the back garden, I have another several poppy plants that have not grown above the ground level all these months. Maybe they are sulking in too much shade. But the stock and the plum trees are coming through with plenty of good cheer.

Greens, munchers, and seeds.

As I woke on Sunday morning I saw through the slats of my window blinds the full moon going down, against a background that was being colorized from gray to pale blue. Well, it probably wasn’t quite full — because Kate had sent me a picture she took from Panama City, of the full moon on Friday evening. Pretty close, though.

When I went to church I admired the flowering plums, and after my ZOOM church school class that afternoon, I planted SEEDS! A day after the full moon, a few hours before March dawned….

I was so glad to have a surprisingly balmy afternoon to work in, out in the garden. The day before, I had set up lots of little 6-pack  trays with potting soil, so that the soil could wick up water and be thoroughly moist. And because I ran out of time to plant anyway.

Two friends, Tim and John, had at different times given me seeds of Love-in-a-Mist from their gardens, one nearby and one in Oregon. So I planted them together, equal amounts, but in such a way that I could tell them apart. When they start sprouting I’ll update my blog report on what I’ve got going in there.

In the planter boxes I poked another (double) row and a half of snow peas into the soil, near where chamomile is coming up through the volunteer sweet peas:

I did some trimming and weeding in the rest of the garden, and discovered these caterpillars munching at my Yellow Bush Lupine. They are Genista Broom Moths, and I threw a few dozen of them into the green bin along with the trimmings. I’ve never noticed them as moths, but they look like they would be easy to miss. Maybe they will be a regular thing now that I have my lupine, which is the type of perennial and evergreen food they are known to like.

I feel about my collard patch the way some people feel about their chickens, or dahlias. They are so beautiful and healthy this year, I feel very proud and thankful, and want to take their picture again and again. Especially now that they are starting to flower, and I know I will need to pull them out and put summer squash in their place in another month or so. There were jungles of Hairy Bittercress in the grove of collards. I pulled weeds and pretty much scalped the plants to cook up a truly huge mess of greens.

Hairy Bittercress

Here is my absolute favorite way to cook collards. It’s a great recipe for church fast days and I make a big batch and put containers in the freezer.

COCONUT BRAISED VEGAN COLLARD GREENS

1 bunch collard greens
1 can of full-fat coconut milk
1 Tblsp. soy sauce
1/2 Tblsp. rice vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 pinch red pepper flakes (opt.)
1/2 tsp. sugar

Wash the greens and chop into bite-sized pieces. Put everything in a pot and simmer until tender. Add a little water if necessary and adjust seasonings to taste and to the quantity of greens.

I have made these several times with different amounts of collards every time. This last time I had at least eight quarts of chopped raw collards but still only used 1 can of coconut milk.

If you have a springtime garden, I hope it contains the minimum
of unwanted munchers and plenty of tender greens. To your health!