Stuck in the middle?

Early March means spring is just around the corner. Right? Where you live, maybe spring is already emerging. My mom tells me her tulip magnolia has already bloomed.

I visited Atlanta last weekend and saw a few early signs of spring, including this star magnolia:

EarlyspringinATL2020_FT

A star magnolia blooms in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park (taken with my cell phone).

But where I live, spring feels a long way off. We had snow last night, and when I left the house this morning, it was 27° and windy.

Gardeners around here recommend waiting until Memorial Day weekend to plant outdoors. So you might understand why I’m feeling stuck in the middle of winter. I know we’ll have some lovely days between now and Memorial Day weekend, but true spring feels a long way off.

Maybe you’re feeling stuck in the middle of something right now, too?

As my dog and I passed this No Parking sign this morning, a thought struck me. Whatever middle we feel stuck in—whether it’s the seasons, an illness (our own or a loved one’s), an election cycle, a difficult project at work, or fears of a pandemic—let’s remember not to park right here in the middle.

Noparking2020_FT

After all, if there’s a middle, there’s an end, too. So let’s keep moving. And may each moment find us feeling a little less stuck.

What are some ways you look for light and hope when you’re stuck in the middle? What keeps you moving? I’d love for you to share your ideas below.

Beating the summer heat

The unofficial start of summer kicks off with Memorial Day weekend, but where I live, we’ve already seen triple temperatures. Bleh. This no longer counts as springtime to me. Some of my friends love the hot weather. I do not. Though I was raised in a place of heat and humidity, summer is not my favorite season. It’s not even my second-favorite season. Life in California—with its cloudless days, searing heat, lack of shade, and rattlesnakes—has bumped summer down to my least favorite season.

As a runner, I find myself getting up earlier and earlier to dodge the baking sun and rising temps each morning. Yesterday, desperate to avoid a repeat of Monday’s too-hot, too-late-in-the-morning run, I found a handy tool that tells you when the sun will rise and set where you live. (Just for fun, I’ve set it to show times for Daphne, Alabama. You can type in your own city/town and see how it changes for today. Drag the daily line along to see how it will lengthen until June 21 and then begin to shorten. Type in a place south of the equator, and you’ll see the opposite effect.)

I’m not the only one trying to find ways to beat the heat. Western screech-owls have returned to nest in the box on our house, and a couple of evenings ago, I looked outside to see this:

A thirsty owl

An owl sat perched in the waterfall of our backyard koi pond. I didn’t want to scare it away, especially because the fish didn’t seem concerned about its presence. I grabbed the camera and took some shots from inside the house.

Continue reading

The Easter legend of the dogwood

My mom and I were discussing dogwoods recently. They’re the state flower for North Carolina and the state tree/memorial tree/floral emblem for several other states (Missouri, New Jersey, Virginia).

We’re fortunate to have two pink dogwoods growing in our yard, and they’re in bloom right now, just in time for Easter.

Have you heard the Easter legend of the dogwood? I thought I’d share the version I’ve always heard with you today, this Wednesday of Holy Week. Perhaps you’ve heard a different version? Or never heard the legend at all? It goes a little something like this … Continue reading

Between rain showers

I don’t know about you, but I always struggle the first few weeks after we “spring forward” into Daylight Saving Time. A few days ago, I managed to get out of bed at an earlier-than-usual hour, though it took until the sun was up for me to make it out of the house with the dog. In between bursts of rain on our quiet walk, I snapped this picture with my phone. The view and its accompanying quiet felt like a gentle hello from God.

I love this photograph for so many reasons: the play of early morning sun and gray clouds; the exuberance of green grass growing where I rarely see it; the meandering path along the flat trail (it plunges down just past the distant tree line); the stately oak leafing out to welcome spring.

The trees in this picture have survived not just one year of drought but years of it. Yet look at them. Look at those green leaves. Continue reading

Savor the idylls of March

I’m guessing at least some of you have already heard today the favorite warning about this date: “Beware the Ides of March.”

The weather has been stunning this week, and it’s too beautiful outside to feel cautious today. So I wanted to give you another way to think of this date. Instead of bewaring (honest, it’s a real word), how about savoring instead?

May I suggest you begin by savoring these “Idylls of March” photos? For a variety of reasons, they bring me joy and delight. I hope they’ll do the same for you this day.

My favorite bloom right now

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know my deep and abiding love for dark red snapdragons. Unable to find all red snapdragons, I settled last year for a flat of various colors to add to the garden. This red one is one of two that has already bloomed, and its flourishing presence is my happiest garden sight right now.

This next photo shows my second favorite garden sprout, even though it doesn’t look very interesting right now. For those of you who grow these, you’ll know immediately what they are. Because they die back each winter, I always worry a bit until I see the new spring shoots—even here where winters are much milder.


Do you know what this is? (It’s one of my garden favorites.)

As my husband and I were talking of garden plans last night, this particular plant came up in our conversation. He said, “You mean the dead thing?” Out of town when I cut away last year’s dead stems and leaves, he didn’t know new shoots had sprouted. I planted it just last year and so won’t be surprised if it doesn’t bloom this year, but some day … some day it will be beautiful.

A plant that blooms without fail every spring is this Clivia. Because it’s one of the first spring plants to bloom, I always watch it eagerly to see when it will open.

Orange Clivia

The azaleas aren’t far behind. Given all the rain we’ve had, I can’t wait to see whether they bloom more profusely this season.

The start of the azaleas

The tulip magnolias are especially beautiful, despite windy days and flitting birds knocking off lots of petals.

Tulip magnolias in the early morning light

Beautiful under full sun or full clouds, these petals danced in the breeze as I photographed them.

Closer up

The flowers aren’t the only things of beauty in the garden. This Anna’s Hummingbird is a frequent visitor to my feeder.

The final photo delights me for a reason different than all the others. I’m not a fan of squirrels (aka tree rats), and they’ve raided several squares of seed from our feeder this winter. My husband solved the problem by moving the feeder, successfully confounding the squirrels for a couple of weeks now. I don’t even mind the blue jays that come now to the feeder. Seeing the squirrels try—and fail—to get to this feeder provides a good laugh.

A joyful heart is good medicine. —Proverbs 17:22

Thanks for savoring the Idylls of March along with me, friends!