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!

Blooming where you’re planted, even when you feel out of place

I suspect a daffodil along my front walk may be trying to teach me a lesson.

Growing in a most inconvenient place

I don’t know if previous homeowners purposely planted a bulb here, right where a bit of gravel fills in spaces between our walkway’s paved squares. Perhaps the bulb shifted there from somewhere nearby? But each of the three springs I have lived here, the bulb has sent up greenery and a single daffodil bloom.

It’s a persistent little thing, this daffodil, blooming in spite of its conditions.

I admire its tenacity when the dog’s tail whaps it as she walks by (almost every morning and evening) and its unwillingness to lie down or fall apart during a round of hail this past weekend. I appreciate its quiet beauty. Continue reading

The springing of spring

I still can’t quite get used to how early spring arrives here. Record rains have brought a lot of green, and now that the days are getting noticeably longer (hallelujah!), trees are beginning to bud.

The rain has kept me cooped up inside more than I’d like these last two months, but as a friend pointed out yesterday, dreary weather gives us a good reason to get indoor projects done. She’s right, but I’m ready for spring, ready for beautiful days, ready for the earth to reawaken. As a writer, I spend enough time inside. The runner/ hiker/ gardener/ photographer in me is ready for friendly outdoor weather.

Whether you live here or somewhere still buried under blankets of snow, I hope you enjoy these signs of the coming spring.

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A plumcot tree in my back yard. I’m hopeful the rainy winter will mean more fruit this year.

Continue reading

A poem in honor of spring and Dr. Seuss

Oh, Dr. Seuss, today’s your birthday,
And you couldn’t have picked a finer day than today.
Spring has sprung its springiest flower delights,
And the bees and the butterflies are enjoying their flights.
There are places still sleeping where spring hasn’t sprung,
But the view from my window says it won’t be long,
Til we grab hold of clocks and move hours around,
And look for more petals to sprout from the ground;
And we’ll recall how you told us that outside was great,
Whether rainy or sunny or early or late.
Then we’ll set off on bikes or on our two feet
To see the new creatures and plants that we’ll meet.
But we won’t be afraid, and we need not delay,
because your stories taught us to set out on our way.
You told us we’d go to all manner of places:
Some fun, and some lonely, and some days at the races;
Your words give us courage, no matter the where,
And we remember you telling us, as if in a dare:
“It’s opener there
in the wide open air.”

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My poem comes along with apologies and profound admiration for Dr. Seuss, who would have been 112 today. Do you have a favorite Dr. Seuss book? I have a hard time picking one to call my favorite.

Spring has sprung for sure where I live. How about where you live? Any signs that the ground is waking up? If so, I hope you’ll journey out to enjoy the wide open air.

The first four California seasons

“Have you noticed we all say ‘Y’all’ now that you’re here?” One of my critique group members asked me this after saying the word herself. I’m not sure, but I think every member of the group had just said, “Y’all” in our wrapping-up conversation. It’s true. I’ve rubbed off on them, as they have on me.

I’ve been pondering this and other changes today. You see, one year ago today, I was on a plane, my dog in the cargo hold, flying across the country where my husband waited for us to begin a new adventure. And what an adventure it has been so far.

I sat at a cafe this morning—sipping an artful latte—and read a journal entry I wrote after my first week here.

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What had already grabbed my heart by the end of that first week was one of my great loves here: the river and the beauty and life that surround it. I thought I’d share with you some favorite moments (and photos) from my first four seasons here.

Winter
Along with the river, the mild weather of this region and oranges growing in my own yard are some favorites of winter here.

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The riverbank is greener in winter because it’s the rainy season. This photo is from before my dog met a skunk. I can tell from the darker brown of her coat, pre-peroxide baths.

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Just one of the delicious oranges from our yard

Spring
Although some flowers bloom through winter here, spring really is beautiful, ushering in abundant blooms and drawing wildlife out of hiding. The trees leafing out means more shade, too, a welcome presence along running trails.

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The earliest blooms of spring

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An Anna’s Hummingbird visits purple flowers near the river.

Summer
There’s no way to sugar coat summer here: it is ridiculously hot. But the mornings are cooler (compared to what this Southern girl is used to) and dry. I didn’t enjoy trying to finish runs by 6:30 each morning, but I definitely embraced the lower humidity.

Dragonflies darted happily around the yard and posed patiently for photo ops. A baby owl grew up in a nesting box attached to our house. I’m hoping for a repeat of all of this next summer.

Dragonfly2015_3FT Houseguest2015_2FT

Fall
Fall is my favorite season anywhere, and so it’s no wonder that this fall brought many happy moments. Clouds returned in September, followed by a handful of rainy days. The Sierra peaks in the distance have slowly turned white with snow. Trees transformed into vibrant colors, and at least one osprey followed the salmon run up the river. Fall here offers much to celebrate, and with the cooler weather, it’s easier to embrace being outside no matter the time of day.

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Leaves aflame (not with fire but with fall color)

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King of the river?

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One of countless salmon swimming upstream

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The Sierra peaks are even more snow-covered than this now. A promise of drought relief?

All the year round
I’m grateful for so many people and things that have remained steadfast the whole year. For my husband who has patiently weathered my homesick moments and encouraged my attempts at establishing roots here. For family and friends far away who’ve made the effort to keep in touch. For new friends who have embraced me into their lives (and into their language, too). All y’all are wonderful! 😉

I’m grateful for the great running and races here. For coffee shops and wineries and San Francisco not too close but not too far either. For Yosemite within driving distance. And, oh, the stars. How could I forget the stars? It’s darker here than anywhere I’ve ever lived. Just the other night, I noticed some stars in Orion I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.

Perhaps the greatest takeaway for me this year—a reminder I see weekly as I drive along a certain tree-lined, windy road—is that no matter where I live, this is truth:

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This message resonated with many of you, too. In my tree signs series, a majority of you chose this sign as your favorite.

As we head toward Christmas and a new year, I hope you’ll pause for a moment in all the busyness and ask yourself what you have loved about each of the last four seasons. What stands out to you? I invite you to share a few of your joys and delights from the year in the comments below.