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.

Finding home in a garden

My mother asked recently what was blooming in my new garden, and her question provided the initial inspiration for this post.

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These yellow flowers have been blooming since we arrived here.

The beautiful early spring weather has also encouraged me to share some photos with you. While locals assure me this is too early—February can still bring freezing weather—spring is here nonetheless. I plan to celebrate even if winter resurfaces later.

I still find myself unsure about planting anything given our extreme drought, but I must tend the garden that surrounds me, coaxing it to be its beautiful best. Even if I don’t plant something new, the gardening chores—pulling weeds, picking up spent camellia blooms, trimming dead blooms—invite me to put down roots of sorts, to invest my time and make myself at home in this garden.

I’m excited to see what will spring up. Perhaps this is a tulip magnolia?

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Will this unveil itself as a tulip magnolia?

I’ve discovered mint, and the lavender continues to bloom in force. A variety of yellow flowers bring cheer as they open, and several camellias are showing off.

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The most prolific of the camellia bushes

Familiar plants remind me of home and remind me that this new home is not so foreign after all. There are unfamiliar plants, too: smaller, quieter blooms I cannot yet identify but welcome with eagerness.

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I carried my camera on this morning’s walk, hoping to capture the early spring in pictures. Cheerful birdsong filled the air, a hopeful soundtrack to accompany the beauty budding out on trees and along the ground.

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This tree started blooming a week or two ago and stopped me still mid-stride when I noticed its first blooms, stark against the dark limbs.

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Little purple flowers grow amid grass and rocks by the trail.

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My favorite moment came as I readied the camera to take a close-up of the purple ground-cover flowers. I heard the deep buzz—the kind that rattles your brain in a way a bee could only dream of doing—before I saw the motion. A hummingbird reveled in the purple flowers, too, and I just managed to click the shutter before it sped off, too shy of the dog and me to linger longer.

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Not my best shot but my favorite surprise of the morning.

Before I left Raleigh, one of my dear friends prayed for God to show off for me out here. This morning felt like God delighting in the early spring “garden” and wowing me with hummingbird moments.

Is it humanity’s origins in the garden that cause us to crave what gardens provide? Though not all of us enjoy the feel of cool dirt caked under our fingernails, God can speak to us and make us feel at home in the “gardens”—cultivated or wild—surrounding us.

Some of you may be grumbling that spring seems impossibly far away, but know that the earth is at work even under ice and snow, preparing a showy display of spring for you, too.

And all too soon, I imagine I’ll be wishing to trade places with you to escape the scorching heat and drought of this place. To shore up my spirit and embrace Jeremiah 17:7-8 (flourishing like the tree that doesn’t fear when the heat comes), I need to drink in these beautiful moments so I can call upon God’s showy, golden, thriving spring garden once it is just a memory.

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How do you see God showing off for you these days?