Tuesday, February 12, 2008

harbingers of spring

Yesterday I promised you an antidote to the dreary winter weather. I admit that the weather and the antidote are region-specific, but they're based on that principle that Tennyson poetically captured: Every winter turns to spring. So if it's not your turn yet, it will be. And if you haven't had any winter drear, well you can just hush, 'cause you have nothing to complain about, right?

Over at Polly-Vous Français, Polly explains the French expression, avoir le cafard, and its relevance to February. As she says,
In my experience, February is normally a month best forgotten: short on
sunlight, the slump of winter, gray despair stretched to the limit. No wonder
the Calendar Guys made it the shortest month. And there is the cruel addition of
an extra 24 hours of February this year, which is
une année bissextile -- a leap year.
But, she continues, it's 62 degrees in Paris right now, with blue skies, so it's "impossible to be down in the dumps."

Also in Paris, Geraldine at Café Mode makes the surprising claim that after August, February is her favourite month. Wow! I assumed February was universally reviled, so I read on to find her rationale. She cites the lengthening days, clear, fresh air, magically pleasant days (it's in the 60's, or mid-teens Celsius in Paris right now), and the new spring collections are beginning to arrive in the shops.

Well, I'm far from having Paris's joys to reconcile me to February, but today was one of those magically pleasant days with sunshine, blue skies, and I spotted my first redwinged blackbird of the year (I heard it last week but doubted my ears). And on our little island here, a February treasure par excellence, advertised on one of our island's bulletin boards, shown above. Amongst all that clutter of services offered, goods for sale, and events to mark on the calendar is this charming wee invitation:
The garden we're invited into was designed something over a decade ago by a wonderful old gardener, Phil, whose wife, Noni, struggled to get through winters. Phil was a master plantsman and he put his encyclopedic knowledge together with the green thumb and strong digging limbs of part-time hired hand Jane. Their shared goal was a garden to lift Noni's spirits through the winter with a combination of colour and fragrance. After Phil died several years ago, Noni eventually moved to a retirement home and sold the house (with garden). Fortunately, the new owners, even while they don't live here yet but rent the house out, realized the value of this special garden and continue to hire Jane to care for it. I walked by with my camera the other day to record these cyclamens that border the road -- a much bigger, denser clump is punctuated with snowdrops in the main garden, just below the hamamelis that should begin flowering shortly.

The photo above is my latest entry in Project Spectrum. I know the overall colours are much cooler than you might expect to depict fire, but you can't deny there's pinkness going on, and Project Spectrum's fire incorporates red, orange, and pink.
This last photo shows the mix of catkins (front) and leafings-out (on the Indian plum in the background) that really convinces me that spring has begun its week-by-week progress here and we'll soon be putting the winter coats away.


  1. February happens to be the month both my sister and girlfriend were born in, as well as the big V day which contrary to my gender I genuinely enjoy...except the Hallmark cards. And the bears holding cards.

    If you're going to be photographing such beautiful flowers it is imperative that you obtain a macro lens. Begin to drop hints widely.

  2. What a lovely story about Noni! What a treasure her husband and Jane created, and I'm so pleased that the new owners have kept the garden intact. I hope this continues.

  3. I'm amazed at the greenery - how refreshing.
    We are still in the depths of snow and ice. It's llbean boots and wool socks for me for a while.

  4. Like Polly, I am up to my knees in snow. It is so nice to see some promises of spring on your blog.

    I hate to say it but, I have really had enough of February. I am ready for March with the hope of daffodils sneaking up out of their snowy beds.

  5. Polly and La Belette Rouge: generous of you to enjoy my spring joy rather than resenting it. Hope yours arrives soon as well.
    Gina: I know! I think it's really sensitive of the new owners and suggests they'll be great neighbours when they eventually arrive.
    Thomas: I'm a pretty good hinter too -- have to see what I can do. . .

  6. I much prefer February over Jan.
    It's the promise of things to come.
    Knowing it's only a short haul til spring(this year's especially nice with the early March long weekend) Yes there's dark gloomy rain and lots of it but that one
    clear crisp blue sky day with the snow on the mountains!!

  7. I was so moved by the act of love that Phil showed, to create a garden to lift his wife's spirits. That's the best Valentine's messgae for today!

    And though it may be spring-like in Paris, I envy you your red-wing blackbirds, and all the other birds. Paris has lots of greenery for a city, but no wildlife. No songbirds!


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