THE DAYS are getting longer, you may have noticed. The sun doesn’t set until well after 5. Hallelujah to that.
Maybe I can delay yawning for another hour. I seem to have the sleep cycle of a farmer.
Little bits of stuff are beginning to emerge. The bark of a slender Japanese maple a few blocks away glows a rosy blush in the late-afternoon sunshine. The branches of the forsythia are swelling. A daffodil or two is poking up from the ivy in the front yard, the sunniest spot we offer.
All of the hydrangeas are showing buds, even Margot, who was so cruelly pruned before last seasons flowering, an event someone blamed on the squirrels, sniff.
The heavy snow of just a few days ago flattened the pansies and ornamental cabbages, but the new warmth will perk them up shortly. A clutch of these surrounds the red camellia beside the front door, which will be in bloom in a week or so.
The plants in the solarium off my second-floor office know their time is coming around. I can smell the soil in the morning, when I flop myself down at my desk for the day. The air is laced with the sweetness of the African gardenia and the paperwhite narcissus. Soon the Meyer lemon and the Key lime will chime in—the buds are so fat. This is distracting.
Meanwhile, My Prince is getting itchy to do something in the garden, a usual problem this time of year when for a day or two one needs only a sweater—some are already in shorts—before the temperature again takes a dive. A February Fool’s joke.
“Shouldn’t we be moving plants out?” he’ll say at the first hint of warmth.
“The last frost date for us is April 21,” I tell him.
“But it’s warm,” he’ll insist, and go off to arrange the porch furniture. He is so trying.
Though I don’t dare say it, what he should be doing is preparing to extend that solarium across the back of the house, a project now in its 30th year of thought—and second year of actual motion. There are architect’s plans to be approved by the city. A crew to help him must be found. He’s totally nuts if he thinks he can do this alone, and doubly nuts if he thinks I’ll stand there holding his nails and whatnots.
We already have wonderful high windows, almost the height of doors, with arched tops. Heavy old wooden ones found at Community Forklift, where old house parts wait for fanatics like us. These will line the wall overlooking the garden and open almost fully when the air is sweet. They’re being stored in a neighbor’s garage right now as ours is filled with all manner of other unfinished projects.
I want black-and-white tiled floors and a ceiling fan or two. And big white wicker chairs with soft flowery cushions and an ottoman for my feet. In the winter it will be a fine place to watch the snow fall. In a summer storm it will be a fine place to watch the rain.
I don’t know how or where I’ll work once he starts; the noise and cursing will be too disruptive. I fantasize about using the coal room in the basement, a small space at the front of the house with brick walls painted white and rubbed with age, and windows that peak out at the front garden. But then, I’ve fantasized about using this space for 36 years.
Like the garage, it is filled with all manner of unfinished projects. Sigh.
LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” is itching to get back out into the garden.