Tuesday, February 25, 2014

there's something about a Campanula

I planned to rhapsodize on the beauty of bell-shaped flowers, 
bluebell, foxglove, lily of the valley..
then I started thinking about sweet peas, delphiniums, violets...
all beautiful. (what about me, says the snapdragon)

It's like when I smell a daffodil and think that's my favorite, 
and then I smell  freesia, lilac, rose, and that's my favorite.

I bought these at Whole Foods, where they tried to convince me that a dozen Valentine leftover roses (on sale!) would go well with snapdragons and bellflowers. I tried, I really did, but they were looking forlorn, and I turned away. It made me think of all the unused flowers that must get thrown out in the third week of February.

Let's not think about that.

 I simply want to share the joy of pink and white flowers.

Friday, February 21, 2014

winter reading

Looking for answers I am reading Winter Worldby Bernard Heinrich. I've not discovered the secret of deer winter watering holes, but I did find out why ice doesn't sink:

There is something quite remarkable, simple, and yet profoundly important that happens when water turns to ice in a pond. Compare this with what happens when water turns to ice in a cloud. In a cloud, the ice crystals fall because water and ice are heavier than air and the gas phase of water. However water becomes lighter when it transforms from a liquid to a solid state.

Is that something I should have known?

 I just finished rereading The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje. Oh, that man can write.

Sometimes when she is able to spend the night with him they are wakened by the three minarets of the city beginning their prayers before dawn. He walks with her through the indigo markets that lie between South Cairo and her home. The beautiful songs of faith enter the air like arrows, one minaret answering another, as if passing on a rumor of the two of them as they walk through the cold morning air, the smell of charcoal and hemp already making the air profound. 


Read him slowly, dear girl, you must read Kipling slowly. Watch carefully where the commas fall so you can discover the natural pauses. He is a writer who used pen and ink. He looked up from the page a lot, I believe, stared through his window and listened to birds, as most writers who are alone do. Some do not know the names of birds, though he did. Your eye is too quick and North American. Think about the speed of his pen. What an appalling, barnacled old first paragraph it is otherwise.

I keep thinking about the phrase "appalling, barnacled old first paragraph". The brilliant use of the word barnacled. I've read most of Ondaatje's books, but not In the Skin of a Lion. That's next.

Monday, February 17, 2014

a winter country weekend

The snow on the ground was three feet deep, the waterfall thick with ice.
There was a hole in the frozen creek.
and a deer trail leading to it.
How did the hole get there?
(she pictures deer stomping on the ice)
There's so much I don't know.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

we prize any tenderness

Cats are skilled at finding warm places. Here Aji nests on moth-eaten sweaters tossed aside temporarily, (they now serve as yet another cat bed).

It's been bitter cold and icy for so long that I can't remember the last time I took a walk for pleasure. But there is bright sun today and so I will venture out, "go forth in winter" for a stroll before tomorrow's storm.

"If you are sick and despairing, go forth in winter and see the red alder catkins dangling at the extremity of the twigs all in the wintry air, like long, hard mulberries, promising a new spring and the fulfillment of all our hopes. We prize any tenderness, any softening in the winter, catkins, birds nests, insect life, etc."


I especially love the last sentence.

If you're wondering (like I was) what a red alder catkin is, see here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

yellow daffodils, purple scarf

 Daffodils in the house,
sassy yellow, scent of spring. 

It's hard to be winter broody with 
their cheerful daffodilly selves at my side.

When I was in New York I admired the scarf that
 my son's fiancee's mother, Carol
(there must be a better way to explain that relationship)
 was wearing, and she knit one for me.

A surprise package in the mail, such a treat.

It is wonderfully thick and textured, long and wavy.

I wear it outside in the frigid air,
 and inside too, sometimes.

It goes beautifully with books and tea and daffodils
and reminds me of good things.

Visit Small but Charming for more Flowers in the House.

You'll be glad you did.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

attention, famille excentrique

The only time I regret my lack of camera skill is when I travel. At home cats, flowers and books are good subjects for small pictures and infinite blog posts.

Between blizzards we enjoyed a long weekend in Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia (a two hour flight from Boston and two hour drive from Charleston to Savannah).

You will have to search elsewhere for pictures that do these charming, historic, coastal cities justice. Cobblestone streets, 19th century houses, rivers, low country, sea islands, shrimp and grits, verandahs, pimento cheese, biscuits...

Charleston is more compact than I expected, with narrow streets, a marvelous variety of houses, many galleries, and French elements in the architecture and cuisine.

Savannah is laid out around a series of squares, so you are never more than a block from a park.Very beautiful, European feel. Tree-lined boulevards, trickling fountains, Spanish moss, weathered brick, wrought iron...

Both cities overflow with greenery. I can imagine how gorgeous they are blossoming in spring and summer. If you've read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil you're aware that Savannah is known for its tolerance of eccentrics.

I saw this sign on a door and thought
  I really need one for my own famille excentrique.