Here in Montreal our winters are long and hard. Winter does not retreat easily. He hangs on month after month, week after week. We tear off pages on the calendar and fool ourselves that “soon…next week……on the weekend” it will be milder, sunnier, warmer. It takes a long time for these wishes, these hopes to come true. Winter has its own schedule. For years my benchmark was St. Patrick’s Day. The turning point…we’re in spring now, right? Only when I stood like a pillar of salt in biting cold and saw my grandson dance in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade did I finally give up on this idea. It is not Spring. It is winters with a little more light. It is St. Patrick’s Day, no more no less. Even when the light draws green shoots out of the cold dark earth, snow can come. It does come. Many times I have covered the tender shoots in my back yard with newspapers to get them through a frosty night or to protect them from a heavy wet snow. They are beloved to me. I cannot bear to think of them being pinched, overwhelmed by cold and snow.
So when at last blooms come out, it has a meaning, a significance for us. The perfection of waxy magnolias is a sudden glory that comes to bless us even before leaves have come out on the other trees. This white beauty made me stop the car to take its portrait. The fleeting perfection of these blooms has a heartbreaking quality. Before you even have a chance to drag a dear friend to ” look, just look at this!” it’s shedding its petals. Carpe diem…hurry up and look…fall in love with me and be damned the knowledge that I will leave you…and soon.
And here’s this sober statue holding his rose right out there in public. This picture was taken the morning after Mother’s Day. So, what does this rose mean?
And this little Japanese almond that was planted in my garden long ago by a dear friend. It blooms very early but last year it became infested with gall, a disease of its bark that produced ugly growths. It was sick and I cut it back without mercy. I even tried to pull it out by the roots. I was a little disgusted by its sick appearance and I was a little angry wih my friend. I wanted it gone. But the roots were deep and it would ‘t come out. Here it is, the first blooming bush around. Saskatoon berry bush in the lane to come, lilac to come, mock almond still later, still to come. Even though I wanted to give up on this blossom, it wouldn’t give up on me.
There’s the thing and there’s it’s meaning. There’s the flower and there’s its story.