When does Spring Arrive?

The grocery store encourages me

After days of grey skies and fine snow, just seeing these beauties made me smile. Genius marketing. The colors and scents of these blossoms reminded me that there is more to life than trudging through January.


A lot of my footwear is Colombia, from everyday boots to trail runners that conquered the Camino de Santiago. I’ve had this venerable pair of boots for what feels like forever. During a Colombia sale I finally chose a new pair-not quite so Santa like but still pretty snazzy. Went to pick them up from the post office and decided to ditch these venerables right there in the recycling bin of the Shopping Centre. When memories become baggage it’s time to let go!

Tomorrow is St Bridget’s Day. Let her drag Spring in here by the frostbitten ear!

Flowers have a Meaning too


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.


Just a marketing ploy



Now that all the Christmas stuff has been banished from the grocery store ( you know, it’s a big store that sells clothes and dishes and toys as well as actual food) it’s time to move on.  There were a few straggling artificial branches of firs with cones or holly-looking things I couldn’t clearly identify.  They were drastically marked down, as in from $8 to .75 c.  Even I cannot resist that.  Those remnants seemed more appropriate to a day  that boasted impassable plaques of ice in the store parking lot and a sixty kilometre wind coupled with temperatures of minus twenty five.  It is winter, the dead of winter where the wicked Snow Queen draws her white furs around her and hurries off for a hot chocolate.  One worries about that one pipe in the house that is a little too close to the exposed brick wall.  One worries about whether the car will start.  I endure street parking with all that that entails.  One worries about a mail man or woman slipping on my snowy or icy steps.  What is better, the eight-block walk to the metro or the battle for a legal and minimally cleared parking spot downtown?The days are pitifully short, the nights endless.  It indeed winter and it will be winter for a long, long time.

But the marketing gurus in the stores are determined to turn over a new leaf ( even if the blasted leafless trees are waving their desperate branches in the gale-force winds). They know that we cannot resist.  They offer artificial forsythia, apple blossoms and peonies.  Well, there I thought they were going a bit far.  But better than the made in China falsies, there they were –  spring flowers, seducing shoppers to spend their grocery money on their soft, pastel faces, their silky petals and to hell with cheese and hamburger meat.  The only snag was that the perilous journey to the car would last more than the two minutes it would to freeze them to a tragic death.  I sniffed, touched and photographed.  But I know it is soon, too soon for this to be true.  This week in the grocery store, hope is on special.