Locust Winter 2015

42 degrees.

That’s what the thermometer said when I peeked at it with uncaffeinated eyes this morning at 6:30.

So, I rubbed my eyes, slipped on my glasses, and looked again.

42 degrees.

Three sips of coffee later – it still says 42 degrees, but it’s not as fuzzy.

And, after three openings and closings of the outside door, I don’t need the thermometer to tell me the third “winter” of this Spring has slipped in upon us.

Locust winter is here.

Brrrrrrr.

And, yes.  Locust trees are blooming.  I saw one Sunday on the way to church – the racemes were just beginning to lengthen, turn white, and open.

(Can’t help but wonder about the Honey Locust trees at the Zoo.  If they are blooming, the aroma there would be delightful!!)

Redbud, Dogwood, and now Locust – that’s three “winters.”  The next will be Blackberry.

I’ve located two blackberry bushes, both of which are full of swelling buds.  It won’t be long before the bushes are dotted with white flowers. Perhaps, they will bloom during this week’s prolonged cool down and we can strike two winters off the list before May slips in and Summer’s heat begins to tease.

Not one to wait for Cotton Britches Winter to send winter wear packing to the attic, I’m already sporting shorts and sleeveless shirts. But, I’ve kept out a jacket and a sweater – just in case.  And, this morning it feels like a mighty good idea.

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Dogwood Winter 2015

Slow down, Spring.  Please, slow down.

Your longer days bid me linger in your presence.

But, you’re passing so quickly I hardly have time to enjoy you.  I’ll blink twice and you’ll be gone.

Stay with me…settle in and pass some time with me.  Stay a while and let me soak up your sweetness and savor your beauty.

Red tulips. Yellow daffodils.  Grape hyacinths.  Flaming forsythia.  Violet violets. Pink peach blossoms. Hot pink redbuds. Green clover. New leaf green.

You’re in such a hurry – rushing toward Summer…. Slow down.

Let me touch you…smell you…feel you…inhale you…enjoy you.

Pear blooms – nearly gone.  Redbud burst blooms a week ago.  Peach blossoms…dropping.

And, now…now Dogwood spreads its bracts, wider each day, pale green, greenish white, whitish green, whitish tan, whiter…then white as the flowers within them bloom.

Today, a cold front rolled through with rain and storms and wind.  Tonight the temperature will feel more like Winter than Spring and offers a promise of frost for Easter morning.

Dogwood Winter is upon us.

That’s two down.  Three more Winters to go.

Redbud Winter 2015

With bated breath, I watched the forecast late last week.  Lows in the mid 20’s were forecast for Friday and Saturday nights.

Peach and plum trees, in full bloom, would suffer.  As would ornamental trees.  The first blush of Spring would brown by morning.

I grieved the loss I knew would come.  Then, I acknowledged that it was beyond my control, took action to protect what I could and moved on, hoping for the best.

Friday night’s temp dropped as forecast.  There was talk of Redbud Winter, but no Redbud blossoms had yet been sighted.

‘Round these parts we have Spring “Winters” – Redbud is the first, followed by Dogwood, Locust, Blackberry and Cotton Britches.  By the time Cotton Britches Winter gets here, we’re usually glad for the cooler temps it brings.

Yesterday, Saturday, Hubby and I headed out on an errand run.  We had not gone 50 feet before I saw confirmation that this was, indeed, Redbud Winter.  It was as if the freezing temperatures had squeezed the branches and popped out the blooms.

As we traveled down the interstate, the blush of Redbud dotted hills.

Spring had officially arrived.

The last freeze of the season?  I doubt it.  The last cold snap? Nope.

Time to finish garden prep?  You betcha! It’s time to plant garden peas and lettuce.

Springtime marches toward Summer.  We’ve 4 Spring Winters to go.  Time will pass all too quickly as the days grow longer and outside demands grow heavier.

Now…if the rain will just hold off long enough….  My to do list just grew longer and more urgent.

The Promise of Spring

Daylight Savings Time slipped in last weekend and a week filled with rainy days followed.

I love rainy days – but a week of them? I’ve had my fill, thanks.

Sunny skies and dry ground – that’s what I’m looking for.

It’s time to reconnect with the earth and enjoy the changes that all the birds are tweeting about.

In other words – it’s time to get out the garden fork and turn over the garden soil.  Time to get my hands dirty.  Time to work my stiff muscles and build back what I lost during Winter’s idle days.  Time to plan the gardens and purchase seeds.

It’s time to face the future and embrace now.

Spring grass is growing.  Wild onions and blue hyacinths, henbit and chickweed will choke the yard – and the mower – if action is not taken soon.  As much as I dislike the thought of cranking the mower before late April, I have plans to begin early this year.

Early – as in this week.

The hedges will receive their first shearing this week, too.  Best to get it done before the poison ivy leafs out.

Gardens begun, grass cut, hedges trimmed….  That’s what’s planned outdoors for this upcoming week.

And, I’m looking forward to every scratch, blister, and sore muscle that will result. 😉

Of course, I’ll need my days to be longer than they were this past week.  I’ve not yet figured out how to stretch 24 hours into 36.  (If I could just figure out a way to live without sleeping or eating – oh the things I could accomplish.)

Heading into this week – head up, looking for opportunity, big plans, high hopes.

Snow…GO!

This Winter has been one for the record books – at least in my adult opinion.  It may not have set any records weather wise, but it certainly goes down in my book as one to remember. (Or, leave behind.)

According to Mom, it’s similar to the way Spring of 1960 blew in.  My brother was born during a span between two snow falls (thankfully, there was no snow on the ground when it was time to go to the hospital).

I’m hoping this year will not be like the years 1968 and 1996 where snow fell in appreciable amounts on March 21-22 (8.5 inches) and March 19-20 (9.3 inches).

By mid March I hope to have the gardens ready to plant with peas and lettuce seeds at the ready to go into the ground.

I hope.

We’ll see.

Of course, if things don’t go as I plan, and a late March snowfall comes, I’ll just scrape enough snow from the top of our car to make snow cream.

If life gives you snow, make snow cream!

And, people wonder why Southern Folk make a grocery run for bread and milk before a big snow fall arrives.  Everyone here knows you can’t have snow cream without milk!  And, no one wants to cook – so sandwiches and canned soup are a given.  Mom’s like to play in the snow, too, you know. 😉

And So It Begins

Monday, I cut Mom’s grass and worked in God’s garden at my house.

Tuesday, I cut the remainder of Mom’s grass and worked in God’s garden at her house.

Wednesday, I nursed my aching and out of shape muscles by engaging in a different type of activity…running errands and shopping.

Today, the first day in 3 to be gray and damp, will be an indoor activity day where I catch up on many things.

And, so it begins.

With Winter’s thaw comes Spring growth.  The ground, still lumpy from repeated frost heavings, brings forth an abundance of lush, wet, green weedy things that seem to spring up overnight as the days warm.  Some bloom purple and others blue – it seems a shame to cut them down before they’ve had a chance to thrive.

But, cut them I did.   And, I apologized to every honeybee I disturbed as I sliced and diced the flowering weeds.

What a green, gooey, gunk it created on the soles of my shoes, the mower’s wheels and under its deck.  (And, that was with the grass catcher on!)  If I’d waited until mid to late April, as is often customary here, I couldn’t have remained upright enough to push the mower.  The freshly cut grass would have been too slick to walk on.

As beautiful as the green, blooming growth was, cutting it unleashed more color…more beauty.  The lawn no longer looks overgrown and disorganized.  Tiny white flowers close to the ground are now able to shine in the sunlight.  Spots of yellow dot the lawn – winter stymied Dandelions.  Purple and white sweet violets, overshadowed by the clumps of Henbit and Deadnettle, now peek above the carpet of green.

As much as I hated to cut down and not harvest the clumps of Henbit and Deadnettle (maybe next Spring), I knew it was a task that would eventually be required of me and it seemed prudent to undertake it now and not later when it had grown to an overwhelming size.

And, so it begins – the struggle to keep growth in check and within the bounds of decency as Nature wakes from her Winter slumber and stretches green and growing toward Summer.

(There are several comments I could make at this point as I look back over what I’ve written.  In the near future I’ll revisit a few of the thoughts presented here. But, for now I’ll leave you with whatever direction this post sent your thoughts in.)

Spring sprang, or has it sprung?

Can it be?

Are we already two days into Spring?

Winter has been cold and long…Spring seems late in some ways…early in others.

I’ve watched the buds on trees swell to near bursting. I’ve counted the days and kept a check on night temperatures.

Spring’s arrival signals the rapid march toward Summer.

I ask myself, “Am I ready?”

Physically? Mentally? No!  I’m not prepared.  I’m not ready.

I need Spring to wait…another week or two.

Slow down. Chill out.  I’m…not…ready…yet!!

Got a long to-do list and can’t get it done if time continues to march on.

March. That’s a good name for the month that ushers in Spring!

Excuse me while I put on my yard shoes. Gotta check the peach trees…three sprayings to prevent worms…gotta catch the blooms at just the right time…. Slow down, Spring!  Give me time to tie my shoes!

Halfway Through

March is half gone.  How did the first half pass so quickly?

Here we are, halfway through March, and I find myself wanting to call a screeching halt to the progression of time and the advance of the month.

With the arrival of Spring comes an increase in responsibilities as life around me awakens after Winter’s slumber.

After the first burst of activity, the yards (ours and Mom’s) will be ready to greet the coming warm days and the rapid growth of all things green.  The gardens will be prepared to receive the appointed seeds, limbs will be cropped, flowerbeds cleaned, mower serviced, dead and dying wood cut away….

Nothing I’ve cut, cleaned out, cropped, pulled up or cut away has complained.  And, not one thing has told me “no” or prevented me from performing the task at hand.  Nothing said to me, “No, that’s not the way I want to be.”  I did as I willed…as I saw best…as I knew things needed to be.

I worked with an eye to the future and a plan that extended beyond the immediate.

My will – revealed through each clump of grass dug out, each limb cut away, every fallen limb picked up….

Ah…my will is flawed.  My knowledge and wisdom are finite.  I act as I see and know and understand.  The results are not perfect – after all, I’m only human.

Only human…why do I defy God’s attempt to dig out clumps of weeds, clear rubbish, remove dead wood, pluck out unsightly brambles…in my life?

Surely God, in His infinite wisdom and perfect knowledge, understands best what needs to be done in my life and how best to go about accomplishing His will for me.

Why do I struggle so hard against and complain so much about the tools He uses to shape me onto who and what I need to be?

I’m not yet halfway through Lent – thank God for that.  This is only day 12 of a 40+ day journey.

Now, if I can just take a lesson from nature around me and be at peace and patient as God has His way with and in my life…taking each thing that comes as from His hand, knowing that His eye is on my future and His desire is for my best.

And, I’ll be honest – after this past week, that’s a hard thing to do.  I want to control…be in control…be at the ready…be prepared for anything that may happen…have everything done, up to date, ready to go should I need to….

That’s an exhausting way to live…and it’s not God honoring.

Relax. Rest. Be at peace and free from care…stress-free. Realize God is in control and I can let down my guard and trust Him with my life and that of those in my care.

Whew….

The Swing Season

Two sunny, 70+ degree days opened this week with the promise of Spring.

By midweek the cold nasties had returned and the only memory of the glory of those days was a sunburn.

Today, well…the sun will shine and as it climbs higher in the sky the earth will warm to about 67.  With a stout wind blowing it will feel much cooler.

Ah well…that’s okay.  It’s not yet Spring, and won’t be for another week.  Just as Spring has her Winters, I suppose Winter is allowed to have her Springs.  (Lisa Patton, my favorite weathercaster at WKRN, calls this the Swing Season.)

Eleven days into my Lenten journey, I find myself frustrated for it seems I am in a swing season of sorts…I stay on course for a little while and then I crash and burn. The sun comes out and I find my way again and then a storm knocks me off course and Winter’s blasts force me to take shelter.

I am so accustomed to saying and doing what’s expected of me that I find myself on autopilot…acting and reacting in the heat of the moment.  It’s only after the fact that I come to myself and wonder what got into me and why?

Habit? Personality? Preference? I don’t know upon which hook to hang it.

Self led, most definitely…surely not Spirit led.  It’s a struggle to reign self in…to control that self within that desires to dominate me, rule me, regulate me, control what I say…do…think…how I act.

Situations arise for which I’m totally unprepared…don’t have time or resources to deal with, yet there they are and I’m left with the choice of how I respond.

Off the cuff…on the fly…in the heat of the moment…I often react.  The situation calls for an immediate response, quick decision – there’s no time to pause and think things through.

When the need is immediate, the response should be as well.

Isn’t that right?  It’s what people expect.

Wait…”what people expect”…that smacks of pleasing people and seeking the approval of others.

Instead of reacting in the way I’m expected to, I should pause in spite of the apparent immediacy of the matter and ask myself, “What would Jesus have me say and do?”

Meeting the expectations of others – that’s something I struggle with.  It’s not that I want to be liked.  I feel responsible for others who find their way into my sphere of influence. They expect something of me and I don’t like to disappoint.  No…it’s more than that…my self worth is to some degree wrapped up in who others see me to be.

No matter how I argue…it all circles back to what people think of me…how they think of me. Swing Season is in full swing for me…wow.

This is what my Lenten journey is all about this year…digging out that thing within me that craves the approval of others…that thinks it needs that to live fully.

I can think back on every day this week and see where I have looked to people for approval, for meaning, for fulfillment, for definition – whether by habit or by choice – instead of determining the right thing and asking myself how Jesus would have me respond.

In looking at the life of Jesus and reading the words attributed to Him, it’s easy to see He was able to cut to the heart of the matter.  Perhaps it’s because He saw through all the stuff and knew immediately what the heart of the matter was.  Ah, for the wisdom and ability to be able to do that.

It would end a lot of frustration on my part and free me from idiotic conversations that go no where, resolve nothing, and eat up precious time and resources.

Please, God…teach me how to deal with those things that fall into the category of immediacy…give me wisdom,  give me insight, give me words and clear thinking. Forgive me for allowing Self to react when I should have been acting on Your behalf.

Spring Sprung

After spending time indoors, I stepped outside to enjoy the sunshine and was pleasantly surprised to find Spring had sprung while I was cooped up and my mind was otherwise occupied.

Springs comes early in the South, and especially so near the coast.  By early February, buds are opening and flowers are blooming.

WOW!

There’s nothing better on a cool gray Winter’s day than to see the sweet reminder that life goes on and beneath what’s visible there is yet much hope.