Spring, or Even Though I Don’t Know the Names of Flowers, I Still Like Them

 What a nice surprise in March to be driving along a street and round a corner and come across an otherwise empty space that’s bursting with cheerfully waving daffodils buttercups narcissus paper whites yellow and white flowers of some type. Thank you, city of Tupelo, Miss.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?!!!


To: All the Other Flowers      —–     From: The Pansies   ———-    Subject: What’s Taking Y’all So Long????

Look, guys, y’all need to speed it up a bit. I mean, we’ve been holding down the nursery fort here for months already, and people are starting to talk. There are murmurs and whispering. We can hear it. We can feel the unease and impatience as people bring their station wagons and SUVs and pickup trucks looking for … well, impatiens. Folks are ready to load up and take all y’all home and settle you in to some nice warm dirt, and all they get is us. And we’re good —  pansies in February rock, don’t get us wrong — but we’re getting tired already.  And old. We really don’t need to be carrying the whole front-yard landscaping thing anymore by ourselves. We had some support a month or so ago, but those showy ol’ tulips have toddled away and those daffy daffodils have ducked out by now, leaving only the irritating iris to help us out — and we all remember what happened the year they thought they were in charge, don’t we? Do we want a repeat of that debacle? No, we do not.  So, c’mon, you coleus. Get going, geraniums. Make tracks, marigolds and pick up speed, petunias. It’s time for you young kids to take over. We pansies are ready for our long summer’s nap.

Summer Comes to Springville Hill, or How the Decemberists’ Lovely Song Makes Me Think of Alabama in April

Here’s a hymn to welcome in the day.
Heralding a summer’s early sway.
And all the bulbs all coming in
To begin.
The thrushes bleating battle with the wrens
Disrupts my reverie again.

Pegging clothing on the line,
Training jasmine how to vine
Up the arbor to your door,
And more.
You’re standing on the landing with the war
You shouldered all the night before.

And once upon it
The yellow bonnets
Garland all the lawn.
And you were waking,
And day was breaking.
A panoply of song,
And summer comes to Springville Hill.

A barony of ivy in the trees,
Expanding out its empire by degrees.
And all the branches burst to bloom
In the boom.
Heaven sent this cardinal maroon
To decorate our living room.

And once upon it
The yellow bonnets
Garland all the lawn.
And you were waking,
And day was breaking.
A panoply of song.
And summer comes to Springville Hill.

— “June Hymn,” from The Decemberists’ album The King is Dead.

Listening to this oh-so-pretty song puts me in such a good mellow mood. And I know that the Decemberists are Yankees and are from Up North Somewhere where it’s not until June that the bulbs bloom and the trees flower and winter sort of slinks away. Here in The South, however, March and April — like, right now — is when all that happens. June is when we start complaining about 100-degree heat and it’s only the thought that football is a mere four months away that pulls us through.


Tuscumbia, Alabama

I drive by this house in Tuscumbia, Alabama, practically every day — and admire it. The other day Younger Daughter was with me and as we passed it and I said how cute it was, YD said, “Why don’t you get out and take photos of it for your blog?” Since I’m not a fulltime newspaper reporter anymore I’ve sort of hung up my snopping-around hat — not that I did much of it as a full-time journalist — but I figured I could just walk around the house on the sidewalk and snap a few shots. Luckily, I don’t think anybody was home. And I did not go up on the porch, no matter what the neighbors say. I just think it’s an adorable cottage that the folks who live here seem to love, too. Tuscumbia is full of houses like this. Just come on over, park your car and wander around. People probably will invite you in for some tea — and that’s a long tall glass of iced tea in our part of the world, you know.

Decatur, Alabama

Downtown Decatur, Alabama, is one of those wonderful historic neighborhoods that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. It sort of loses out against such publicity stars as Natchez, Mississippi, for instance. And I’m one of the worst offenders. For folks in northwest Alabama/northeast Mississippi, Decatur is “on the way” when driving east to Huntsville. Usually I’m on a schedule as I roll by the edge of downtown and I glance out the window and think, “That is so pretty. Sometime I really should come here and explore.” Because otherwise I’d miss gems such as this cottage tucked away on a quiet side street. Couldn’t you just open the gate and walk up the steps and go sit a spell on the porch? I really had to restrain myself to keep from trying out that rocking chair. There are two adjacent historic districts in downtown Decatur — Old Decatur and New Albany — where you can park your car and enjoy an afternoon of wandering through neighborhoods of cozy Craftsman cottages and stately Victorian homes. And with spring in glorious bloom right now, it’s the perfect time: Peaceful and quiet and breathtakingly lovely. There are plenty of spots nearby for shopping and eating, too, with no drive-thru lanes or mega-parking lots required. Not that there is anything wrong with drive-thru lanes and mega-parking lots. But sometimes a shady porch and the sweet smell of camellias is all you need. At http://www.decaturcvb.org/,  print out self-guided walking tours and get details on the upcoming Mayfest.

Spring Gardens

Spring gardensThere is nothing like a gorgeous spring day in Spring landscapingAlabama, especially if you can enjoy it in a backyard such as this one. My friend Evelyn and her husband love digging in the dirt — and it shows. They created this backyard paradise from scratch, and it’s the perfect spot for some peaceful reading and bird-watching — two of Evelyn’s favorite pastimes. (She is one of the few people I know who gets excited about seeing things such as a broad-billed hummingbird, which is why I love her so much.) There’s also a lovely screened-in porch perfect for relaxing. In fact, I think I need to go over to Evelyn’s house right now for a dose of stress-free garden serenity. Y’all come, too!

A Week of Spring — Azaleas

AzaleasAzaleasWelcome to day No. 5 in A Week of Spring. Here in Alabama, spring means gardening and yard work and those first wonderful blooms. I am not a gardener — the best I can do is just sort of maintain, although I am a fierce and thorough weeder (even though I spy a few I missed in these photos, drat it). However, even the non-green thumbs like me can appreciate the beauty of April’s rebirth and renewal. These azaleas are in a corner of ourback yard where nobody can see them, of course, but the lush front-yard pink extravaganza shouldn’t be too far behind. Dogwoods are blooming, irises are up and even our winter-battered hydrangeas have optimistic buds, although freezing temperatures predicted for the first of next week might wreak more havoc. I even am sort of inspired to go to the garden store and pick out some more flowers — or I could just sit back and admire what I’ve already got. Hmm … Check back tomorrow for more in A Week of Spring.