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.

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.

 

In Which I Bring Two Entirely Unrelated Topics Into One Blog Post

You know how you open up the newspaper every morning (you do open up a newspaper every morning, don’t you???) and read it and then shake your head and complain, “There’s never any good news. Why don’t they print any good news?”  You know news people say that this happens because “good” news isn’t news since good things happen all the time and we’re only startled by “bad” news that’s outside of the norm. But we all know that “good” news can be as rare as … well, say, a coffee shop owner remembering that he overcharged a customer on her previous business and so without asking gives her her favorite drink for free on her next visit. That just happened! To me. And I wrote about it in my weekly newspaper column. Just, you know, to sneak a little good news in.

Spring’s arrival means several things: 1) Horror as we peel off our wool socks and take a look at our feet for the first time in months — emergency pedicure! 2) All basketball all the time as March Madness takes over — although my bracket is sinking so low that it’s fallen off the listing at the online bracket-game I play. And 3) we start inexplicably hungering for such treats as fresh tender asparagus and juicy sweet strawberries. In my weekly newspaper food story, I found out when spring arrives at local farmers’ markets and previewed what to look for — and when — although we’re lucky here in northwest Alabama since we’ve got Jack O’Lantern Farms, a hydroponic farm which grows lovely fresh veggies year-round. I’ll bet there’s someplace close to you where you can get a taste of spring soon.

Spring Flings

Oh so pretty! I am in love with Target‘s new blue-and-white spring things. Just walking through the store makes me think of sunny days and ditching the boots and wool jackets and planning Easter dinner and those wonderful spring breaks. These blue-and-white prints seem so fresh and clean — as if a warm spring breeze wafted through and banished winter. And, believe me, here in the South we definitely had winter this year. You know we got so used to snow that we sort of shrugged our shoulders whenever it was forecast yet again — and the frantic grocery-store runs dropped dramatically. But it’s time to forget winter. And, you know, looking at these prints makes me realize that we have no blue-and-white in our house. At all. We’ve got black-and-white. And soft greens. And splashes of orange and red. But no blues-and-whites. But I love these so much that I’m thinking “home re-do.” So excuse me while I go tell my husband  we’re going to redecorate. He’ll be so pleased.

Gardening versus Basketball, or Another Reason to Love Winter

Less than a week ago around here, schools were closed and cars were sliding off roads and we were all hunkered down for about the third or fourth time that ice and snow had come to the South this year. Today, however, when you step outside in the sunshine and the semi-warm breeze, I swear you can hear the flowers growing and the tree branches starting to bud. Or I would hear flowers growing if I actually had planted any in our yard. While Southerners love spring and its reinvigorating warmth and gentle unfurlings of fresh color, the season’s arrival exposes pathetic non-gardeners such as me who can hide their lack of green-thumb talent behind winter’s freezing temperatures. I’m perfectly content to spend January and February and even March curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace and watching basketball on TV. But once March Madness kicks in, the gardening guilt follows close behind: When everybody else is energetically outside, enthusiastically wielding seed packages, trowels and watering cans, it’s difficult to justify lounging around in your jammies. So, while I certainly don’t want anybody to get hurt and everybody is oh-so-tired of snow days and school closings, I wouldn’t mind a little more winter before spring arrives for good. I’m not ready to give up lazy weekend afternoons wrapped up in my cozy blankie and yelling at the TV screen, “What are you talking about? That was NOT a foul! Check your eyes, ref!”

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.