Looking to the New

“The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer.  Minute by minute they lengthen out.  It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change.  It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.” ~~ Vita Sackville-West

It has been — it is still being the strangest of winters.  We had virtually no rain through all of December and January.  We had several weeks of freezing weather, which is most unusual around here — we get scattered nights with below 32 degree temperatures but they are few and far between..  We soft-living Californians were like hot-house plants suddenly thrown out into the cruel cold.  These freezing weeks were immediately followed by two or three weeks of such balmy warmth that we walked around in shorts and flip-flips. While that might be somewhat normal for southern California, this is northern California — no sandals here in January! On top of that we are now officially in a drought — yet it is raining outside today — glorious rain! — the first real rain we’ve had this long winter.  Last weekend we even had snow in the hills around us!  Again, a pretty unusual happening — something that comes maybe once every four or five years. ….. A very strange winter!

Here in Ray’s garden, almost nothing is blooming — the paper-white narcissus and the old-fashioned purple iris are the only winter faithfuls doing their job right now.  And so, clean-up and planning for future additions is about all that’s going on here, but goodness knows, that’s plenty.

cutting corners

Here they are “cutting a corner” — actually repaving a spot that a delivery truck destroyed one day.  While the location is often mistaken for a home, this is a business, and very large trucks come through making deliveries.  After the third or fourth time this corner was flattened, Ray wisely decided to cut it back and give the trucks more space.

The major remodel however is happening in that back area where things get dumped that you don’t want seen — every garden has a space like this.  This one has been cleared out and has some lovely new paving in place.

mud path

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“Bare branches of each tree
on this chilly January morn
look so cold so forlorn.
Gray skies dip ever so low
left from yesterday’s dusting of snow.
Yet in the heart of each tree
waiting for each who wait to see
new life as warm sun and breeze will blow,
like magic, unlock springs sap to flow,
buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow.”
~~ Nelda Hartmann, January Morn  

The grapefruit tree once stood where the paving now lies, and the persimmon and pear trees are just around the corner.  The grapefruit, which was always in an awkward spot, has been moved to a back corner and we are all anxiously watching to see if it will survive.  The existing trees are now to be joined by a Mission Fig, an Italian Prune, and a Fuji Apple.  (That’s the heavily-pruned grapefruit under cover in the back corner.)

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Now we wait.  These are the waiting weeks.  Clean-up has been done.  Pruning is finished for the moment.  The beds have been cleared of excess growth.  Everything is clean and bare — and now we wait for what this very strange weather-year will bring us.  And we dream of bright blossoms and fresh new fruit.

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.” ~~  Andrew Wyeth  

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Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall …

I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain; What a wonderful feeling, I’m happy again.  ~~ Arthur Freed

Into each life some rain must fall (at least according to Longfellow) but around here that has been a VERY little rain, lately — but we did get a nice shower a few  days ago.  It washed the leaves and cleaned the air.

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rain

Rain has been a largely absent commodity this year.  We’ve just left behind one of the driest winters I remember in awhile.  I fear it is going to be blisteringly hot this summer — the seasonal creeks that usually have water in them at least until July are already almost dry. That’s why it was so nice to spend some time in the rain-sweet garden –just breathing in the clean,sweet air.

When it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow. ~~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

lilies in rain

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.   ~~ Langston Hughes

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This rose looked unearthly in the overcast light- an eerie beauty … and no, it’s not photo shopped.

rain rose

I don’t expect more rain for quite sometime, but — oh — it was a lovely gift while it lasted!

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After the Rain

“There’s naught as nice as th’ smell o’ good clean earth, except th’ smell o’ fresh growin’ things when th’ rain falls on ’em.”  ~~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

We had rain here last week.  Nothing like the rain the poor people back east have been through — no hurricanes, just a nice cleansing rain, washing off the accumulated dust of summer and early fall.  Right now everything smells like heaven must smell.  The colors are brighter and all the folks with allergies can breathe for a day or two.

There’s something about the look and feel of the world after an early autumn rain that seems less like the ending of things and more like the beginning.

“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”  ~~ Henry David Thoreau

And speaking of new beginnings, there’s a new bed in Ray’s Garden  – winter vegetables — garlic and cauliflower and kale.  They don’t look like much right now …

…but there’s that whole ‘promise of things to come’ look about them.  With our mild winters here, these little babies should have plenty of time to mature and provide good tastes and nourishment on the table.  And small as they are, they too looked beautiful after the rain.  Just take a minute to drink in the incredible range of colors here — green and blue and purple — all sparkling with the left-behind rain-drops.

Let the rain kiss you.  Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.  Let the rain sing you a lullaby.  ~Langston Hughes