Friday, March 21, 2008

Scratching the surface

I caught myself in the middle of a thought-sequence that struck me as pathological. I was walking up to Court Street, to the book store where I would order the next in my Aubrey/Maturin series, and I saw, suddenly, a forsythia in full bloom in a south-facing townhouse's garden. I was affronted. Even offended. I had not seen it in bud. I like buds. And I don't like forsythia (Betsy Smith's "spring barf"). But what struck me as unpleasant was something had happened without my noticing, without time to prepare. It's true I don't even walk up that particular street that often. I tend to have a route. So It was not on my radar. There it was in a blaze of bright yellow with no warning.

And I thought. Damn, it's almost all over.


It's inherited. I know my mother is the same.

She says that when she picks me at the airport in Cape Town something still grips her heart - she knows that picking me up means dropping me off again at the end of my annual 6-8 week summer sojourn. She knows even as she is driving to fetch me, with joy in her heart, what driving to see me off feels like. Hollow, horrible.

I also see the endings in beginnings.

And summer in New York is terrible.

I like buds. I like anticipation. I like looking forward. Perhaps it's because it's almost unbearable when it really hits. I didn't have a blog a year ago. Perhaps I'm anxious because I want to photograph every blossom, every special tree I know. Perhaps it's just pressure. The linden trees for example. What happens when they blow? It will be white froth for a week.

The flowering quince on Congress has just broken bud. They stayed closed, slowly swelling, for a month, some kind of record. It confirms my poor opinion of this colour. Salmon-rose. Not good. The flower-form is lovely, though, as is the fretwork of branches.

And the Cornus mas in Cobble Hill Park has opened its funny knots of yellow flowers. Not the acid yellow of forsythia: better. From a distance, the tree does not make an impression, but close up the flowers are interesting, and the tart fruit that follows would be worth its growing, I guess, if I had a woodland garden. But most people don't look at flowers close up, and most are afraid of fruit borne by trees they can actually touch.

Hm. Summer project. Cornelian cherry jelly. I think their fruit ripens later than the amelanchiers'...

New York organic, here we come.


  1. Hey - I'm confused. When I arrived last May spring was still in full swing - tulips, and the cherry blossoms in mid may. Incredible that your Spring starts so early in March, so you get a rolling display of nearly 3 months?
    Shit, but I know what you mean about summer there - it's the pits. My spirit kind of flopped every time it was hot and humid - felt like I was in an urban stew.
    Autumn is lovely here - cold crisp nights, warm days - my bulbs have woken up - need to unstack the pots and move them into the sun.

  2. Hmmm, thank you for pointing reality out to me. You're right. May is spring in full swing, and April hasn't even started yet! What we're seeing now is super-early spring. Daffodils have just started, and a cherry I need to identify.


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