Tiny leaves emerging on one of my older clematis.
Most years the earliest leaf and flower buds are blighted by frost.
The nameless [as in I can't remember it] weed which spreads in dense evergreen mats is flourishing, threatening to choke the clematis and foxgloves in this flower strip.
Finally! Blue skies and sunshine.
I note the weather of the day in the blocks on my desk calendar, usually adding the morning and evening temperatures. February, 2022, is thus recorded as cold with blustery winds, sleet, hard rains. Strangely, though there were sunny days the overall retrospective of the month is one of darkness and unpleasant weather.
Scuttling out to the household dump with a container of peelings, eggshells, leftovers, I shivered, noted the scrim of snow lodged on bare tree branches or edging the grass closest to the wall on the north side of the barn. Walking to the mailbox at the head of the lane I bundled myself in layers of clothing, a hoodie or scarf drawn snugly about my head.
The cats who have outdoor privileges clamor to be let out, pad about in the cold, fur ruffled by the wind. They ask to come back in, shake themselves, lick chilled damp paws and then return to hover at the front door, imploring it to open on more favorable weather. They resign themselves to staying in, lethargic and cantankerous by turns, designations which may fit their human keepers as well.
Jim has tinkered in his shop, waiting on tractor parts to be delivered. He comes in to make a hot drink or a snack. Meal times have lacked a firm pattern. We made thick sandwiches, piling wodges of rolls or home-made bread with thin-sliced pastrami, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese.
Feeling sluggish from lack of time outdoors, I read myself squint-eyed;
Maisie Dobbs series of mysteries re-read in anticipation of the new one to be released at the end of March; also a new book documenting the re-investigation of the infamous betrayal of Anne Frank and her family in occupied Holland during WWII. My immersion in that story coincided with the thoughtlessly inane remarks of Whoopi Goldberg re the persecution of Jews.
A sense of marking time rather than one of accomplishments.
A friend in Illinois posts photos of her amaryllis--large pots crammed with vibrant blooms. Our friend [former renter at the Amish farm] summered amaryllis bulbs in the compost-enriched soil of his garden, lifting them in autumn, potting them up and bringing them into brighter light one at a time to bloom.
Each fall I faithfully follow what seems to be the same procedure with my collection of bulbs producing only lanky straps of foliage.
Yesterday, watering all the plants in the sunroom I noticed that one bulb--the largest, on the far left of the tub, might be pushing up a flower stalk! If so, why? And why not the others?
Every spring I purchase at least one geranium; they look so brilliant and cheerful standing in their close ranks on the benches of my favorite nursery. By mid-summer on the porch they inevitably become straggly. This fall, pressed for space in the sunroom, I decided not to save the geranium, but at the last moment cut a 'slip' to root in the vintage blue glass bottle on the kitchen windowsill.
Several weeks ago I moved the potted plant from behind a forest of large rosemarys and put it on the windowsill. Although the new plant is leggy there is nothing better than red flowers for brightening gloomy weather.
Our internet connection has been feeble for nearly two weeks, sometimes blipping off and on repeatedly. More recently it is mostly 'on' but so slow to respond that often it 'times out' when trying to reach a website.
On Sunday night I waited while 3 photos took 45 minutes to upload for this blog post. Repeated attempts to transfer them to the blog page failed.
Today, in two different sessions I have managed to load one photo at a time, each taking 12-15 minutes to upload.
I should, of course, report a problem to Windstream.
There is no local service number. Past experience has proved that one waits on the line [with dreadful scratchy music blasting away] for anywhere from a half to three quarters of an hour before the call is answered by an operator whose native tongue is definitely not English.
I have balked at placing the call, hoping that the local dispatchers are aware of problems and they will be resolved without my intervention. Could it be that the recent torrents of wind and rain have disrupted service?
With the blessing of several sunny and warmer days I have been able to work outdoors--and am feeling more alert. Grubbing about yesterday afternoon along the west wall garden I discovered numerous plants of ground hugging 'pinks' had taken root below the wall. I shear the plants back in mid-summer after seed heads have formed and apparently some of the tiny black seeds fell onto the hard-packed soil along the wall, took root and quietly flourished during the mild weeks of November and December.
I raised the original plants from seed the first season we were here and had enough seedlings to set in part way along the wall. The second spring I raised another variety to plant along the remaining length of the wall. I didn't like these as well; The flowers were red orange while the originals could be described as magenta. I wasn't totally displeased when the second batch didn't over-winter.
I pried the newly discovered plants from the cold damp soil, removed my gloves to tease out sprigs of grass and weeds, then tucked them into the empty spaces along the retaining wall.
There are the usual small self-sown seedlings of foxgloves at the edge of the wall; As the weather warms I will pot these up in the greenhouse and grow them on.
Prodding about below the wall I noticed several plants which I'm hoping may be well-grown foxglove rosettes. It would make sense, as the spires of the gone-to-seed foxgloves lean over the edge of the wall.
The light was going and it was chilly when I noticed them late this afternoon.
I finished outside by digging up several violas which had seeded into the mat of tough grass and creeping weeds which we call a 'lawn.' I freed the roots of heavy wet soil, tweaked out bits of grass and settled them into a wide shallow pot of their kindred.
Daylight fading into a brilliant sunset, my hands cold, I trimmed dead stems from potted catnip, inspiring Nellie-cat to a rapture of wallowing.
I hoisted Nellie under one arm and clutching a few sprigs of catnip in muddy fingers, we came in.
I shoved a twiggy bundle of dried thyme and lemon balm stems into the languishing wood fire.
They blazed up when Jim stoked the fire for the evening, creating a pungent wisp of scent that links me in imagination to the generations of gardeners through the ages who have tended their treasured plants.