Winter Flowers


The morning unfolds as intently as the seven shocked paperwhites on the kitchen windowsill. These eager bulbs arrived in the mail just days ago as a jumble of almost onions in a bed of empty skins, each with a single greedy green talon already demanding light.

Now, they grow in reverse, diving into the sunny glass, the summery water, to establish tethers. Tomorrow, the unfolding will gain altitude, structure.

Days later, as winter will flower on the morning lawn in frost that crunches under the kitten’s paw, and the kitchen will don the vestments of spring; These resolute tubers will overnight transform from fledgling shoots to a constellation of snowy florets.

And, their irrefutable perfume will force us to another season.

“I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs.” -Joseph Addison


As I type this afternoon, my lower back reminds me of the food and flowers I installed in the yard yesterday, taking advantage of the break in the rain to rearrange some of the dirt in the side yard and back yard, to add some color to the atmosphere, and to signal to the birds that they, most of them, are welcome.

(How do I let the woodpecker who weekly hammers into our shingles know he has worn out his welcome and is uninvited to the feast?)

On the side yard, I have: strawberries, tomatoes, cilantro, chili and bell peppers, two types of cucumbers, leeks, mint, basil, and four marigolds to ward off snails.

The soil is teeming with worms and is moist for feet. It is ready to grow.

The back yard contains: blackberries, grapes, and blueberries. It has lavender, rosemary, thyme, chives, rock roses, roses, daisies, and ranunculuses.

The evening air, last night, was filled with the heavy scent of roses, a muddle of basil, lavender, and mint, and the musky undertone of upturned earth, the eau de cologne of spring.