The catkins are in bloom

April 7, 2012

Maple flowers.

The catkins are in bloom on the old cottonwoods on my street, the slender blossoms dripping like caramel candies from the tips of the branches. All across town, trees are in bloom, the maples, the elms, the birches. The lindens will come later, perfuming the air with their haunting scent. It’s odd to see such an outburst of tree flowers so early in the year and all at once. We are probably only days away from an explosion of green, tender and pale at first, then strengthening as the leaves expand and the canopy fills in.

I love this time of year. I always did.  When I was a girl of thirteen, living in British Columbia, I remember a spring coming down from the mountains where we lived in a ghost mining town and into the valley of the Salmon River when my eye was caught by a grove a deciduous trees on the riverbanks. They were in that fairyland state of pale green; the leaves had probably just opened overnight. They danced in the early morning sun, etching a vivid picture in my mind that has never faded.

The image in my mind this morning is of the small area of garden I cleared of debris last night, delighting in the somnolent movements of the awakened ladybugs and the fat sowbugs, both resentful that I had disturbed their sleeping quarters. But it was 19 degrees C  Friday and the chives are struggling to come through the debris along with the tulips, which often pierce dead leaves in their eagerness to see the sun and end up looking silly all spring.

This will be my day today – my own day, when I can get my fill of the earth and the sky and all the life outdoors after a housebound winter. There is nothing like the intimacy of being in touch with the earth and becoming part of that secret world that we thoughtlessly tread every day.

The sun is rising and I must go out and greet it.


Now the sun is up and pierced by it brilliant light, the caramel catkins have turned to red with little hints of green. The blue spruces of our street are turning blue once again as the sun steps up their chlorophyll production. It’s lovely to watch them come awake; their branches spring to life, lifting up from their downward winter posture to greet the sun.



Ah, spring. Yesterday was cold and bleak with a wicked wind and while the sun came out today, it lost its battle to the wind once again. Still, it is Easter and we spent the noon hours with our Winnipeg children.  Lori made a lovely brunch with Graeme’s help. Holly and her dear one came by and so did Andrea, our almost third child who lived across the street from Lori and the kids all her life. Lori’s Joe was there too.

The garden is waiting patiently for more grooming, but the wind was stronger than my will today. I long to go out and dig, but it’s warm in here and shouldn’t one rest on Easter? Last year, I spent the day in the garden and committed an awful crime. While I was loosening the soil, I came across some lint and fluff, which I ignored, energetically spearing the earth. I was horrified to hear agonized squeaks and squawks. I threw down my fork and ran screaming for Glenn, who came out calmly and examined what I had come across – a nest of tiny, hairless rabbits, fingerlings really. What a thing to do on Easter Sunday!

We covered them back up and hoped for the best. Apparently, that is the correct action to take, but who would have suspected a nest in two inches of soil in the middle of the garden?

This year all I encountered was a big fat yellow present left by the neighbour’s cat. Serves me right!

Sunshine and fog

February 4, 2012

All is sunshine this morning. It glistens through the thick hoar frost on the Amur maple grove next door and picks diamonds out of the soft white snow.  Glenn, who has been through a difficult surgery this week, is on the mend in the hospital and our daughters are both here with us. The girls and I will spend the day with Glenn and then go out for “dinner” this evening, but more to talk and laugh than eat. We revel in the aura of happiness that surrounds our family when we are together.

This has been a week of fog and mist. It swirled around the streets, collecting under lampposts and coating the trees. It obscured the road ahead and shrouded the world in mystery. It hid the ugliness of melting snow and sand, even in the cruelest part of town. I was thankful for its comforting blanket which muffled threat and unkindness.








The weather is strange. We had four straight days of that fog, but the day before the fog moved in, we were visited by sun dogs, which put on a brilliant display on either side of the sun. Maybe the unusual weather has something to do with recent solar activity, although most scientists say that solar storms have a greater effect on communications and technology than on weather.

Nevertheless, NASA predicts that 2012 will be the year of massive sun storms, part of an 11-year cycle, ramping up steadily until next year. Last Sunday, January 29, was one of those nights, when there was a solar flare that hurled billions of tons of plasma toward earth, the strongest such flare since May 2005.

The projected activity on the sun will magnify the chances of seeing the aurora borealis here in Winnipeg this February and March. We often see the lights, sometimes in summer. They illuminate the sky with swirly white rays, that fill the viewer with wonder. It’s just another bonus of living in a northern clime.