Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Rites of Spring

 We knew it had to happen
Being a careful sort of gardener,
I won’t risk calling these days ‘spring days’,
but the lenten roses tell me that winter must be over.

Cutting back to the ground the previous year’s leaves reveals the flowers.
They come in many varieties;
my favourites are the pure white and deep purple ones.

I’m debating whether I should be good and lay off the chocolates for lent. Today is Ash Wednesday, the day when every child at school went to the morning’s service to receive a smudge across her forehead - yes, it was a Catholic girls’ school - and promised to be good for lent.

Is this a Fast, to keep the Larder lean and clean
from fat of veals and sheep?

Is it to quit the dish of flesh, yet still to fill
the platter high with fish?

No, ’tis a Fast to dole thy sheaf of wheat and meat
unto the hungry soul

It is to fast from strife, from old debate and hate
to circumcise thy life.

So said Herrick’s Noble Numbers in 1647

I suppose it is a lot easier to be good in spring
when all nature reawakens.
It’s the lack of light which forces me to eat lots of chocolate in winter.

 When I bent down 
I could see and hear a whole swarm of bees in the crocuses.
Where did they all come from so suddenly?

Millie is getting impatient, she’d already
run ahead down the drive but came back
to see what had happened to me.

“Come on, mum.
Are you going to waste this whole gorgeous morning on taking silly flower pictures
or are you taking me for a walk?
And as for taking pictures of laundry blowing in the wind,
you must be as mad as a
Mad March Hare."

“No, Millie, just happy.”
(It’s the first time this year I’ve hung laundry out to dry.
There’s nothing like it.)


  1. Mmmmh ... sooo lovely, Friko ... hello again from winter country ... smiles ... Love, cat.

  2. This reminds me of what is to come when the three feet of white stuff melts. I can't wait!

  3. Very beautiful Friko! Winter is not over here in KY! We have six inches of snow on the ground :)

  4. Ash Wednesday was always church, but abstaining not in our Lutheran home
    but I never liked sweets anyway.....
    I can't believe you have hints of spring...we have more snow
    lovely flowers and laundry......

  5. You are right Friko, the smell sunshine in dry washing is intoxicating and oh so good for the soul.

  6. I'm so happy to see your spring blooms. I know I can depend on your garden long before there is even hint of a green shoot in mine. I remember air dried sheets from my childhood. You're right - nothing like that fresh smell.

  7. Indeed, there is nothing like fresh sheets that have been dried in the spring sun! The flowers look very far ahead for early March, but it's the same here; everything is on average two weeks ahead. Makes up for the terribly long, cold winter we had last year.

  8. I love hellebores and being able to hang the washing outside - it's not all bad is it!

  9. Lenten roses - I call them Hellebores are a favourite of mine. I love the pure white and have a lovely pink edged one too.
    We of course are seeing signs of Autumn down here in the Southern hemisphere.

  10. Lucky you. I loved having a washing line, and I am sure you have a lovely breeze. Helebore here have been under snow for some time. I hope to see them this week. Have fun in the sun!!

  11. Ah, so that's why I had such a hankering for chocolates today . . . (really, any excuse will do). I was just talking this morning with a friend about how desperate we all are here for the snow to melt and to see the first signs of spring. A while off yet, so it's nice to get this "spring preview" from you.

  12. good god, lenten roses?

    around here we like snowdrops at easter.

    ...if eater comes late. yesterday it was -16 fahrenheit here. tonight it is going to be -30. tomorrow it will be warm and pleasant (18 degrees) for skiing.

    woo! snow!

  13. haha...nice...take me for a walk...leave the laundry alone...
    air dried laundry smells so good though...
    i dont know what i will give up for lent...hmmm...
    havent thought much about it this year...

  14. Everything looks so lovely and warm. If I were to hang laundry out anytime in the next few weeks, it would freeze solid in just a few minutes. It's still SO cold around here. I'll breath spring air vicariously through your beautiful photos.

  15. Some people around here have their Lenten lights up (Christmas lights they never took down). I'd like to work in my yard, but it's much too wet. The water would be over my ankles in the backyard because we've had so much rain.


  16. A late hard freeze wiped out my iris and bletilla which were coming into bloom and an early azalea. Still other lovelies to come though.

  17. Quite envious here where yet more snow has fallen. Love seeing your garden awakening.

  18. Friko, it looks to me as if your laundry is dancing in the much more healthy and fun than being tumbled around in a gas-fueled basement drier machine.

    Your hellebores look very jaunty...and I applaud your getting near the ground for those close up photographs. Great pictures that really send a springtime message.

    Our temps rose above freezing today. More reason to rejoice! (I have now almost completed day one without chocolate. That is not exactly a reason to rejoice. I think contemplation is more in order.)


  19. I remember when I learned about Lent, and was very glad the United Church of Canada didn't demand we give up anything, although I'm sure giving up chocolate would have been an excellent sign of devotion. We were raised more along the lines of Herrick's verse...helping others, doing good works. Good behaviour might have been mentioned, although I don't remember it except at home.
    I enjoyed imagining Millie coming back to get you for her walk. Lindy doesn't get walked without a leash, because there is so much temptation...when she used to see deer, she would want to run with them. She was interested in cats and rabbits and other dogs, too. Now that she can barely see, she has to be content with people stopping to pet her and tell her how pretty she is.
    I love the photos of your flowers. We still have a lot of snow, and we're driving to Calgary tomorrow (about 3 hours away).
    I hope you are well.
    Luv, K

  20. Ah, spring is in the air when the crocuses bloom and the laundry is on the line! Lovely! :-)

  21. There's nothing like the smell of air-dried laundry. This week, I think I would be able to simply spray some laundry detergent on the fabric and hang it outdoors. There's so much rain falling and wind blowing that the clothes would be washed and rinsed in no time.
    The dark purple Lenten rose is gorgeous. Hooray for spring.

  22. Hello:

    Seek out the completely black, or as near as it is possible to obtain, hellebores. We used to have the most wonderful ones from both Elizabeth Strangman and Helen Ballard.

  23. Hi, Friko! I love the bedlinen dried outside as well, it smells wonderful. Your deep purple hellebores look vernal, glad you're in real spring now.
    We have no snow and my garden is half-green because of the last year grass. Have a nice week!

  24. My laundry has not gone outside yet but there are certainly signs of spring popping up around the garden. I just hope we have a few dry days so I can cut the grass!! Have a good day.

  25. Isn't it marvellous, this little stream of sunshine!
    There's more to come :-)

  26. Love your pics. of flowers, esp. the last one showing "flowers" hanging on the line.

  27. I've never understood why North Americans here insist on drying their clothes artificially when you can just hang them out in the sun and air.

  28. I can hardly wait to hang bed linens outside.
    Maybe next week
    and I might see a flower:)
    Hope so...

  29. Spring - glorious spring!

  30. Yes , Spring's in sight . In another day or two , the swathes of municipal crocii will open and then mercifully give way to daffodils ... just as formally planted but lighter-hearted somehow .You wouldn't like to act in an advisory capacity with our town's Park Department , would you ? I love helebores .

  31. I love those roses! I hope winter is really gone for both of us! One year I gave up all candy except dark chocolate, because at the time I didn't really care for it. Now I love it...but I'm not giving it up for Lent. :)

  32. I delighted in this post! Dear Millie-

    It takes great wit and interest and energy to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is a great activity. One must be open and alive. It is the greatest feat man has to accomplish.
    Robert Herrick

    ALOHA from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral

    =^..^= <3

  33. oh this is a super duper post--you've included everything that could ever make me happy, the scent and feel of fresh included. no ground here yet--god knows when and how all this snow will melt. But i am salivating seeing what you see. i can hardly wait!

    no lent for me: my catholic days are over…

    enjoy happy, friko xo


  34. I just love your laundry. Oh, to be able to do that here -- alas, I would have hard, cold sheets that would be wet again, once the ice melted. Yes, while we traveled we went to Niagara Falls -- the day after we left, it froze over. So, seeing your lovelies both causes pangs of envy and great hope that there will indeed be a spring -- someday!

  35. Beautiful pictures, dear Friko! Crocuses always put a smile on my face. :)
    Glad spring is there at last and you are right, happy days help you to stay more focused and positive.

  36. Spring at last! I love the Lenten roses, I've never seen the dark purple one before.

  37. From the looks of your flower picture, you and my Tanya would get along just fine. She lives for her flower garden.

  38. Ah, happy spring to you! We still have about 6 inches of snow here in Wisconsin but it's getting warmer, and the days are getting longer...there is hope. I love your pictures, even the laundry! I'm giving up wine for Lent, good luck wth whatever you decide. :o)

  39. My dear Friko, reading your post, looking at your photos, I am not so much green in the face with envy as ashen. I should have applied for a bit part in "Death Becomes Her". They wouldn't have needed to apply make-up.

    Spring is wonderful. The power of those little heads pushing through the earth, against all odds. And, of course, one of the great joys, the days getting longer. Leaving me currently slightly confused first few seconds on waking. Oh my god, have I overslept? Calm down dear - it's only ten past six. Bring on the Hallelujah Chorus.

    Give it a few more weeks and we'll be hunting Easter eggs.


  40. Oh, it's so wonderful to see Spring moving in, isn't it? I couldn't be happier about it.

  41. oh how lovely to see flowers and have clothes on the line..we are not there quite yet

  42. Hallo Friko,
    bei uns war heute auch ein super-Sonnen-Wetter. Soll die nächsten Tage auch so weitergehen. Die Natur dreht da so richtig auf.

    Gruß Dieter

  43. Ah! Love the sight of laundry on the line! Welcome (almost) Spring!

  44. I agree there's nothing like laundry from the line. We are no where near spring over her but daughter in Bromley was in the garden grilling.

  45. Love the smell of air and sun dried laundry. But haven't had a line in years. Maybe you've given me an idea...

  46. I am envious of the joy you will also feel when you gather in those sheets from the line and place them on your bed. The smells of spring and sights of spring do bring such joy to our hearts. Keep on sharing those photos. Millie will just have to get used to it.

  47. I'm still a long way from being able to hand laundry on the line ... still a lot of snow. You're right ... it's the best.

  48. Looks like not only Millie but also her owner showed restlessness by their different action for the early arrival of spring. Regarding the laundry, I hung them up in the cold, dry, sunny air in winter and now hesitate to do so because of yellow sand from the Mongolian desert mixed with PM 2.5 and toxic substance from industrial China during the springtime. My Christmas roses are also in full bloom: they look discreet always blooming with face down. I had a break from blogging since the heavy snowfall and I feel like that I’ve awoken from hibernation. Wish you that weather will be on your side and no more chocolate.


  49. Yes, it's spring when we can hang the washing out in sunshine and see the flowers. I bet you enjoyed your walk with Millie after that.

  50. I'm ornery enough that I refuse to ever consider giving something up because someone announced it's time. Rather, if I want to give something up, I just do.

    Your gardens are giving me hope and anticipation for my life in about three months!

  51. Oh, I can feel your relief and joy Friko. I love to see washing blowing on the line, and those roses are exquisite - quite new to me. The crocuses are so lively. We are not cold enough in Auckland to grow them. Spring is definitely with you.

  52. Hi Friko - lovely laundry on a washing line, or twirly thing .. and doesn't it smell so much better - fresh and aired.

    And life is so much easier when we're not swamped with rain, or frozen into our homes ... the hellebores are just beautiful .. well thank you Millie for waiting while some wonderful shots were snapped ... great photos and the bees are around .. I just hope they're the right sort, but they're out working and that's the important bit.

    Spring is certainly here .. and it makes so much difference ... cheers Hilary


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