Parsley and Memories

My first experience with herbs was in the backyard of the farmhouse where I lived as as a young child. Parsley was the only herb my foster grandmother grew, but it made a great impression upon me.

I remember picking the pungent stems, just the way she showed me, chewing a few of the curly little leaves while I worked. The taste was pungent, savory, peppery, the flavor of spring, of tradition. My grandmother told me stories as we harvested, of life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when she was young.

She was nearly ninety, when I was born so the tales she told of tradition, of gardening, and just plain living, were nearly forgotten by most, even then.

Some years I’ve cultivated nearly a dozen varieties of herbal plants. This spring, I lacked time and energy for so many, but I couldn’t resist starting a couple pots of parsley, in memory of Grandma Lee.

Parsley loves cool weather. It’s sometimes healthy and full at Thanksgiving, ready for use in holiday turkey dressing. I’ve never planted it in late summer, but perhaps that’s a possibility.

Queen Anne’s Lace Adorns a Ragged Grass Clump at a Wal-Mart Parking Lot

Inspiration often arrives in non-conventional ways. Stepping from my car, donning mask and gloves to shop in the new normal, I found the sight of this Queen Anne’s Lace plant oddly cheering.

It’s a survivor, amid a clump of straggly grass, its bloom one of the most perfect I’ve seen from this type of wildflower. A species I love, no matter how common.

View from the Gas Pump – Storm Clouds Retreat Following a Late Afternoon Weather Event

Glancing up from the gas pump, I was intrigued by the sight of these retreating storm clouds, artistically arranged, just for my enjoyment, or so it seemed.

Always a weather buff, I used to be quite fond of storms, though sometimes today, they scare me. At different life stages, the same prompts trigger varying emotions, depending, I suppose upon how vulnerable we are feeling.

If they aren’t damaging, I’ve always thought thunderstorms quite fascinating.

Robins On the Lawn Trigger Memories of Secure Times

Watching robins hop across the lawn seems mundane to some, but for me it conjures the peace I experienced when I was a child, with nothing more pressing to do than study the details of nature playing out in the front yard.

Wherever I am, when I see the robins, a timeless species which doesn’t unnecessarily change its habits, in my mind I observe them from the window of a home that hasn’t been mine for some time.

My parents are there, my pets from that era. Cares were few back then, except for the responsibilities I invented so I would have something to attend to over summer vacation.

Some days life seems exceedingly difficult. But moments with the robins refresh my spirit. I take a deep breath of the summer scented air, and go on living, with a bit more optimism

Alliums Dazzled My Neglected Flowerbeds this Spring

I’m a bit behind in loading photos sometimes. And I must admit I’m trying to put less pressure on myself. We all need to disconnect, immerse ourselves in nature, think about nothing . . . after following the news so closely this tragic spring.

Allium(s)? are one of my favorite spring flowers, but like iris, they just don’t last long enough.

They look so lovely and star-like in a mechanical sort of manner. Word to describe them accurately, obviously fail me today.

My brain needs a bit more rest.

Our most creative brainstorms come when we’ve cleared our minds.

Queen Anne’s Lace Triggers Memories

O’Brignal banks are wild and fair,

And Greta woods are green,

And you may gather garlands there

Would grace a summer queen.

-Rokeby, Sir Walter Scott, 1771-1822

Ah, for the days when poets composed sonnets to weeds.

I’ve always loved Queen Anne’s Lace, though in America farmers and gardeners seem to discount its beauty and consider it a pest.

But it’s much less invasive and dangerous than some later arrivals, like knotweed, poison hemlock (and garlic mustard, though I must profess my love for it too, in spite of the fact that it may be taking over forest borders from more demure wildflowers like trillium, spring beauty, bloodroot).

My mother told me the name of Queen Anne’s Lace way back when I was a child. She said it was a weed, but I sensed a part of her appreciated it like I did. I still imagine bridal bouquets whenever I see fields sprinkled or frosted with clusters of the frilly blossoms.

The Complete Language of Flowers by Sheila Pickles tells us that the name references Queen Anne’s love of lacy head-dresses. The tiny purple floret at the center of each bloom is said to represent blood from Queen Anne’s finger when she pricked it while making lace.

Side Door into a Lovely Country Church

Here’s another picture from my spring morning churchyard stroll,which I posted about earlier. There’s something simply charming about the plain white door, neat sidewalk, plush bed of vinca minor,otherwise known as “periwinkle” or “myrtle” ground cover.

It was a perfect morning, very calming. I sat beside the vinca Bed for some time, contemplating these crazy times. The solitude, except for the melodic songs of birds, gave me hope and inspiration.

Buttercups Bring Memories of Earlier Days

Buttercups are symbols of childishness and ingratitude according to The Complete Language of Flowers by Sheila Pickles.

I don’t get the ingratitude part, but they do remind me of being a child, of finding true delight, amazement, boundless energy to explore woods and fields when spring pulls back the curtain of winter clouds, revealing a world of green and gold, the color of buttercups.

I remember when I first discovered these flowers, when I was about ten, hiding in a low spot in the field behind our house. I visited them there each spring, then one year transplanted some to the northwest corner of our house, where they grew reliably for years.

I also recall a kid’s book I probably still have in the depths of a closet, I think the title was Around and About Buttercup Farm.

It is said that buttercup juice blisters the skin but that it’s also been used as a remedy to cure gout and rheumatism, and, as a tincuture, to cure shingles and sciatica. (Don’t try any of those cures at home, or anywhere.)

This verse by Thomas Campbell (1774-1844) takes me back to childhood springs:

Field Flowers

By Thomas Campbell

 Ye field flowers! The gardens eclipse you, ‘tis true:

Yet, wildlings of nature! I dote upon you,

For ye waft me to summers of old,

When the earth teemed around me with fairy delight,

And when daisies and buttercups gladdened my sight

Like treasure of silver and gold.

 

 

 

 

Our Local Taco Bell – Framed by Spring-Flowering Trees – a Symbol of Responsible COVID-19 Practices

Our local Taco Bell, open for takeout during the coronavirus crisis, was one of the first restaurants to implement sound sanitation practices.

Wearing of masks and gloves, passing bags of food to the car on a tray, even holding the credit card processing machine out the window for no-touch pay; all of these thoughtful practices are much appreciated.

I’m very thankful fast food restaurants have sustained us, but I do hope sit down restaurants and small local enterprises can survive the crisis and the new normal that will follow for the foreseeable future.

The virus has not only taken the lives of many of our elders, middle aged, even some younger citizens. It has infected our business community lethally.

We must reopen commerce before all of our enterprises run out of sustaining funds, but that reopening must come with strict precautions. This seems to be something many, sadly, do not understand.

Reopening doesn’t mean business as usual.

Masks must be worn by proprietors and customers; not only as a protection for oneself, but as a courtesy to others.

Social distancing rules and limited number or patrons inside a business at once, must be observed.

We only have one chance to get this right; to avoid another completely catastrophic close-down, or face an even greater tidal wave of suffering and death. 

 

 

 

 

Lilacs – Flowers of Love and Death

Lilacs are said to symbolize first emotions of love. But white lilacs have dual associations of youthful innocence and also death.

Supposedly a white lilac will refuse to bloom if another lilac in the garden is cut down. Some say it’s bad luck to bring a white lilac into the house.

I don’t know about those concepts, but to me lilacs symbolize the fairest time of year – early to mid-May, and Mother’s Day. I recall picking a bouquet many years during young adulthood, as a gift for my mother on that holiday.

Their sweet scent was a welcome perfume in the kitchen where the purple – and yes, we had white ones too— blooms ruled the dining table for days.

The lovely photo is from Sheila Pickles’ The Complete Language of Flowers.