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 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.

Geraniums – The Flower that Makes Us Think of Home

A clay pot filled with pretty, cheerful geraniums symbolizes home to many of us.

Geraniums seem American to me, but The Complete Language of Flowers by Sheila Pickles says they are found all over the world.

I always think of them as the most domestic of plants, their bright blooms that last all year cheering family and visitors from their spots on indoor tables and windowsills, in pots on doorsteps, or nestled in flowerbeds.

Sheila Pickles associates them with the Mediterranean “where they tumble out of terracotta pots and down painted stone walls, the very color of them creating a festive mood.”

Most people purchase fresh geranium plants each spring, but I have saved the roots over winter, hung them upside down in a cool place, and replanted them the following spring. I’ve also over-wintered them as houseplants, back when I had the space.

New plants can be started from cuttings too, if one has time to do so.

They’re generally carefree and easy to grow, and reward us well with their mood lifting color, whether we select traditional scarlet red, or the myriad pinks and whites available in today’s garden centers.

Periwinkle, Myrtle, Vinca Minor – Names for a Sweet, Charming, Little Purple Flower

Periwinkle

Lines written in Early Spring

by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

 

Through primrose tufts in that green bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths’

And ‘tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes

 

What a charming little poem about periwinkle, myrtle, vinca, whatever one calls the trailing vine with the simple, pretty bluish purple blossoms.

My mom referred to it as myrtle, the catalogs seem to call it vinca, though it differs from another non-trailing vinca now popular in garden centers.

The Complete Language of Flowers by Sheila Pickles mentions many former medicinal uses, and says it is one of the oldest of flowers.

The poem mentions of its trailing between primrose plants, and I always planted it in flowerbeds, to accent taller plants and keep down weeds.

 

 

Joseph Auslander’s Delightfully Simple Comment About Spring

Years ago I framed a copy of a Vermont Life Magazine, printed back when it was a full size publication. It’s since hung on my bedroom wall, the featured words and picture offering encouragement throughout the seasons whenever I glance at it while preparing for an evening’s rest.

The back cover of the magazine, the side that I see, depicts a lovely red farmhouse surrounded by flowering crab apple trees.

The quote below the picture reads:

Spring has come, like the silver needle note of a fife. . .

The simple, profound statement was composed by Joseph Auslander.

It’s difficult to explain why I’m so moved by such simple words and the photograph of a modest country house. The combination just seems so symbolic of New England’s values: tradition, nature, hope for the future. . .

It doesn’t matter if I stop and ponder upon the photo and the simple simile in the delicate spring season during which it was written, or on a dark, dreary evening in late autumn.

I always walk away with a sense of renewal.

 

Vintage GE TV in it’s Own Console

A friend who’s made his career the sales, care, and repair of television sets says this thrift shop find from a while back was likely manufactured in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

Didn’t check to see if it still works, but it’s a great piece of history.

They don’t make ’em like this these days. Quality and workmanship have gone by the wayside. Today’s TVs are barely as thick as a piece of paper. Not to my taste. To me TVs should always be furniture pieces.

Growing up, we displayed photos and plastic floral bouquets on the expansive top of the television. At Christmas Mom and I arranged a display of deer and other creatures within a forest, complete with cotton ball snow.

Sure, the TV’s energy attracted dust, but back then there was more time. It was rather rewarding to move each individual display piece, and swipe a damp cloth across it.

(The shows were better back then too. Except for a few selections, screenplay craftsmanship has gone down the tube over the past few decades.)

Easter Snows and Glowing Sunsets – Typical Springtime Contrasts

Traveling home last evening, and then again this morning (I’m composing this post on Good Friday) I encountered several snow squalls, punctuated by sunny skies.

Here’s a photo of one of my favorites spots to observe sunsets. I love this huge old farmhouse. Each time I pass, images come to me, of brothers and sisters from a large family flitting about the upstairs bedrooms after a long day of labor on the farm during summer vacation, or following chores and homework on schooldays.

My mother always said an Easter snow was inevitable. I used to scoff when she said that, but the years have shown me, we do usually have at least a skiff of snow, somewhere within the week before or after Easter.

Hopefully today’s flurries will serve as this year’s official Easter encounter with the white stuff.

May Easter blessings surround us. . . 

And may those of us who are well remain healthy as our heroes in the medical research community work round the clock to find ways to help current COVID-19 patients and a  vaccine to prevent future outbreaks. 

 

 

A Great Day for a Forsythia Bouquet

But I don’t have a bush of my own so I’ll just enjoy the ones I see on the way to work and this lovely bouquet on the cover of The Vermont Country Store catalog.

L. L. Bean used to have beautiful seasonally appropriate catalog covers, but alas, they’ve let me down in recent years. The emporium from The Green Mountain State thankfully still adheres to tradition.

These graceful stems, loaded with bright yellow flowers are a lovely complement to the cobalt blue glassware. The arrangement is reminiscent of spring skies of azure and gold.

P.S. Oops, the photo showed the flowers properly centered in the frame. Don’t know why the software changed the angle. No time to fix at this moment, but will try when time is available!

Daffodil Days

Nearly the only spring bulb that isn’t eaten by rodents, daffodils are among the most reliable of flowers. Highly popular, the traditional large yellow ones dot lawns, fields, woods edges, brightening rainy April days.

I love all the varieties in the Brecks and other catalogs of bulbs, but alas, lack funds and stamina to order and plant them all.

Daff-a-down-dilly, daffodilly, lent-lily, are some of this flower’s traditional nicknames. They symbolize regard and chivalry, and naturalize well.

Many poets have written poems about them. Here’s a popular one:

Daffodil

by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

 I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

From The Complete Language of Flowers by Sheila Pickles

The Beautiful Tradition of Holiday Serving Dishes

I’ve always had a place in my heart for lovely floral serving bowls like this one on a shelf in my favorite shop.

My mother even served leftovers in the worn ones. The like new ones we saved for Sunday dinners, which were elaborate when my grandmother was alive.

I understand the youngest generation doesn’t have much appreciation for beautiful dinnerware, even as collector’s items. Pretty dishes are overlooked or placed outside as garden art.

Perhaps when they become more rare, they will return to favor.