A week ago today I was home from a brief trip to New York. It was a trip I needed. I tend to discount how important it is to get away sometimes, thinking, erroneously, that since I am retired and live alone I have no need to get away. Even without paid work though, it can be important to uproot settled thoughts and routine, to step away from schedules and demands. Sometimes it is good, even, to take a break from oneself, from the normalcy and creeping fustiness of one's own routines.
I've been thinking, over the last week, how much a short trip cleared my thoughts, thinking how dull and clouded my countenance had become. I've been thinking how a simple change, a simple break from routine, can allow my inner lark to soar once again.
New York is different than it was. No, that is not true, but my perceptions have changed, now that I no longer live along the fringes of the New York Metropolitan Area. Granted I lived on the outer fringes, but there were so many things I simply took for granted out of constant exposure, My perceptions are different now, and this is not entirely bad, although it is not entirely good either.
As I was riding to Newark Airport I was struck by how sad and lonely the trees looked: bound, shackled, imprisoned. Yes, it was winter and everything was gray. But we are still skirting the fringes of winter here, but the grayness of the countryside is different than the grayness of industrial New Jersey. Industrial New Jersey has never, in my experience, been attractive, but this time the bleakness struck more deeply and I was troubled. I was troubled by how much we destroy and maim and constrict in the name of progress, a progress that is shallow and ultimately rather meaningless. As I looked at the lonely trees along the road to Newark, I thought also of the lonely trees on the upper east side of New York, much more well tended, cared for, but still isolated in boxes, solitary tokens of our admiration for the earth.
It was good to be home. It has rained. It has rained a lot and the ground was saturated, squishy underfoot, and the earth smelled soft and warm and full of life. Bulbs are beginning to sprout, lifting their leaves toward the sun, and as I sank my hands in the dirt, returning a few very small, shallow bulbs that had probably been lifted in the repetitious cycles of freeze and thaw, I loved the feel of life, of home, against my skin.
Nothing much is blooming in my neighborhood yet, but my neighbor's daffodils are in bud and will open soon. I look at them and wonder why I didn't plant any early daffodils, only late varieties, the ones that are my favorites. But I miss those early yellows. I must make a note for next year. I hear that the daffodils are up in other parts of town, areas below the freeway, closer to the river, where they are probably a half zone warmer and a week ahead of me. That doesn't surprise me. In Dutchess County NY, where I lived before, we were a half-zone warmer along the river than those who lived a mere 5 miles inland, and my in own front yard, protected on three sides from the ravages of wind, I successfully kept plants that were hardy only in climes a full zone south of my own.
Slowly blooms appear. Despite intermittent bursts of cold, spring will come. Every bulb planted is a question. Every bulb that becomes a flower is a promise fulfilled. I love the anticipation, the thrill of seeing new growth. Kathryn Hodgkin arrived in the middle week. There are only two so far, but I hope for more. She is tiny and easily missed if one is not looking. This makes her all the more precious in my eyes. Hopefully she is but the forerunner of a small colony of iris histroides, a tiny, early promise of spring to come.