Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sullen Easter

In those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth. - Milton

Allowing for some eccentricities of Roman Emperor Constantine, and as amended later by ecclesiastical rules imposed by Pope Gregory XIII, Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Easter must occur between March 22 and April 25. If Easter is confused, imagine how my garden feels. Our weather is warm one day, chilly the next.

Today is a chilly day: overcast and quiet. Sometimes, you can feel rain in the air. Not today. The rain, expected by me and my yard, has continued east and become snow, falling on the heads of people who have more right than I to be sullen in this vernal season.
The only constant here is the lack of rain. I planted warm-season seeds like beans and sunflowers too early. The eggplant didn’t even bother to poke their tiny heads above the thin layer pearlite covering the peat pots (to avoid damping-off). I replanted some tomato and eggplant seeds yesterday, and took cuttings of a few fuchsias. I organized my remaining seeds and reassured myself that it's still early. The warm sunny days make me impatient. The cool chilly ones do too. So, that's another constant: my impatience with nature.

On the other hand, pelargoniums don’t mind, nor do aeoniums. Nasturtiums seem to be blooming according to their own rules – operating more on the memory of rain than on any actual wetness. My re-blooming iris are sullen, the lilies stubborn, and even the sweet peas look bleak and forlorn – straggly stems and stingy flowers.

This April may not be exactly cruel – at least we’re not having a “White Easter” like some Midwestern and Northeastern states. But I think Milton would not be amused. Today, my yard seems to reflect Nature’s “injury and sullenness” toward me.

Earlier this week, we drove up to the mountains: Julian, California, famous for pies and lilacs – real lilacs in the Syringa family. Although less than an hour east, Julian is tucked into mountains several thousand feet higher than my desert valley. Sadly, real lilacs were not yet in flower. We were fooled by the signs in local flower shops “Lilacs are Here!”, which clearly referred to lilacs flown in from outside our area.

Here is a brave but fraudulent stand-in: the drought- tolerant “California lilac” that was in bloom. These Ceanothus can look like lilacs, and reportedly are fragrant, but they wouldn’t fool anyone familiar with the overly-sweet scent of lilacs my Mom used to grow.

We'll return to Julian in another week or two and buy bunches of real lilacs. The spring will return to my back yard too. All it takes is patience...

1 comment:

Kate said...

Spring seems to be in an odd mood this year everywhere. We had tons of snow this past winter which melted during one mild week in mid-March. Since then, it has been below freezing most days with brilliant sunshine during the day ... my pond had thawed but is frozen solid now.

At least you have some colour! Thank you for the history on easter...