I heaved my bag of potting soil onto my kitchen table, grabbed a knife and slit it down the middle. Lowering my head, I closed my eyes to winter’s endless snow and inhaled. Deeply.
“Oh, that smells so good,” I said to no one.
I got up from the table, made a cup of chamomile tea and sat down, dreaming of gardens, flowers and warm summer days.
There’s only so much winter a person can stand. Only so many days I can wake up, look out my window and say, “Oh, look at all this beautiful fresh snow. Aren’t we lucky!”
“Just shut up,” I want to say to myself.
It’s time to stick my head in the dirt. Time to take in Gustav Klimt’s “Flower Garden,” enlarged to the size of my computer screen. Time to ogle Piet Mondrian’s “Amaryllis” and Vincent Van Gogh’s “Still Life with Iris,” which he painted while in a psychiatric hospital in Remy, France. Flowers heal. Violet and Prussian blue iris standing out against a glowing citron background. For me the scent of iris is more haunting than that of roses. A big ruffled peony bloom, a room full of orchids — bring them on.
With flowers on my mind, I go to the grocery store, leaving with nine market bunches of flowers — three for $12. A small price to pay for spring: bicolor mauve and champagne roses, coral scabiosas, blush-toned stock, stargazer lilies and simple carnations that last a very long time.
The carnation was once used to treat fevers. I’m counting on them to dissipate my spring fever today, tomorrow and maybe until the snow melts.
Soon I’ll plant my nasturtium seeds, pour my bag of soil into a large tub to moisten with just enough water to make a mess but not enough to make mud pies. The instructions on my package of fancy Phoenix nasturtium seeds say I can sow my seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost of the year.
Well, let’s see ... if I plant my petunia seedlings on Old West Days, let them sit a week, watch the weather, act surprised when snow is forecasted eight days later, bring them all back inside, shocked by the weather, and then take them back out once and for all the latter part of the first week of June, well then, taking all that into account I think it will be just fine to sow my nasturtium seeds now. Nasturtiums are foolproof, though this fool’s seedlings grew very well last year through April, when all of a sudden they just toppled over.
“Soil-borne fungus,” my gardener friend told me in no uncertain terms. “Did you plant your seeds in last year’s soil?”
“Maybe,” I replied.
“Well, maybe you better not do that next year,” she said.
Hence the bag of potting mix sliced up the middle sitting on my kitchen table.
I will look forward to watching my tropaeolum grow. I enjoy learning the scientific names for plants: “Tro-PEE-oh-lum” is just such a nice word to say while at a friend’s house having iced mint tea, walking along the flower boarders.
“Just look at my nasturtiums,” a friend will say.
“Yes,” I’ll reply. “I didn’t realize there are so many varieties of tropaeolum available online. There are even some perennials species that grow in Peru.”
Oh, I’m looking forward to those days.
Until then I may have to supplement my spring longing by digging out my acrylic paints. I dabble in watercolors, but I’m leaning toward primitive florals painted on barn wood.
“Not crafts,” you say.
No, not crafts exactly. I recently stumbled upon the little village of Zalipie in my virtual universe northeast of Krakow, Poland. It’s not that difficult to get to from Krakow. First you take an hour and a half ride by train to the city of Tarnow, then you can catch a minivan to the crossroads of Zalipie and Niwki. Bring a lunch. There are no hotels in Zalipie, no restaurants, no grocery store. What Zalipie does have is a village covered with painted flowers. Folk art-y flowers covering the outside of houses, the inside of houses, on churches, doors, dog houses and wheelbarrows. Painted flowers everywhere, a tradition that began in the 19th century to camouflage sooty walls and later encouraged with a village competition to help recover from the atrocities of World War II.
Paint was made by hand, brushes fabricated using the hair from the tails of village cows. Painting flowers would be the balm of a village, with residents rendering everything with flowers of every shape, size and color.
Until winter’s end, I’ll create a mini-Zalipie, painting flowers on wood, on paper, on my refrigerator, until the first dandelion blooms followed by Siberian iris, a snow drop, a daffodil.