December 18, 2012

...and there shall be peace

As our neighbors in Connecticut begin to recover after last Friday's utterly reprehensible attack, it's been numbing - even for those of us who do not have children. Like many of you, I've tried a news fast, I've tried to move forward but it is impossible to escape the updates, and perhaps it is just human nature to feel the need to try and make sense out of something which seems undefinable from any perspective.

Aside from the tragedy in Newtown, CT, I've had my own drama here at the house. My cold/flu which kept me out of work last week for 7 days spread to my 98 ( nearly 99) year old dad, who fell Saturday and cracked his head open as he came down with pneumonia. He returned home from the hospital tonight. Joe was admitted to the hospital yesterday for a few days, as he too acquired pneumonia as well as flu tough enough to require hospital care. I, still recovering, now live in a world of bed pans, tea, diapers, walkers, visiting nursesmaids ( yeah - "nursemaids" makes me feel Downton Abbyish).

Still, with Dad turning 99 on February 6th, I can't help but think of those tiny lives lost so near to us. There's no sense in trying to justify or make sense out of fate, but sometimes, one can't help feel the imbalance, Mother Nature is never very good in dishing out 'fairness' or justice. As we learn  these lessons of unfairness which life demonstrates so often, sometimes moving even day to day can be painfully raw.

We awoke here in central Massachusetts yesterday to an ice storm. With temperatures hovering near the freezing point, rain turns instantly to ice, as it hits the frozen surface. These two Downy Woodpeckers enjoy some suet and sunflower seeds in their crystal palace, which was melted by nightfall. Birds are most dependent during snowstorms and ice storms, when their natural food sources become covered or when food becomes scarce.

A Golfinch snacks on Nyger seed amidst a diamond-studded Japanese maple tree during yesterdays ice storm which coated much of New England in a thick, coating of ice.

As Christmas looms ahead, my many plans for making wreaths, baking, decorating have all gone on hold, so this blog has suffered a bit lately. Hopefully, next week I can catch up with my plans to reinvent, to add vigor and sparkle to this site, and to finalize the redesign on these 18 days of vacation which seem to be slipping away faster than those icicles on the greenhouse.

The sun came out ( finally!) this afternoon, and I was treated to a rare glimpse of summer in the greenhouse. I could almost imagine that it was mid July and not mid December as two Tropaeolum species bloomed in the warm sunshine. Tropaeolum, or Nasturtium are common summer annuals in many of our gardens, but these same bright annuals provided cheery color in cold greenhouses throughout the 18th and 19th century. It was not uncommon to train long, trailing vines of nasturtiums in conservatories, where they would hand in long trusses, providing bloom throughout late winter.

 A rare treat bloomed for a second time, after a seedling emerged in a pot of Bouganvillia. I was hoping that it was a seedling of the rare Tropaeolum moritzianum, which I had obtained as a gift from a friend, but which never seemed to germinate this past summer. But now that it has bloomed, I can see that it is an equally rare and unusual speicies, but one which I had grown before, so this clearly is a self-sown stow away from last season. Now identified as T. smithii, another fringed, annual Tropaeolum, I will work hard to try and save some seed of this gem which typically blooms for me in late summer, not in December.

Tropaeolum smithii, trailing up a trellis in the greenhouse. This rare, annual vine self-seeding into a pot of bouganvillia.
Fernery in December. It' s not hard to see why ferns were once popular in cold Victorian homes and 19th C. mansions. They often look best, just in a beginning of winter, when rooms are cold, and the air is still damp. In the cold greenhouse, many thrive on the shady side of the potting bench.


  1. Anonymous4:50 PM

    So sorry to hear of your family's ill health. I know the worry for your dad. My dad lived with me until he was 100. Try to get as much help as you can to come into the home. Medicare covers a lot! Both you & Joe take care. I knew something was up because you haven't had an entry on blog. Merry Christmas. Cathy in Utah

  2. Anonymous2:09 AM

    Here's hoping that all three of you are well in time for Christmas. Even far away in North Vancouver, we feel bereft at the senseless loss of young life in Newtown, and watch cautiously and hope for positive change to emerge from the tragedy.

  3. Fritz2:59 PM

    Beautiful photo of T. smithii! I love tropaeolum, their flowers are so cheery.

  4. I think some had an ice storm. lol Didn't seem to brother the birds.


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