Tuesday, March 02, 2010

You Must Remember This

Maybe in Reykjavik people can render an image of snow in cliche-less terms. Maybe in International Falls they can avoid words like pristine in describing the scenes outside their living room windows. Maybe in Kiev, where my Kate has been for five months, one can be so accustomed to it that it hardly merits mentioning.

But this isn’t Reykjavik or International Falls or Kiev. So if we Zone 9 dwellers acted the fool a little with our once-in-a-generation snowfall we should be forgiven. That our dogs didn’t know what to do with the crunchy white stuff beneath their feet, that there were far too many photos of dwarf snowmen posted on Facebook and that the people in those photos had on far too much clothing are things that should be overlooked.

The last time there was that much snow was Christmas Eve of 1989; Adam was 7 and Kate was 5. There was reason to stay outside until fingers and toes began stinging with, strangely enough, heat not cold. There were snowballs to mound and throw and the smallest of hills to slide down. There was magic in the dinosaur-tooth icicles that trimmed the eaves of the houses.

This time, on almost Valentine’s Day, I sat at my desk as the flakes began coming down, fluttering against the just-dark sky. They fell hard and fast like tiny swords slashing through the air and then settled quickly into glistening puffs of icy quilting on the leaves of the holly bushes.

Within a couple of hours the fields on either side of Sandhill, bumpy and lumpy with tractor ruts earlier in the day, were flat and even like the ocean on a windless day. Even in the darkness I could see the white shimmering under the navy blue sky.

I walked out on the deck to take a few photographs – the furniture, all its hard edges buffed away with a thick layer of snow; the limp brown stems of the Gerbera daisies that had lived all the way through December and finally succumbed to the January freeze; the spindles and railings and steps.

At first I didn’t notice the rosemary. Three large pots of tiny tiny leaves frosted like cupcakes.

Rosemary likes it hot and dry. I should have brought the pots indoors before the first freeze and I most certainly should have done something to protect them from the inordinate amount of rain we’d been getting. But I hadn’t.

And I felt bad. I suspected that the rosemary would succumb just as the plumbago and lantana had succumbed. I suspected that I’d walk outside in a day or two, after the snow had melted and the ground had dried out, and find wilted stems and brown-tipped leaves.

I took a photo anyway, knowing that once I got it developed I would feel even more guilty for my neglect.

What a surprise, then, this morning as I was leaving for the office in bright sunshine and without an overcoat to see the new leaves sprouting from the top of the rosemary plants – bright green and pointed straight up into the sky. Barely a week later and the hot-and-dry herb had shaken off the cold and wet and gotten on with the business of growing.

It’s easy, but not a good idea, to neglect something just because it is particularly well-suited to its surroundings. While low maintenance is preferable, in plants and people, you get better results when you pay attention. Better results when you remember.

"There's rosemary; that's for remembrance. Pray, love, remember."

Copyright 2010

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