Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Spring Bulb Show

It's that time of year.

The clocks have sprung ahead by an hour and nothing seems quite right yet. There were two surprisingly sunny days which warmed into the low 50 degrees Fahrenheit. I was too busy to truly enjoy either of them. Saturday was spent working on my radio show. The first 'official' broadcast of my program was on March the 11th, 2000. I'll tell that story another day, maybe tomorrow. You have been warned. Sunday morning was spent working on setting up the handicapped accessible production room for the station. I'll probably get around to that story, too. Why do I think of all these when I haven't had an idea for weeks and I've already decided upon this entry into the blog? Probably because it's that time of year.

See, here in New England, and especially here in my little corner of Vermont, the skies turn gray in October. And it lasts until April, sometimes May. Over the last week or so, the odor of skunk has reappeared, a sure sign the mating rituals are on - Spring is coming. Unwanted email advertising messages, blessedly filtered out by Norton, have returned in quantity so reminiscent of pre-Easter bunny rabbit litters that one checks to make sure that anti-spam programs and firewalls are still active. At the moment, offers to help me spend monies to be garnered from my new improved credit rating are slightly outnumbered by offers to help in the bankruptcy sure to be caused by my suddenly lowered credit rating. At this time of year, the itchiness rises. Cabin Fever sets in. Meek little housewives finger the carving knife while studying their husband's necks - oh, wait that's hot dry Santa Annas. Sorry 'bout that Raymond Chandler. The where are the snows of yesteryear begin to vanish exposing brown or green grass like so much promise of a smile on a summer night, or the whisper of a "yes". But the promise is as yet unfulfilled. The chalice has been raised but the miracle has not yet happened. "Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate".

One of my coping mechanisms is to go off to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Every year around the first two weeks of March, the horticulture department uses the first two rooms of the college's 118 year old Lyman conservatory for a display of tulips, daffodils, and other bulbs which can be tricked into early bloom. There are other rooms to explore, devoted to plants from cool temperate climates, the palm house, a room of succulents, etc.

The Lyman Conservatory (and a late snow covered magnolia) from a picture I took so long ago I don't remember the year. The magnolia is gone now. 

When you enter the Conservatory, it is through a brick visitor's entrance. Admission is free, but a $2.00 donation is requested. The door to the greenhouse complex leads you into a riot of color and scent. Nearing the end of a New England winter, the perfume of daffodils and tulips upon entry is so overwhelming I can easily imagine being knocked over backwards by its force.

You have to wait a bit, or be exceptionally lucky, to be able to get a shot of the first two rooms (i.e. the bulb show) without people crowding the aisles. Over the years I've been there at various times of day, and I have never entered into an empty room. You might think that since these are very old greenhouse rooms, they aren't all that big. Which, I suppose, is true. But one does not notice as the senses take awhile to recover from the effect of entry; after a Brattleboro winter, the experience approaches lush decadence. The right hand side of the entry way is, in itself, a start down a primrose path...

Once you recover your bearings, you begin to notice that there are wonderful details everywhere. It is easy to once again become overwhelmed. There is so much to see, and so many people you worry there won't be time. Really. We have only taken a few steps inside. Take a few more steps, and the view changes:

The other rooms of the conservatory are also worth every moment one can spend there:

If you wander down the short path in the Cool Temperature Plant Room, there is a waterfall:

I could use a nice sit on the bench across from that waterfall just now. This post is in its second day. To post to the blog, I use the Chrome browser after Blogger decided it did not wish to work with my usual browser. There was a potential security issue with Java, so I updated. The browser now frequently freezes. I've re-installed it twice to no avail. This morning, there was a new version of my usual browser (Explorer) available, so I downloaded and installed it. It opened, but refused to load any pages. Normally, I'd check for reviews and reactions before downloading something important. I guess it was the heady onrush of the promise of Spring that unhinged me so that I took such leave of my normal procedures. Perhaps a visit to the Tropical Room will help.

The following is from my last visit to the Spring Bulb show, back on March the 12th of 2006. The bananas hadn't started ripening yet this year...

There are still other rooms to visit:

This year the hallway of orchids didn't have its usual display, so I've reached back to 2006 for this one:

The hallway did have a few things in it, though:

Of course, the only way to exit all of this is to retrace your steps and go back through the bulb rooms (and see everything you missed the first time).

Well, the parking meters near the college only last two hours, so it was time to leave and go off for lunch. Which, by my 'breath of spring' ritual is at the nearby Miss Florence diner.

On my last visit there in 2006, I was sitting in one of the booths when I realized that my my little digital camera had fallen out of my pocket. I left my contact information with the owner just in case, retraced the days path to the greenhouses, all to no avail. Three days later, I got a call from the diner's owner. He'd been moving the wooden booth seats to clean, and there was my camera! It was picked up by a friend and returned to Brattleboro, as I didn't have a car at the time. I've also been without a car for the past few years; my trip to the bulb show was made on both occasions with my friend, driver, and camera rescuer Ralph Kunkel. Ralph has a great show on our Community Radio Station, "And How That Rhythm", every Sunday morning from 10am until noon. He's very good, by the way, at stepping out of a picture in that moment between pressing the camera button and the movement of the shutter. Still, I did manage to get one taken. Thanks for the excursion, Ralph!