Sunday, May 17, 2015

It is Spring again...

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems...”
                                                                                       - Rainer Maria Rilke
Spring has been lurking about. It always starts slowly, generally arriving here about a month or so after the vernal equinox. It used to unfold like a flower filmed in slow motion. When I wrote a garden column many years ago, I remember musing that Spring in New England was so spectacular I suspected God vacationed here in May and June. Now-a-days most Springs seem to last for a few minutes. Perhaps that perception is colored by my advancing years. When I was young life was a summer of exuberance. In my 40's, autumnal changes revealing true colors assumed the status of favorite season. Now I seem to have a distinct preference for the impatient headlong rush of Spring; renewal and stunning beauty too briefly expressed, a seasonal touch of the poet.
These last few years, Spring has arrived and passed into early summer with undue haste. Last year Spring seemed more like her old self, allowing one time to luxuriate in blossoms and scents wafting upon the breeze. This year we are back to the 21st century Spring explosion and action extravaganza.  Just as the magnolias blossomed, a wave of early heat wiped them out before cooling down again. Just as the apple trees turned the landscape into billow white clouds, the heat returned and the blossoms faded and fell.
It is in Spring that I miss living in Boston. The residential area known as the Back Bay is comprised of Victorian era row house mini mansions built on landfill. The Boston Horticulture Society was involved in selecting the plantings. Frederick Law Olmstead planned the park system, known as the Emerald Necklace. Walking down Marlborough Street on a sunny day when the magnolias are in bloom is a heady experience. I dare say to the Victorian upper crust the overwhelming fragrance and visuals were as close to decadence as could be reasonably handled.
I've been scanning a few of my old photos - I'm fairly sure this is one side of Commonwealth Avenue.
Ah, now this is one corner of Marlborough Street.

A 'cup and saucer' magnolia. This one was in front of my landlord Ralph's home in the South End.
I'd never seen them before, and later showed this very picture to family. My aunt, born and raised in Georgia, sternly rebuked me, "That is not a magnolia, it's a tulip tree". Now, my landlord was a scientist, one of his degrees was in horticulture, and I had no reason to doubt him on the matter. As a member of the Horticultural Society, I used their library to do more research and it is indeed a magnolia, "Magnolia × soulangeana" to be exact. I knew better than to say anything to my aunt. Over 25 years later, living in Brattleboro, I became friends with a Ralph from the radio station who had lived for many years in Boston. I mentioned missing Spring in Boston with all the magnolia trees. "Tulip Trees", he corrected.
The Public Garden, which borders the Common.
Tulips in the Public Garden.
There is a lagoon and suspension bridge in the Public Garden. An entrepreneur, back in the day, was entranced by a scene in Wagner's Lohengrin in which the hero was transported in a boat pulled by a swan. The swan boats have been a seasonal fixture of the Public Garden ever since.

(One year, I was passing through the Public Garden just as the Swan Boats were being returned from their winter storage... )
On the Esplanade, a strip of greenway which separates the Back Bay and the Charles River.

Of course, before Spring arrived here this year, as I was reminiscing about missing Spring in Boston, two different friends announced they were going to Boston and asked what to see. A third friend, who lives in Boston, called.  Luckily, just at that time, Spring arrived here in Brattleboro.
Two weeks ago, early heat provided an explosion of bud and color just as prom goers wandered through the Common.
Last Saturday the temperatures soared into the 80's. Another riot of color appeared in a day's time.
Up by my garden at Solar Hill, the sweet violets bloomed in Elaine's mandala.
In my garden, the 'back 40' was originally shaded by trees no longer with us. I worked to create a 20 foot long woodland walk. Now that one portion gets lots of sun, the Solomon's Seal has spread like crazy. The bloodroot has gone wandering, popping up here and there. The Jacobs Ladder is currently a wave of blue, the Virginia Bluebells are gone, as is the native columbine. But the English bluebells will bloom soon, and all will be right with the woodland walk.  
With the high heat, the crab apples bloomed and faded within three days...

but the walk home from the garden was still pretty nice
The lilacs have been blooming all week. This picture of the Common was taken two weeks to the day from the 'prom night' picture above. Spring passes so quickly now. But then again, at my age, it would.
This week's radio program took note of the birthdays of Irving Berlin, Bobby Darin, and Woody Herman. Like Spring, I must rush through to other things. I hope listeners enjoy the show.

Best Wishes.