As I type, the snow is falling again. No, not just snow, and not just falling. It's sleet, and it's slicing the night air, encasing the trees, and leaving the snowbanks, roads, and sidewalks coated with a slick skim of ice. We've had one record-breaking snowstorm (32") in Portland this winter, followed by several smaller ones. Mr. Magpie and I have become intimately acquainted with the fancy ergonomically designed shovels we bought for the new house, which, for much of January and February, has looked like some version of these photos I shot earlier in the week:
Yes, it's sweet, and don't get me wrong, we love our Little House in the Snow. I love pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder as I put another log on the fire or tunnel my way out the back door, and Mr. Magpie loves chopping wood and practicing new ways to tie his wool muffler, but I'm not kidding when I say we are ready for the Big Shift. If you live in a place with real Winters with a capital W, you know the shift I mean: that palpable change, that first day when you walk outside and realize that the sun has risen just high enough in the sky and lingered just long enough at the end of day to begin to warm the ground. There might still be snow, but beneath it is the soil, and you know this for one reason: suddenly, you can smell it.
And there's the air, too. Even though it's still cold as hell, there's a slight softening. The wind doesn't whip at your cheeks, the cold doesn't sink into your bones. Maybe you even leave your parka unzipped as you shovel the slushsnowice from the driveway.
Then early one morning, you spot a Goldfinch on the bird feeder, and he has shed his drab winter coat in favor of brilliant spring gold. And a week or two later, you catch sight of that first scarlet flash of a redwing blackbird. Snow or no snow, Spring has come. The first flowers can't be far behind (let's hope a few of the crocus bulbs I planted in the grass escaped the greedy clutches of my friends the squirrels).
Two days ago, I was in the yard
scolding chatting with the squirrels when I sensed the first wee hint that spring may be on its way. As I watched the sun fall behind the white pines, I actually felt the warmth of its rays. This was all I needed. Back inside I went to pore over my garden catalogs. I'm obsessed right now with roses, everything from my favorite rugosas, to classic climbers and David Austin English roses.
|David Austin Carding Mill|
In my last garden I grew several kinds of roses, including a deep pink wild one that seemed to volunteer itself in gardens all over the neighborhood. Here at the new house, I have certain roses in mind, like "Carding Mill," pictured above, but I'd love to hear from you about some of your favorites, too.
And just because I need a little Summer beauty during Winter's home stretch,I thought I'd share a few photos of roses I've taken over the past three years. Those of you in colder climes can think of them as armfuls of summer's beauty and scent from me to you.
|Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gigi Thibodeau|
|Peaks Island Maine, Gigi Thibodeau|
|London, Gigi Thibodeau|
|At Borough Market, London, Gigi Thibodeau|
|St Paul's Cathedral, London, Gigi Thibodeau|
|Peaks Island, Maine, Gigi Thibodeau|