Monday, March 18, 2019

Signs of Spring

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Oh, how I love spring! For north Texas, this winter has seemed remarkably long, dark, and cold. Maybe this was because I was shut in my upstairs office writing madly for what seemed like endless days and weeks. Maybe it was because we didn't have our usual little spikes of warm days (usually we have at least one winter day when we can bathe the dogs outside, but not this year.) And last week we had our hardest freeze yet, down in the teens, and the plants on my front porch that I had been babying all winter succumbed, even covered with three layers of blankets.

Debs' Japanese maple
At any rate, I am so glad to see the sun. There are delicate little pink buds on our Japanese maples, pale green leaves are unfurling at the base of the hydrangeas, the birds are waking me at dawn, and the last few days I've been hearing a migratory warbler. Yesterday I put out the hummingbird feeders, and a few days ago I bought the spring Boston ferns for the sun porch, hoping they will inspire me to clean my downstairs desk, abandoned for the winter. This week it may be warm enough to think about buying the ferns for the deck and the porch. And maybe, just maybe, uncovering the grill!

And as this year spring is coinciding with the finishing of one book and the starting of another, I'm feeling an almost unmanageable urge to SPRING CLEAN! Things get so neglected when I'm writing. Every cabinet and shelf and closet and dusty corner needs a proper clean and sort. And there are outside projects, too. The flowerbeds need mulching, the pots on porch and deck and patio need replanting. The house needs power washing (not my job!), the windows need cleaning (ditto.)


Debs' hydrangea
So where to start on all these things? Or maybe it would be nice just to sit in the sun and read a book...

What about you, dear REDS? Are you bursting with spring energy (even if you can't quite see spring yet?)

RHYS BOWEN: Here in Arizona it has been unnaturally cold and wet (for us. If it drops to 50 degrees we freeze. I know. We are wimps). But it has meant I haven't been able to swim as much as I like. Also I have been so incredibly busy that the months here have just flown by. I had to finish a new stand-alone, do the promo for The Victory Garden when it came out at the end of February--oh, and we bought a new house and MOVED. The new house looked perfect in every way--new counters, cabinets, bathrooms, paint, windows, floors etc etc.  So why is it that I asked John whether we had now subscribed to the handyman of the week club? The plumber/electrician/garage door man/other electrician for outdoor lights/landscaper to remove tree/man to deliver rocks for garden/other handyman to put in towel rails and hang drapes. So please don't talk to me about spring cleaning! We are unpacked, the house looks perfect, we had a housewarming party and that's all the cleaning I am prepared to do. Of course we drive back to California at the end of the month and the house there will have been untouched for 3 months and need a good clean. Our garden will need a good weeding. Luckily there are Miriam and Francisco to do those!   But Debs, in preparation for moving I did weed out and donate an awful lot of stuff! Does that count?



DEBS: Absolutely, Rhys! I think we should all move at least every ten years, just to get rid of stuff. And we've been in our house, gulp, almost twenty-five...

LUCY BURDETTE: I'm not complaining you understand, but it's been HOT in Key West this winter. So that means something different about spring--it's going to get hotter! That said, the trees and tropical flowers are in full bloom and beautiful. And I've discovered new allergies, including one to the flowering of mango trees. Who knew? I'd love to spring clean Debs--it's the most satisfying endeavor. However, I am in a madly writing phase, so contenting myself with using up what's in the freezer!

HALLIE EPHRON: On my way home from the supermarket yesterday I saw the FIRST sign of spring: flowering witch hazel. Though I've seen a few snow drops poking their wary heads up before they got buried in the last blizzard. It really is starting to feel like spring.

Here in New England, we had the weirdest winter. NO SNOW until practically March, and then 2 feet. We should have a spectacular though late spring with all the pent up energy in plants ready to burst as soon as it's warmer. Which should be tomorrow. Or the next day. Or maybe the day after that. 


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Yeah, I got nothin'. It's mud season up here in Maine, that special time of the year when the ice and snow melt under the strong March sun and then refreeze when it drops down to 10 degrees a night. My unpaved driveway is full of ruts and puddles and potholes big enough to swim in appear daily on the surrounding roads.  I heard a weird creaking sound outside my window Saturday morning. Turns out it was bird song! It's been so long I had forgotten when our little feathered friends sound like.


Debs' forsythia
JENN McKINLAY: I'm in AZ with Rhys and this winter has been unreasonably dreary. That being said, the past few days have been marvelous! I've spent most of my time outside, hiding from my people who all seem to have come down with some flu bug that I am determined to miss out on. No FOMO, here, I assure you. I have house projects bursting out of my head, so yes, I am go go go on spring cleaning, painting, gardening, tiling, roofing, you name it! Hurrah, spring has sprung!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I am on a huge throw-stuff-away kick. I gave Jonathan two big green bags and said--fill these up for Goodwill.  I am wondering what the best way to get rid of two sets of dishes is. I am going to open the upstairs closet, close my eyes, and donate every single thing.  If I don't even know what's there, I won't know what's gone.
I am also going to do away with every towel and washcloth and sheet that's not perfect.
And I took nine boxes of books to the library.
In other news: our snowdrops are flourishing! And it's almost time for the ducks.
And. I hope I'm right on this. I took my winter coat to the cleaners.


DEBS: Oh, Hank, that's what I want to do, too! But I have to take a deep breath and tell myself "One little thing at a time." 

READERS, is it SPRING yet where you are? Tell us what you most look forward to! (When it finally arrives.)

51 comments:

  1. The weather here cannot decide if it wants to be warm or cold, so we get a bit of one, then the other kicks in. The poor flowers don’t have a clue. My favorite spring sight would be the daffodils popping up and the lilacs blooming . . . .

    ReplyDelete
  2. It was 81 degrees on Sunday in Southern CA. We've barely been lucky to hit 70 earlier in 2019. It was glorious! Like Rhys, Jenn, and Debs have all talked about, it's been unseasonably cold and wet this winter. I'm hearing California is officially out of our drought, so I'm not complaining too loudly, but I'm looking forward to spring and warmer weather again.

    Unfortunately, we are supposed to be cooler weather and rain on Wednesday again. As long as I have my new heater/AC unit by then (mine broke on Thursday), I'll be fine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a little difficult for New Englanders to sympathize, Mark, but I do know it all depends on what you're used to. My late father-in-law, who lived in Laguna Niguel, used to spend Christmas with us in Maine. One year, he was scheduled to judge a horse show in Connecticut on January 6th, so he decided to stay from before Christmas until then.

      Maine usually has a beautiful white Christmas, and that year was no exception. In fact, it kept snowing, on and off, for days of leaden gray skies, temperatures never rising above 25 degrees, and 14-hour-long nights.

      On December 30th, Ross and I heard strange noises coming from our guest room at 4 in the morning. We got up to discover Dad packing. He had called the airline, changed his ticket, and was taking a 6 am flight to John Wayne/Orange County. He said it was because he was worried about his pacemaker and wanted to see his cardiologist, but we knew it was the winter weather that had broken him.

      Delete
  3. I'm on the NH border halfway between Julia to the north and Hank and Hallie to the south, so yeah, it's cold and muddy and sunny. At least the snow is mostly off the driveway - that's all I've got. But I cut forsythia to force inside, and its yellow blooms are so cheerful. After I turn in the April 1 book, maybe I'll do some much needed de-cluttering and spring cleaning, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Going out now to cut some forsythia. There were pussy willows in the supermarket.

      Delete
  4. Every time I think we are finished with the cold weather (for us in Central Texas anyway), we get another front and lots of wind. I'm so ready for real spring. I will say that I've noticed the red buds in bloom and I've seen bluebonnets. I love our wildflowers in spring - my favorite part - and we we had enough moisture in late January and February to help with those. I've done a big clearout of my books - the library and a local charity got those. Ready to enjoy some great weather!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kay, my daughter and I are going to Round Top (central Texas) on April 1st. Hope the bluebonnets are still blooming! We'll take I45, having decided that it's the much better route from Dallas. No bluebonnets or wildflowers this far north yet.

      Delete
  5. Here on the Canadian Prairies, we are hoping to feel some Spring weather this week. Above zero temps and some actual warmth in the sunshine will be glorious, but there is too much snow still for anything growing to poke its nose up just yet. First we have to endure what Julia is experiencing: melting, mud and muck, then refreezing and slipping and sliding, then repeat. Oh well. It happens every year...and every year it seems miraculous that it happens. Bring it on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Likewise here in Quebec Amanda, well described

      Delete
    2. Mud Season reminds me of the children's song "Going On A Bear Hunt": Can't go over it. Can't go under it. We've got to go through it!

      Delete
    3. Mud season - that was certainly AZ this winter. We don't really have mud rooms. It's a disadvantage with critters and kids who track the dirt ALL through the house.

      Delete
  6. Oh, we had a perfect Spring one day last week! And then quickly back to winter, wind, snow on the ground,and cold which seems so much colder after that day with temps in the 70s. I am beginning to feel the urge to do some cleaning; this place definitely needs it!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Cincinnati checking in. The dwarf daffodils are about to bloom. Twenties overnight, fifties during the day. The birds are nesting and the house is filthy.

    ReplyDelete
  8. And I am seeing Robins like crazy! One day I saw maybe 10 in our backyard! And yes, they were bobbing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have robins all year here, but they've been much more visible the last few weeks.

      Delete
    2. They are going CRAZY! So many of them! I love them, but it is verging on weird.

      Delete
  9. My winter jackets at staying right where they belong, on hooks near the front door. We did have a couple of real spring days but others - in just one week - veering back to winter temps and wind. I'm in New York,where being surrounded by water usually means less snow but lot of humidity to affect the weather.Plants? In fall 5 year-old granddaughter and I planted early bulbs in a pot at the top of the big stairs and I don't see a sign of life. I fear the squirrels got them. But in the small sidewalk level garden -where we planted nothing - little points of green are popping up everywhere.Looks like bulbs from earlier years survived-they should but often don't- and soon we will have crocuses and early daffodils. What joy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had crocuses in January and the early daffs. The later ones are still blooming. However, I have up on tulips here years ago. The squirrels just dig them up and eat them!

      Delete
  10. Northcentral Ohio here, near the lake, and snowflakes are gently falling to earth even as I type this. But yesterday was out with saw and tarp dealing with the debris from an earlier windstorm--the pines took quite a hit then. Saw crocuses popping out of the ground--and yes, Hank, the robin flock has returned! And a sweet wren singing.

    ReplyDelete
  11. In the Chicago suburbs, bizarrely nicknamed "Chicagoland," it's 30 degrees this morning, expected to climb to a sweltering 40 degrees this afternoon.

    Hank: I support your taking your winter coat to the cleaners. I always do this when I've absolutely had it with winter. I feel it makes a statement that the weather goddess cannot fail to notice. (But I usually regret it, I must say.)

    Debs: I like that idea of moving every 10 years, just to take a new look at all the "stuff" and purge. Of course, we can do that without moving--but it's not the same motivation somehow. I did purge bags of stuff when I read The Magical Art of Tidying Up about 3 years ago, and I must say, it truly was magical.


    Winter here is mostly messy and uncomfortable, but it really is lovely spring, summer and fall. I'm a non-gardener in a neighborhood of gardeners, though, so the winter hides my agricultural deficits. As the temperature warms, my lack of green thumb becomes public again, and I don't have Rhys' Francisco nor Miriam either.

    Anyway, today the sun is shining and since its been overcast for what seem centuries, I'm celebrating in my heart!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, Keziah, did you "tidied" places stay tidied?

      Delete
    2. Yes, they did. Because the clutter is gone, the mess is not possible. Unless one would go out and bring more clutter in. But that did not happen. After reading the book, I think differently about "things," and I don't bring anything home that does not "spark joy." I leave stores empty-handed most of the time now!

      Delete
  12. Southern California here. Mark's right. We are out of the drought! Today it will hit 79 degrees however tomorrow will be a high of 61 degrees.
    As I've mentioned before I live in an apartment complex so I'm not surrounded by much nature. However, we have a family of migratory ducks who annually use the pool here as a rest stop. They showed up last week for a brief overnight stay and then continued on their way.
    I've been checking the Descanso Garden website to see what's in bloom. The azaleas are in full swing but not much more...yet!
    Indoor spring cleaning??? I haven't been bitten by the bug... maybe April?

    ReplyDelete
  13. I live about two blocks from Deb, so she's already covered our winter weather. This past weekend is the first I can remember in ages when it a) wasn't raining, b) was warm enough to work outside, and c) I didn't have rehearsal, so I did a bunch of yard work, including trimming back the last of the dead stalks in my front border garden, and putting up a new obelisk for my latest rose to climb on. Now I have to reposition the old trellis, and figure out exactly which excellent flowering vine to put on it. And keep working on my ideas for that north-side planting. I have rehearsal this coming weekend, but after that, my local garden center had better brace itself!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Cincinnati here, too. The snowdrops are still in bloom, three weeks later! The longest ever, and the winter aconite has also just begun dying back. We have the big early yellow daffodils blooming, both here at our house, and at the new house. Along the driveway the bulbs that escaped the bulldozers are bravely peeking up, yay!

    I was at the Cincinnati Zoo last week, where they have a horticultural collection as valuable as their zoological one (and a wonderful educational outreach program, complete with tons of free resources). The miniature sky blue iris were blooming, and the tulips were showing two to three inches of leaf.

    Taking stock at the new house yesterday I realized we are going to have a major challenge in order to have any kind of garden this year. The immediate prospect of a scraped-bare and leveled yard, and the work it represents, is giving me a headache. On the plus side, moving creates its own opportunity for spring-type clearing out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen, sometimes it's good to live someplace for at least a season before doing major landscaping, don't you think? To figure out your light patterns, and really think about what you want. But then what fun!

      Delete
  15. Here in southern CT on Long Island Sound, the winter was milder than usual, with very little snow, but it was still too cold for me. I just don’t like cold weather.

    Over the weekend I finally saw a robin! Usually I begin seeing them in late February, although a couple of friends did see some in February. Yesterday while walking through the condo complex I spotted snowdrops!

    Last week I did a lot of clearing out and purging and still have lots to do. I made numerous trips out to the dumpster (got in extra steps doing that!) and also put aside a bag of clothing to wash and donate. On Saturday I handed off the bag to Goodwill. There will be more. Since last July I’ve lost thirty pounds, and my closets need room for smaller clothing.

    Well, I should start planning out the rest of my day. I must add that being retired now makes these chores feel less burdensome!

    DebRo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow DebRo, you are on a roll! and losing 30 lbs is impressive. (I may have gained some of yours, because I've been testing too many key lime pies...)

      Delete
    2. DebRo, what fun to treat yourself to smaller clothes! Talk about inspiration for cleaning out closets!

      Delete
  16. FYI: Kay Stewart was the lucky winner of Essie Lang's new book, TROUBLE ON THE BOOKS!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AND Kaye Barley the winer of...uh-oh, what was it? Kaye, Kaye??

      Delete
  17. Reading about the terrible floods in the middle of the country - hope everyone is staying dry.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yay. Finta, AKA Ann Mason, is back. I've been unable to comment for a week now!

    The yellow aconite have bloomed right on schedule, mid-March up here on the tundra. We've had a couple of 60 degree days, but today isn't one of them. I have learned not to expect spring before the first of May, which is the absolute earliest planting date here, end of May being even better.

    My iPhone has blown up, so I'm getting a new one today. And if anyone is in the market for a new computer, I just got the same one Julie got in December for precisely half the price. So its a 2018 model, but who cares. I make them last until the last key drops off anyway.

    Lately I've been having dreams about Bouchercon 2019, and I'm so looking forward to seeing some or all of you. This year my daughter Melinda will be coming too, so it will be extra fun introducing her to all the Reds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay, Ann, we can't wait to see you and Melinda!!

      I just ordered a new laptop last night. Fingers crossed my ailing one gets me through the blog this week and my copy edit!!!!!

      Delete
    2. Mine is a Dell Inspiron, 2 TB, lighted keyboard, 15 inch screen, 2.7 pounds, circa $500, no kidding. I'm over the moon at the price. Makes my new phone free I think.

      Delete
  19. I saw my first color yesterday, yellow flowers on a hardy ground cover in my daughter’s back yard. There are still patches of snow but it really does seem as if we are springing forward.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have snowdrops blooming and daffodils sprouting. Robins and red-winged blackbirds are singing. That's about it. Although we had one 70-degree day (a fluke!) with a couple of 60-degree days looming at the end of the forecast, so there's hope!

    ReplyDelete
  21. It has been so gorgeous here the last couple of days. Highs in the 60s, clear blue sky, dropping back down to the 30s at night. These are the days when you actually want to sit in the sun. Believe me, that doesn't last long in Texas:-)

    But we really need a day warm enough to bathe the dogs, and the first day I'm seeing in the long term forecast that is up to 75 and sunny is April 5th.

    ReplyDelete
  22. We seem to be stuck in on-again/off-again gray - but thankfully little rain. We did have a day that spiked up to 70 last week (glorious and typical - our hint of what's to come), but now we've settled back into a more usual 40/50 day, below freezing overnight.

    My neighbors have daffodil greens up, but no blossoms. The birds are chirping. I'm waiting for the forsythia at the end of the street to blossom. Then I'll KNOW spring is here.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This has been a looooong winter, broken up by nice weather here in Houston. The azaleas are blooming in force now. A few oddballs were blooming in December. Our satsuma orange tree is blooming and smells heavenly. It looks like a bumper crop again this year. I expect the Asian jasmine will soon follow and then our whole neighborhood will smell like heaven. I need to do a bunch of replanting due to a killing frost last season and bigfooted workmen. I haven't had the heart to, but a neighbor whom we don't know gave us a gift card to the local nursery so can't let it go to waste. I'll probably invest in a bunch of sage aka salvia or pentas for color. Our temperatures are still bouncing; we are having lows in the upper 40s. I know that is no big deal but it is unusual for our neck of the woods for mid-March. It's been a great excuse to postpone yardwork as who knows when we may have another freeze?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Here in western Kentucky it's in the 50s this week and will warm up to the 60s by the weekend. Although the temps are exactly warm, there is a feeling in the air that spring is here. The sun seems to shine in a different way, a brighter and more energizing way. Now, if I could just channel your energy, Hank, and accomplish what you have with weeding. Nine boxes of books to the library! I'm inspired.

    ReplyDelete
  25. My crocus and hellebores bloomed yesterday. I took off leaves so the plants could come up and so I could see them better. Unfortunately I'm waiting for workmen to replace my back steps and porch carpet so can't really get into gardening too much. My tools are down the cellar instead of in the porch closet. It's not real warm yet so I can wait. Karen in Ohio, you can plant pots until you see what you have in your yard.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Lucy, a friend told me that her husband could not even go near a mango without breaking out, and one place they lived had a tree in the front yard. They let neighbors know, and bless them, they took every single mango from the tree. ;-)
    I did weed when I moved, ten years ago, but I think things multiplied in the moving boxes. I have told the younger relatives that dishes on the high shelves are up for grabs, and one niece did take some extra furniture, but I do have to work on reducing stuff . . .

    ReplyDelete
  27. Need to get my winter coat, which I wore maybe once, out of my car and back into the back of the closet. Hard to believe just two weeks ago the weather headlines were about the Russian River flooding Guerneville and the Laguna De Santa Rosa entered Sebastopol. Broke down boxes for the dumpster. Walking to the laundry room yesterday, I discovered these little blue blossoms. I have no idea what they are but they created a lovely picture - small little blue flowers going back away from the path to the corner of the apartment building where a very nice clump of calla lilies are blooming.

    ReplyDelete