Monday, April 16, 2012

Dithering in Brooklyn

I've been in this house for a few years now, and each year, I do a blog post about nothing but spring. Spring spring delicious spring. It feels like very familiar territory. Maybe because that's what this blog is all about. (Or, in my thesis that I haven't written, what I want this blog to be all about.) Bright colors, new life, the happiness of coincidence, the passage of a day. 

Just yesterday I walked to the local Buffalo Exchange to buy some new jeans (yup, ripped the crotch on another pair...what is it with me and my chafey thighs?), and I thought, I'll just bring the camera. You never know what you'll see along the way. And sure enough, there were these purple flowers. A sea of them, in fact, crashing upon my head. To say that they are bursting from the tree would be silly. They are a floral infestation. They are positively frothing. This tree is at its ecstatic zenith. If a tree could have an orgasm, this would be it! May I look at this photo and always remember how lush it feels to stand in the presence of a tree this joyous. 

It seems that each spring, there is a day that feels like this, when you just know that everything is going to be okay. 80 degrees, a sweet perfume of blossoms, followed by a strawberry banana smoothie called Girlfriend Getaway from a local eatery. (Seriously, it's a very embarrassing smoothie to order: "One Girlfriend Getaway, please!") 
Not ten feet from the ecstatic purple tree was a border of tulips hanging on for dear life, their giant voluptuous petals starting to lean back against the air. Oh, dear sweet sinewy tulips...I wish we were able to grow you in our yard, but alas, we have gremlins that chop off your head before you even bloom.  It was a serious problem last year, but this year its fatal. The gremlin has perfected his system. Thankfully, daffodils are not delicious to the gremlin, and we have lots of those. 
Earlier that day, before the jeans shopping and the Girlfriend Getaway and the insanity of the purple flowers, I worked in our backyard and Camper followed me around, a loyal devotee. I gave him a bath and then made him sit outside. I read Nancy Drew; he chewed on a bone. Later we went for a very wimpy run (my jogging is pretty much his natural walking pace). There were squirrels to chase and old Polish ladies to sniff, so I can only assume he had fun.
Camper also helped me transplant my tomato plants to a bigger cup size (which is not meant to sound like I'm talking about bras, but if I were, I guess you could say that the plants went from an A-cup to a C). There's something about going from that tiny plastic cup to a big old pint-sized plastic cup that just drives my tomato plants wild. Over the next three weeks, they will undergo a massive transformation, from puny little sprogs to robust burly plants. Part of this growth spurt is because, when I transfer them over, I thin them down--my least favorite gardening task. Of the two or three little tomato plants growing in each cup, I have to decide which one looks the strongest, which one has the best chance at survival, and that's the one I get to keep--the rest of the sprogs get yanked. It always feels like such a waste, but I know it's for the greater good. Perspective, Liana! No wimpy tomatoes!

So this is weird. Yesterday, when I was thinning my poor plants, I realized that all of the stems were purple. Are the stems of tomato plants always purple at this phase, I thought? I've been growing tomatoes for four years now, and for the life of me I don't remember purple stems. I took this tangled sprog photo above to share with you all.
And then my inner Martha Stewart stylist said, no, Liana, line them up all pretty. No one wants to see that tangled mess.
Around this time, I looked up from my tomato stem styling long enough to notice that my special mutation daffodil--my dear old friend--had bloomed. Ah yes, my double daffodil, growing beneath the cherry tree. It's become ritual now, me and this daffodil. It's always late to bloom, having two heads to sprout instead of one. I prop its head up with my hand and we say hello to each other. Each year, I look into the heart of this flower and try to see where it starts being a daffodil and where it stops. It has none of that decidedly buttercup shaping. It's not even a classic yellow. It's almost more of a dahlia, but now that's not quite right either, is it. Each year, its genetic memory winters over in the bulb, and it remembers to grow up exactly as odd as it did the last year. A gorgeously strange mutation, like no other in the world. And it's in my backyard. Mine mine mine. I feel very lucky indeed.


  1. Oh Liana, this brought me right back to the heady splendor of Brooklyn in the springtime! My brother was raving about it this weekend, and then sort of ruefully noted that days like that are commonplace in LA. But that's the problem. Without the contrast, they don't have the same impact. As I said to him "Yeah, but here they don't feel like the hope of redemption." Here is to your mutant daffodil! And to hope. And feeling very lucky indeed. xx

    1. Oh Nicole, that is the paradox isn't it. To have a million beautiful days that don't feel as special? Or to deal with winter, only to be rewarded with spring? There's clearly no right or wrong answer. I do know this: we miss your presence on these spring days very very much. When you lived in Brooklyn, you were always good for an impromptu glass of wine on a warm night, and that is a very important quality in a friendship. I expect no less from you when you come and visit.

  2. I feel so spring-like just reading your blog today. Daffodils were blooming last week only to be buried in snow! But this week the snow will be melting fast and the daffodils are back. A family of deer has been hanging out lately too. I now know what spring fever is!! Loved your pictures sweetie!

    1. Mommie, I can't believe you still have snow! Well, there's nothing like snow in April to give you your first taste of what spring fever feels like. When you sense that you're about to have a tantrum, that means winter is almost over. Can't wait to see pics of your daffodils and deer! How perfectly idyllic!