Not deferential enough: January thaw

Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2012 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: January thaw

by Gina Hamilton

The highs this week were in the fifties, and there was a definite taste of spring in the air. The lilacs are thinking about maybe budding, although the forsythia is smarter than that and is staying pretty quiet for now. Like so many seemingly wondrous things ... letters from Nigerian princes, Shaw's new sticker game, those Amish heating units ... it is a cruel hoax.  We will enjoy tee shirt weather for the next day or so, creating lakes in our front gardens and basements, and breathing the scent of new earth, and then winter will close down on us again, harder than ever.

That's okay.  It's a nice little reprieve, reminding us of why we stay here in the face of six months of bad weather, and keeping us ever hopeful for spring.  The Children's Librarian told me that she was watching six robins out her window today, cavorting on the gazebo.  Always a good sign.  "I buy a hyacinth right about now," she said.  "It reminds me that spring is possible."

A hyacinth would be a nice touch.  Soon enough I will be buying some spring flowers.  When I was a teenager and young adult, my granny used to send me five dollars in a card for my birthday, which happens in mid-February.  But she would always send it a week or two early, because she sent all the February cards on the first, so I'd usually have the card around the fourth of the month. "Buy yourself something you wouldn't buy for yourself normally," she always wrote.  As much as I loved to have flowers in my rooms, I knew that it was generally something I wouldn't spend my allowance ... or later, my meagre income on.  I had expenses back then that took precedence ... cat food, and cat litter, for instance, books, film, bus tickets, lab glass replacements owing to my clumsiness in the lab, and savings for travel, which was pretty important to me as a young person.  Back then, five bucks could just about get ten daffodils and a few irises, a sweet precursor to spring.  They'd sit on my bedside table, their spicy scent sending me off to sleep, their brightness the first thing I'd see in the morning.  They'd last a week or so ... I kept my rooms pretty cold ... and for some reason, the thaw usually seemed to coincide with my flowers and my birthday week, so reliably that I would dust off my roller skates and try to skate to the park on my birthday, having to dodge only a few piles of melting snow.

All too soon, winter would be back, and the skates would go back into the closet for another couple of months.  The flowers would wilt and die, and after my birthday, until I could filch a few lilacs from my neighbor's yard in April or May, my rooms would be flowerless. 

My grandmother died when I was 27.  Even now, I buy some spring flowers in her honor.  I consider it a gift from her, and if anyone asks, I tell them my granny sent them to me. 

I love getting flowers.  The way to my heart is to send me flowers for no apparent reason.  I usually get flowers from my son and heir, sometimes from friends, for my birthday now, and it is a very wonderful time.  Because my birthday fell so close to Valentine's Day, my friends, roommates, and later, my significant others, would often give me flowers and other little items for my birthday that were Valentine-y.  They could be bought in the local grocery or even the drug store, and since none of us had a car, this was an important consideration.  As a result, I had many pink and purple and red vases, cache pots with hearts on them, and red or pink hothouse roses, tulips, and miniature rose plants.  Sadly, I couldn't keep these little plants alive, and I still can't, but they are adorable while they last.  I have better luck with things like cyclamen, and I have many of these plants going at any given time. 

Because I love getting flowers, I often send them to friends and relatives.  I found an organization called "ProFlowers" that ships flowers via UPS.  Except for one experience, they have always arrived in good condition.  It's not as expensive as sending them by FTD or any service that delivers them already in the vase, either, and every few days I get a 20 percent coupon.  I usually get one just as I need one.

Once, I saved up and sent FTD roses to my grandmother ... a dozen yellow ones ... for her birthday, which was two days after mine.  It was an extravagant gift, one I really couldn't afford, but she hadn't been well, and I wanted her to have something special for what I thought might be her last birthday.  She had her picture taken with them and sent me the snapshot.  Her smile told the whole story.  She must have loved getting flowers as much as I did, and I'm sorry I didn't send them more often. 

This year, like every other year, I'll buy some irises and daffodils and thank my granny for her gift.  And maybe ... if the weather stays good ... I'll pull out my roller skates and slowly make my way down the street, just to say I did it.

blog comments powered by Disqus