Saturday, March 07, 2009

Go Outside and Play!

Sometimes, you just have to stop for a bit. I spent three hours this morning trying to write a blog entry, basically a rant on the idiocy of people that expect the customer service of a Fortune 500 company from a 1-person fiber microbusiness, but to no avail--all I was doing was making myself angry and incoherent. Angry, I don't mind, but incoherent is itself annoying. I could hear that internal voice stating firmly, "Step away from the computer. Go outside and play." So I obeyed.

Lo and behold, there was a lovely day outside! Winter in Northern California never ceases to amaze me. I grew up in Southern California, where "winter" is an occasional gray, rainy day with temperatures in the low '60s. Here in the Bay Area, winter is an actual season. I have a reason to own multiple sets of gloves, mittens, wristies, scarves, and hats, along with several different coats. I even have two umbrellas! Winter in the Bay Area means (usually) a lot of very cold rain and going days--sometimes weeks--without seeing the sun. I kid you not--one year (1998) we had measurable rain every single day January. Newspapers reported sheep turning green as the VM in their wool sprouted. Winter seems to last forever here; then the weather pattern changes, the rain goes away, and everyone is startled by the beautiful Northern California in late winter. The sky is a very blue blue, studded with cottony white clouds sailing above emerald green hills. Everything looks freshly scrubbed. The air warms in the sun, and a gentle breezes carries the unmistakable scent of orange blossoms.

Right now the yard is, quite frankly, a mess. Not much grows until the rains start, and once they start, it's impossible to do any gardening. As a result, I let everything go until most of the winter rains are done, and our first big yard clean-up takes place in late March or early April. Today I just wandered around to see what was happening. The daffodils I planted 18 months ago have naturalized, and are poking up through the oxalis, trying to be brave in spite of being beaten down by the heavy rains. The deep purple early irises, originally confused by some very late warm weather in December, have recovered and are beginning to bloom, letting me know that the other irises will follow along eventually. My much-worried-over Kaffir lily is finally pot-bound enough to attempt a bloom this year, while the tiny pine tree--a Christmas gift from a fellow teacher two Christmases ago--is tiny no more, but now a small shrub.

I can't simply look, admire, and plan--before I knew it, I was pulling a weed here, or a misplaced bit of crab grass there. I checked on the kitchen herbs and found, to my delight, that the thyme thrived over the winter, and the oregano turned into a dense velvety mat in its pot. I weeded the herbs and other potted plants, checked on how a few other plants fared, and finally stopped to marvel at the Tuscan rosemary on the patio. After 4 years, it has become a large shrub, covered in tiny blue flowers. A gentle hum rose from it, as dozens of bees circled around it, finding fresh flowers to sample. Above it, the plum tree hosted its own white and green buffet for the bees in the hope that the magic of pollination would result in fertilization and eventually plums.

After an hour puttering about in the garden, a bit of clean-up is done, and I'm feeling charitable once more. Sometimes, the best solution to a problem is to go outside and play!