Monday, April 21, 2014


We're standing in line at the grocery store. A quick trip -- to tide us over until my soon to be resumed weekly (Friday) shopping routine. I show Ed the rack of cards behind the cashier.
That's where you would pick up a birthday card, were you buying one for someone. (Well, probably Whole Foods would be the last place I'd send him to buy a card. You can buy groceries for a family of five for what they charge for cards there. Still, it's a hint. Why I do this to him is beyond me. I guess it's because Ed is the least card-buying person on the planet and so to get a card from him would be ...significant.)

Do you really want a card? -- he asks me now.
Only if you want to give one.
He hesitates.
I reassure -- I wont be mad if you don't.
He knows I will love it if he does. And so as I put out the groceries on the conveyor belt, he flips through cards. They're not very emotive. You pay a fortune for a card that basically says Happy Birthday. I see the absurdity of this and I tell him -- no, forget it. But thank you anyway!

He perseveres.


And this is how I have a very special card and I can't believe that it matters to me -- you can laugh your head off, I wouldn't blame you, but, like the celebrations with my girls, like wishes that appear in an email, comment or in a card, it all feels so incredibly sweet and so very special!

The day began as a chicken day must begin -- with letting them out, with cleaning the coop, with watching the sun mount above the horizon.


It is a warm day. A very warm day! Close to 70F again. And it comes with showers. On and off, in a very April showers way, but warm. As if we were beginning summer.


And so, for the first time this year, we take our breakfast to the porch. That warm moist air, the blooming daffodils -- how can you not feel happy?


When the showers pause, Ed and I haul our newly purchased quince trees and plant them near the end of the old orchard, just as the driveway meets the road.

(Ed: next time, go about your business and I'll take a better shot)

The chickens help.

(skinny when wet from the rain; Ed says they have dinosaur claws)

The relations between the hens are improving, or at least settling with every hour. Still, sometimes I look at Scotch and think -- you want to preen and puff with the girls, don't you?


I pick her up, give her a cuddle and tell her that someday, she'll be queen and the world will be pandering to her whims. I feel then like a parent who hangs every piece of her kid's art on the refrigerator and says Monet could not do better.


Quince is an unusual fruit to put into your garden, but I am quite taken with the idea of quince preserves and, too, a quince infusion (an old family recipe that I tasted when in Poland this last month). And, too, quince blossoms will compete with any of the fruit trees. Now, we've been so unsuccessful in our new orchard expansion (we just don't protect the apple, pear and cherry trees enough and so the deer inevitably destroy a good portion of them) that you'd think I'd give up on fruit trees. Nope, not giving up yet. In went the quince trees.

And then it is time for the errands. Trivial ones (library). Fun ones (chocolatier, so that Ed can also hand me these chocolates, which we promptly open and try while still in the car. Yum.)


Standard ones (grocery store).  Exciting ones (Jung Greenhouse, to check out their annuals). Boring ones (Home Depot to return steel rods,  gas station).

The chickens wait patently for us at the farmette. And yes, they attack the flowers I brought out today.


And I do not freak out. I'm hoping it's a passing phase. That once the garden blooms, they lose interest in the vast bulk of my growing things.

Evening. The sun comes out now from behind the clouds. It always seems to come out on late April days. We are to go out to dinner, but can't quite tear ourselves away from being outdoors. I finish a conversation with a daughter, with my other one, with my mom. And still the sun lingers.


We load flower pots with soil and bring them to the courtyard. I begin filling them with spring annuals -- ones that wont get hysterical on me if the temperature dips below freezing some spring night.


And finally, it becomes too late to do much of anything. The chickens are slowly retreating toward the pen. Ed and I leave our various tasks and, without fuss or change of attire, we go out to get a meal at our local Italian place. It lacks intimacy. It lacks subtlety. But it's nearby and it feels somehow right to go local. Simple foods. Wonderful evening. Wonderful day.

Some days, I wish I didn't love my birthday this much. It seems so.. well, selfish to celebrate your own birth. And still, each year it brings out in me a whole string of smiles. Maybe it's the season. Maybe it's the affirmed connection to everything that's important. Maybe it's the yellow tulips....


Yeah, that's it. Spring. Tulips. Nothing more than that.