Springtime! Plants!

Bedding plants at a local hardware store. The “pillows” are bags of potting soil.

Do you have bedding plants yet? I didn’t buy any plants from this store, but I bought some at a nearby superstore.

All I have is a small balcony, but I want to fill it with leafy plants and flowers. Online I see photos of Italian house window boxes and apartment building balconies, overflowing with plants and I get envious. The exuberance of these window boxes is bright and cheerful. I suspect my balcony is the only one in the entire complex that’s loaded with flower pots. All the balconies here face the back and there is no car access. I haven’t walked around back to see if other people have balcony gardens. But I’ve driven past other complexes and have seen only one plant decorated balcony. Why don’t more of us do this?

Here are a few of my bedding plants.

I love that geraniums bloom all summer.
I’ve never seen this color petunia before. Petunias are humble little plants, but they’re cheerful and lovely and bloom all summer. I hope this beauty will attract hummingbirds.
These are bacopa. They’re pretty little trailing plants, they grow enthusiastically and also bloom all summer. They share a planter with my petunias.
The color of this petunia matches the edges of the magenta flower. I love the coral pink.
Occupants of another container.

This is a new variety of trailing pansy, called Cold Wave. When I bought them I didn’t know they were trailing pansies. I’d never heard of such a thing. Me see pansies. Me want. Me have money. Me buy. I didn’t even look at the label. As the name implies, Cold Wave pansies grow in cold weather. I’m not sure I’d have bought them if I’d known. I want my flowers to bloom all summer. I hope these dear little things survive in warmer weather. Fortunately, around here summers tend to be pretty cool, so I hope these babies will be happy come July and August. The long-range weather forecast is for a cooler and rainier summer this year.

Flowers From Other Years:

I’m hoping for a plethora of petunias this year, too. This photo was taken in mid-summer.
Don’t these coleus leaves look like velvet?

If you haven’t bought plants yet, it’s not too late. It was late spring when I bought this coleus. It was a leggy plant with only a few leaves on a long stem. No one at the superstore’s garden center had bothered much with the plants that had been left behind–end of season, new stuff to sell. After a few weeks on my balcony, with plenty of sun, water, and a bit of fertilizer, this is what the skinny coleus turned into.

There are four empty pots on my balcony (and eight occupied ones) I’m going to have to go to a garden center and buy a few more flowers. Pots should not be allowed to sit around empty. I need flowers. It makes me happy to see little blossom faces peering over the rim of their container. The blinds in front of the slider are always open, so I can see my “pets” anytime of day or night. I like to sit on my balcony among my plants, have a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy their beauty. There’s a bit of Italian somewhere in me.

National Poetry Month

No kidding, April has been National Poetry Month since 1996, organized by the Academy of American Poets to raise awareness of poetry.

In honor of National Poetry Month and spring, which is almost two months old, I’m sharing one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, e. e. cummings. I’ve loved his work since I was introduced to it in high school.

I think this poem captures the spirit of spring in a unique and delightful way.

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
when the world is puddle-wonderful
the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
balloonMan whistles


Meteņi: Good-bye Winter! Hello Spring!

A Latvian Celebration

Winter is on its way out. Spring is on its way in. Sledding and traveling by horse drawn sleigh are a big part of the festival.

Latvians work hard, but they also play hard and celebrate often. Just as they’ve finished celebrating Christmas and the New Year, they’re looking forward to the end of winter and the arrival of spring. Meteņudiena (diena = day) is the day that marks the halfway point between Christmas and Easter, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the spring equinox. The longer Meteņi is celebrated, the better the harvest the following summer. 

Many traditions, rituals, and beliefs are associated with Meteņi. Too many for me to describe here. Each region, district and village has its own rituals and customs.

Like Fat Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day, Meteņi is a time of feasting. A boar’s head with fritters is the traditional main dish for the celebration. Gobble. Eat and drink till you’re sated.

Like all festive days associated with the sun–the spring and autumn equinoxes and the winter and summer solstices meteņi is a fire festival. Bonfires are lit at night to symbolize days growing longer, with more light. People sing and dance around the fires. Straw effigies are rolled down a hill and then set on fire to burn winter away. 

Fire festivals are ancient traditions in many cultures.

 Meteņi is a fertility festival, as are all the fire festivals. Bounty and fertility for people, crops, and animals are vital for agrarian communities.

One fertility ritual is for young brides to be spanked with “switches of life.”

Mumming is a tradition during all winter festivals. It’s kind of like Halloween, except it’s the adults who dress in costumes–fur-lined coats turned inside out, topped off with straw hats and masks. Dressing up in costumes is a fertility ritual for men.  Mummers visit neighboring homesteads where they sing, dance, and play music. The mummers must be feted with food and drink.

Latvians have thousands of folk songs. Some are specific to Meteņi with refrains of repeated words of power. 

Meteņi is the last of the mumming occasions. Once spring arrives folks will be too busy working to go around in costume

An example of Meteņu rituals by the folk group, Auļi. I can watch this video over and over.

Portrait of a Tulip

Grace and Elegance

This beauty comes from the tiny container garden on my balcony. I’m in love with this blossom. Other than liking them no more or no less than other flowers, I never much thought about tulips. Then a friend told me that tulips were her favorite flowers. Her comment caused me to take a closer look to figure out why. Compared to other, flashier, showier flowers, like peonies and dahlias, tulips, unless they’re parrot tulips, seem almost plain. They’re not. They’re graceful and elegant in their simplicity. Even when they bow their heads, they’re lovely.

Same Flower

The closer you get, the more intense the color. That’s how it is with people, too, isn’t it?

These blossoms are almost too beautiful for words. They’re ethereal and will slip away all too soon. That makes them all the more precious. That’s why I had to photograph this beauty and share it on my blog. Soon these pictures will be all that I have left of this flower.

Heart of a Tulip

Once you get close to someone you can see into their heart. This is the same flower. The only difference is the lighting and the location. The inside of the petal really is more intense in color than the outside. Many of us hide our intensity from the outside world.

Am I a Georgia O’Keeffe wanna be, except with a camera, instead of a paintbrush? I’ve loved her work for many years now. I love her sensuous, intimate portraits of flowers. I even love her barren landscapes and steer skulls. She shows them to us in a way we’ve never though to look at them before. I wish I could paint like she did. I want to live to a dynamic old age, with a beautiful, lined face like hers. I’d rather not slip away like flowers, but I suppose I will.

Come closer, look into the heart.

Here’s a link to the O’Keeffe Museum https://www.okeeffemuseum.org