“The country is broken, though hills and rivers remain…”

The other day it was 12 degrees here and I went out in a long-sleeved shirt to do some garden work. There aren’t flowers yet, though the small daffodils are in bud and the primulas are nearly blooming. Only a day or so, I thought, as I picked up fallen branches, pulled the mulch aside to see how the garlic was doing. There were even signs of life in the cucumber boxes, though not cucumbers; the miners lettuce I transplanted to one of the boxes is looking very green and bright and there are some little kale volunteers in the other one. In a week or two I’ll be cutting the miners lettuce for salad.

But this morning? Oh, it’s cold again. There were so many stars in the night that I should have known there’d be a frost this morning. So instead of looking for spring flowers in the garden, I’m finding them inside instead. Friends are coming for dinner tonight and I took out one of the linen tablecloths John’s grandmother made for his family after they’d emigrated to Canada. She was an amazing needlewoman, taking classes to learn new stitches and possibilities, and although some of the cloths we have are more sophisticated than this one, none of the others have this colour or exuberance.



There are also primroses stitched into the linen, and nasturtiums, lilacs, violets…

We’re having a spring dinner (sort of), with a Meyer lemon semifreddo for dessert, and we’ll be surrounded by flowers, lit by them too:

june's lamp

I was reading Du Fu this morning and was caught by this beautiful poem. Our country is a bit of a mess this morning, with the Gerald Stanley not-guilty decision causing terrible pain to so many, and the inter-provincial squabbles between B.C. and Alberta about the hazards of increasing bitumen delivery to our coast and Alberta’s embargo of our wines (their loss utterly). There’s solace in ancient poetry, which doesn’t lose its power over the centuries:

The country is broken, though hills and rivers remain,
In the city in spring, grass and trees are thick.
Moved by the moment, a flower’s splashed with tears,
Mourning parting, a bird startles the heart.
The beacon fires have joined for three months now,
Family letters are worth ten thousand pieces.
I scratch my head, its white hairs growing thinner,
And barely able now to hold a hairpin.

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