She skipped garden advice, told her own story

Sydney Craft Rozen, Impetuous Gardener

On Easter morning last year, I filled a vase with branches of yellow forsythia and set it on the dining room table. None of our family would be with us for dinner, because we were all following stay-at-home COVID-19 guidelines. But the forsythia was a bouquet of hope. Someday we would be together safely again, although none of us yet knew when “someday” would come. Instead of wandering through our silent house that afternoon, my husband, Lee, and I drove south from Moscow on a visit to Uniontown and St. Boniface, a historic brick church with twin spires, set on a hill. The church doors were locked on Easter Sunday, a poignant reminder of the new reality. We walked around the outside perimeter and looked up in awe at the intricate stained glass windows. On the nearby grounds of the former convent, I found a wooded grotto and said a prayer.

Now a year has passed. Flocks of birds chirp their spring songs as they flock to our feeders. Lee and I can easily recognize the regulars at the sunflower-seed cafe, but recently we saw some new visitors. The grosbeaks are always welcome, but the Cooper’s hawk is a predator. We were fascinated when Lee first spotted the handsome bird perched high in our apple tree. When I checked our guide to identify it, though, I learned that hawks prey on small birds, including pine siskins. These tiny brown, yellow and gray goofballs have no street smarts at all, and they swarm to our yard by the dozens, drawn by the spilled seeds on the ground. I shut the bird book, grabbed a dish towel and charged outside, flapping the cloth at the hawk and watching it soar away. Later that day, Benjamin BadKitten heard me report that hawks sometimes kidnap and eat small mammals, and he offered to fetch me the dish towel.

During the fierce windstorm last weekend, BBK sat on a footstool in our living room, batting at the window glass, where tiny snowflakes swirled outside. The next morning I stood on a crust of ice in our flower bed, gathering up fallen twigs and branches, and thinking about how quickly we’d lost the sun. Maybe the Garden Goddess was sending a warning. You thought the sky had cleared and the winter of despair was over, she seemed to whisper. You saw a false spring. A new season is coming, but not quite yet.

Her veiled message went deeper than a weather forecast. I zipped up my fleece jacket against sudden anxiety and went for a walk in the neighborhood, looking for signs of hope. Upside-down flower caps of lenten roses (hellebore) bloomed dusty pink; bright buttercups weaved through patches of purple, lavender and white crocuses, and beds of emerging tulips and daffodils promised a splashy show next month. Lee and I are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus now. Tomorrow we will share Easter dinner with our daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren. Besides baked ham, scalloped potatoes and apple pie, I will also bring a vase of forsythia. A new season is coming. After all these months of isolation, we are much closer to someday.

Sydney Craft Rozen’s planting season began this week with sweet pea seeds around the trellis and sugar snap peas in a raised bed. She hopes the Garden Goddess will shoo away any hovering snow clouds. Email her at scraftroze@aol.com

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