Sunday, April 4, 2010

After the Flood


We had a new season this year – flood month. The Great Spring Flood of 2010 came March 13 to15. We struggled through the rain to go to a Sunday afternoon concert in Boston, walking the rain-splattered streets and thinking that wearing wet clothes was the worst of it. We came back to find six inches of water in the basement. We spend a week clearing soaked stuff out of the basement.
I lay the pages of damp photo albums on newspaper on the living room floor in a flood reclamation project that is still going on by fits and starts. I worry about sorting through the hundreds of pics from our Lebanon trip to get them in some condition to share with friends. I suffer from a stomach bug for weeks, watching what I eat (a rarity for me) and husbanding my energy for work.
I try to love the spring.
The day after the rain finally stops, the sun comes out, the temperature warms, and spring fever breaks out in the Massachusetts masses. Shortsleeves; shorts. Smiles. Our crocuses break through the brown leaf and muck crust, but the back garden – my daily companion because I stare at it, at least a sliver of it, from my desk – still looks like the Lower Ninth Ward after Katrina.
So I’m still not in tune with the universe, and am disappointed with myself because early spring has been a favorite part of the garden experience in other years. Because it changes every day.
This week we wrap up our second major rain event (less dramatically for us, thank-you weather gods) and when the sun comes out on Thursday peace and harmony once more rule the land. Anne’s parents and I step outdoors for a walk at Wollaston Beach. They’ve been unable to go home to New York City for two days because the rain washed out the train tracks in Rhode Island. (Oh, did I forget to mention that other little change the flood season made in our schedule?)
As we go to the car, I glance at a little spot of bare earth in front of the 50-year rhododendron bush and see the round hats of the first violet leaves emerging. The leaves are actually heart-shaped, but when small and newly out of the ground they look round – little green mouths drinking up the sun. They were not there – nothing was there – the last time I looked at this spot last – if not the day before, no more than two or three. And here they are.
This is what I have been missing.
Other plants are up, of course. The crocuses have already blown and dropped. The lavender is drawing the color back into its leaves. Sedum leaves look green and plump already. But I had forgotten about that bare piece of ground where I introduced the violets a year or two ago: violets, this is ground. Ground, violets.
The things you forget about in order, so it seems, to discover them again. That’s the best part of spring.