The sadistic marketing department at Better Homes and Gardens delivered a garden magazine to Birdie yesterday. Two feet of snow and temperatures well below zero made browsing such a magazine exquisite torture for Birdie. Life in the Rocky Mountains served up long winters, so it wouldn’t be gardening weather until May. Because of this, the real-time calendar and Birdie’s internal calendar could get totally out of synch and cause Birdie the misery of hope deferred, so she had been keeping her internal calendar in check by sitting in front of the fire, reading books, writing, simmering soups and stews–all things that generate winter contentment.

The picture on the magazine’s cover showing raised beds full of herbs, a picket fence supporting rambling red roses, and the words Create Cottage Style caused a stab of longing for spring in Birdie not unlike the pain experienced when waiting for the phone to ring after a first date with your high school crush when you thought he’d surely call right away but he didn’t.

Birdie knew that falling into the magazine would be tantamount to falling off the wagon. She shouldn’t flirt with false spring. It was a cruel seduction. It would only open up longings impossible to fulfill. She knew all this as she ripped the plastic that encased the periodical. Sure enough, every article made her think she could smell the green of growing and every picture of blowsy gardens caused her to hear the buzzing of the honeybees, while the subtext taunted, “You are trapped indoors. (Evil laugh)” The people in the articles had turned hard clay soil into fertile loam, had brought in water features, and had transformed their former uninteresting lawns into enchanting garden rooms . They were wearing flowing skirts and broad brimmed sun hats. Their dogs and/or cats were being whimsical companions. Their spouses were sitting on wooden benches in shady bowers. It was all just too Gertrude Jekyll. It made Birdie ache.

The snow in Birdie’s yard that, just yesterday, had been sparkling was now drab. The icicles hanging from the eaves that had been crystal sun catchers were now looking more like prison bars across the windows. The cold temperatures that had been bracing were now “make-the-skin-on-the-back-of-your-neck-crawl” frigid. The enforced coziness in front of the wood stove was now just frustrating boredom laced with the craving to crumble friable soil with her bare hands. Birdie’s internal calendar had flipped from January to May.

Hmmm. Maybe the Burpee’s catalog will come today.

20130117-140336.jpg Birdie’s Winter Garden
This post was written for Alphabe-Thursday Letter I


8 responses »

  1. I love this! I too always start out winter with joy – I embrace the cozy indoor lifestyle. But eventually I long for sunshine and bright skies and all things summer! 🙂

  2. You will have an early Spring SOON… I’m so excited and cannot wait for you all to get here in SUNNY Hawaii. Yes, the rainy season is pretty much over now. This week has started the beautiful sight of sunny rays… Love you and Love the stories..

  3. Oh wow!

    I love your style of writing.

    And I love the sentiment you expressed here.

    I remember feeling that way back in Ohio. I’d pile up those glossy catalogs filled with plant porn and hoard them all to myself.

    Now I live in AZ I find myself doing the exact same thing with magazines showing fall and winter pictures!


    The complexity of human nature can be a bit irritating sometimes.

    Loved this post.

    Thank you for sharing it.


  4. This is wonderful writing, Birdie, especially this: “The icicles hanging from the eaves that had been crystal sun catchers were now looking more like prison bars across the windows. ”

    It’s almost April here, and we’re still scraping windshields and shoveling the driveway.

    • Thank you, Bronx Boy. Birdie went on vacation, but now that she is back, she needs to get back to writing. Your comment may be just the inspiration she needs. Thank you!

  5. You have expressed a universal longing to create beautiful surroundings in our outdoor homes we call the back yard. Garden magazines hone on these desires and trap us into their visions of heaven at home.

    Your article was beautifully written; I really enjoyed it.

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