I began writing this two weeks ago when it was indeed March, but life has been busy and I'm just getting around to working on the post again. I love Blogger's draft facet. I've had to delete a couple things I wrote because the time has passed, but it is nice to find my words intact and waiting for me to finish.
March isn't my favorite month, and I can't quite put my finger on why. I love February, probably mostly because it is my birthday month, but also because the sunshine in that month is so dramatic, so bright on the white, white snow. It feels like the best of winter. In my memory most February days are sunny, while I'm certain that isn't the real truth. Even though spring began on the 20th at 12.15 pm my time, March doesn't feel like spring. Maybe if I lived where my heart lies in England, the daffodils and snowdrops would make me feel differently about the month, but there is no such flower here. The daylilies may be an inch out of the ground if it has been warmish, but that's the only green you will see.
But we do have the browns! You may remember Gladys writing about the autumn browns in the November entry. It is here, if you'd like to compare with how she describes the browns of March.
The wind, the wild brave wind, has carried off the last of the ice and snow. How wonderful the ground looks! The sharp sunlight falls like a blade on the meadow grasses, on the brown lawn, on the huckleberry bushes in the swamp. All the browns are distinct and beautiful, and why are they different from the browns of autumn? Perhaps the new life under the bark, under the root, makes them more glowing. Perhaps it is the quality of March light, keen as an etching tool.If you burn wood, you may be tempted to put the ashes/coals down on winter sidewalks. We tried it one year, and what a mess! It took ages for those ashes to go away and we tracked them in for months. Gladys also gave this idea a try.
The floors look grimy and the rugs give back a cindery crunch when you walk on them. All those ashes spread on the icy walk come right back in and lay a heavy, gritty film on everything.Gladys writes about the craziness of featuring summer clothes in the store windows while winter is still going on. This is something we shoppers still face today, even while shopping online rather than in stores. I've often found that if I don't buy that shirt at LL Bean's the minute I see it, they will be sold out before the proper season to wear it even arrives!
In the midst of snow and sleet and rain, the shops are showing summer clothes! It's getting so you can hardly buy anything to wear at the time you need it. In summer the nice warm woolens come out for next winter, and in mid-winter pastel sheers blossoms all over town! ... When I was a child, the shops faced the facts. In February the windows were still full of fleece-lined underwear and arctics. Then when the Wisconsin spring finally loosened the river ice and the logs boomed down again, out came the flowered prints.She naturally writes of spring cleaning. Do you do this? I don't believe I ever did. My mother was a demon cleaner. Her diaries are full of what she cleaned during the day. That would make a very minuscule entry in any diary of mine! Gladys seems to have been like my mother, but even more so.
House cleaning involves washing all the furniture with mild soap and water, and re-waxing with two thin coats of paste wax, well rubbed down. We like all our furniture finished with linseed oil and waxed.Roz Chast has the best cartoon about this subject. I cut it out and put it on the fridge.
I'm not a collector (unless you count buying books!), but Gladys helped me understand the minds of those who do collect things.
We have a dear friend who was suffering a great grief. She found herself in a desperate state, as we all do at times. So she sat down one day, after a sleepless night, and said, "Now look here, you have got to stop thinking only about this, and about yourself. It's time you did something." She had a short vacation from her job at the time, but family duties kept her confined to the city. "All right," she said, "I'll just collect something." So she spent her vacation wandering in little shops, and riding busses and street cars to remote second-hand stores, and going to the library to read about milk glass. Now she has a beautiful collection of glass; but more, she learned the value of a lively interest in some external things. "Whenever I got too low," she said, "I tried to match the blackberry creamer."
We didn't need to have our minds taken from anything personal at that moment, but we saw the milk glass she had, and it conquered. And now our own modest collection keeps us in a constant fever of excitement. There is really something amazing to collecting. Going into a dusty, grimy junk shop and seeing two one-o-one plates, for instance, just waiting to come home and be loved. Finding a blackberry egg cup in Roxbury and another just like it in Brooklyn.She might be writing the thoughts of everyone who has a garden when she says,
Jill and I order just a few more berry bushes, fruit trees, and roses; it isn't too late. Jill reads dreamily, "The fruit is sweet and juicy enough to eat when it is only half ripe. The catalogue says so. In the golden stage. Continue to eat and enjoy it until September, when the skin is rich maroon red and the flesh is tempting gold. ... remove one third to one half the fruit every year to keep trees from breaking down under the load of fruit." ... Just once I should like to see one tree on our land that had enough fruit to break down a branch. Or even to shatter a small twig. But I am always as hopeful as Jill. You never know when the seed catalogue's dream may come true. After all, we had three plums this year.My particular fruit dream is a raspberry bed like Tom's grandmother used to have. You could walk down the long rows and pick and pick and pick. I can still remember the taste and the size of those berries. I think I could live on them, if I only had a plot full.
I shall end this month's entry with a little video Tom took on St. Patrick's Day. In addition to the "wild, brave wind", you can hear the big wind chimes in the oak tree down the road and Nebby, the donkey.