May 23, 2010

Not My Mother's May

Waiting for Warmer Weather

So, the keepers of meteorological records and other arcana say April was the warmest on record, globally, and yet we in the Portland, Oregon area experienced the coldest April on record, and there was measurable rain on all but four or five days. The wind has been from the north, northwest for weeks smelling of moose and muskeg and seems as cold as a triple dose of menthol. After an hour or two outside I feel inclined to look for facial cuts. Looks as if T. S Eliot was right. Now it is May 22nd and I can detect little or no difference from April, regarding the weather. I have to admit the garden is quite green, though damp, and many plants seem to be languishing, twiddling their roots to pass the time as they wait for a splash of sunshine to start photosynthesis again. This is not the magical May I remember.

My mother's May was filled with sunlight, nodding flowers, winging, singing thrush and wrens chattering in the hedgerows. Once in a while magnificent white cumulus clouds would drift across the blue sky and bless us with a short refreshing shower. May was a time for tea outdoors, sipped beneath the budding canopy of a flowering tree, shrub or rose. There were pleasant riverside walks to search for frogs, dragon and damsel flies, water striders, and denizens of the grassy riverbank, though I never encountered Ratty or Mole, and never glimpsed a frog or toad dressed in a waistcoat. Perhaps, as we neared town, we would stop for an ice-cream cone at a gaily painted bank-side wagon, then stroll home through ferns and freshly-leafed trees to the sound of older boys playing cricket or soccer on the green that bordered the wood. There were fresh peas to be filched and eaten while crouched between the vegetable rows in the communal garden up the street. (My peas, alas, are only a few inches high) I wonder if the gardeners whom I luckily never encountered, ever wondered about the yield from some of their plants?

It was usually pleasant most of May, as it should be, not drear and drippy day after day after day like this. [In my garden people come and go, talking of rain, and wind, and even snow.] I am anxious to mothball my parka and wool garments for the year and walk about in cotton shorts and sandals. I suppose I can whine on until June and continue to make the best of it.

May 23: Woke to 40 degrees and rain: must be time to plant tomatoes.

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