The temperatures make their great climb up and down between 35° and 65° in these early days of California spring. One, two, three, four daffodils bloom in the garden with two more on the way. I clip and cut and take the first of spring’s beauty indoors, displacing the winter decor, forgetting the calendar, the fireplace, and whatever thoughts remained of observing winter traditions any longer. With the tall bearded iris Halloween Halo making her debuting the garden, who can focus any longer on the meditative silence of winter?
Out come the seed trays.
I dust off my flower stand, open a graph paper notebook of and cover my office desk with seed packets, sliding the typewriter aside to make more space. Lunch break lasts a little longer as I order garden replacements seed starting supplies. My husband and I walk the field estimating where to put the overflowing abundance, now that the backyard is nearly full of perennials and dahlias.
With a proper plan, nearly 75 new varieties will find a home, hopefully with multiples of each. Of particular interest are those inclined to resist the plagues of our soil and the general atmosphere and thrive under the sun, wrapped in its heat, thriving in sandy soil and meager water.
More visions of spring come into view as the skies clear, revealing the pure blue we see only this time of year before the fires start. The earth still retains evidence of the last rainfall or wet, foggy morning.
Lunar New Year begins February 1.
We celebrate with my grandmother who arrived here from China on Christmas Eve when the Communists took over in 1949. This year we’re exploring recipes from TheWoksofLife.com, a website we found while watching “Family Dinner” on the Magnolia Network.
Valentine’s Day falls, as ever, on February 14.
This holiday, once a romantic fete for us, has made itself over as a day for children to show their love and affection to others with cute cards, conversation hearts and lollipops. Often I make the cards on Canva.com download, print and cut them myself, rather than buy something store-bought or spend hours crafting individually.
A deep dive into Lent must be preceded by festively partaking in Marti Gras, also called Fat Tuesday.
It needn’t be raucous, but a time to lay in the merriment with a King Cake, beads, masks, and New Orleans Jazz. We recommend the album “Save my Soul” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy for that one. Happily, Spotify makes exploring new music easier than ever.
And then Lent begins.
For something new, I purchased “sacrifice beads” from StTheresesArtShop on Etsy. It’s an old practice St. Therese of Lisieux describes in which children can use a string of beads to count their good deeds or sacrifices. In the past, we’ve also set out a jar they can fill with beans whenever they make some sacrifice or good deed. The beans transform to jelly beans on Easter morning as a sign of how our small, but good deeds are transformed into something lovely by God.
Lent gives way to Easter in all its jubilant celebration.
Easter baskets, egg hunts, hymns, lilies and a grand feast follow accordingly.
All these give special focus to the season in its time.
Our memories grow stronger as we return year after year to these traditions. The children remember the years before and anticipate the years to come.
In the unexpected warmth of a January sun, I anticipate, I plan, I prepare. The winter books give way to Chinese legends and books about the New Year; the mantle gives way to vases and lively spring colors; and instead of looking back, I look ahead