March: In like a lion, I’d say. But, houseplants keep me sane.

You know that old proverb, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”

I suppose that’s especially true here in Ontario because March straddles winter and spring.

It tends to offer harsh or inclement weather, exactly like the kind of snow squalls we’re experiencing today.

This is what I’d call a lion! Unpleasant weather in the beginning of the month.

As the saying goes on to state, it’s then supposed to become milder and more palatable weather by the end of March.  I’ll believe it when I see it. 😉

In the meantime I’ve been fussing over my houseplants. I get to this point in winter where the season has lost its charm. The snow’s not pretty any longer, and I’m sick of shovelling.

More importantly, there’s too much of it on top of my garden, which makes me think I won’t be outside walking around barefoot anytime soon! Likely mid-May.

But back to the houseplants, I have more than many, and less than some.

When I closed my business I scaled back on the amount of greenery around the house, which is a good thing in hindsight, considering there’s only so many spots for plants, but I’m not above buying another, or accepting a cutting from a friend.

The plants I’ve kept are getting me through winter. Especially this winter!

They take my mind off of the pandemic and help to keep my focus on being a nurturer of sorts, instead of paying too much attention to things in the outside world that I cannot change.

Winter can be bleak and dark and monochromatic, which means I long for the greenery and lush scenery of spring and summer. Isn’t it just good for the soul to drink in nature? Winter means less drinking for us, but for plants, ironically it means more.

I take each of my plants to the sink. I water them until they can’t absorb another drop. That way the whole root ball gets a drink, meaning healthier plants. It takes a bit more time, but I’ve got that in spades right now til I’m back at work.

In winter, with the oil furnace blasting dry heat, I find plants dry out much more quickly than they do in the summer when there’s more humidity in the air.

The sun is also lower in the sky right now, so more sunlight comes in the windows, that is when the sun isn’t hiding behind snow-laden clouds.

Some of my larger plants like the amaryllis get a trip to the bathtub.

I give them a big drink and let them drain out so as not to have a mess on the table where they normally live.

That way too, I can mist the foliage and give them a chance to feel like they’re in their natural habitat once in a while, instead of my very dry winter house.

Though all the plants seem to thank me for the good care I offer as they continue to thrive in this completely alien environment in which they find themselves, some will even offer gratitude in the form of a flower. Then I know I’ve done right by them and enjoy the blooms of winter, which are possibly more precious than the perennial flowers whose blooms I’ve come to expect each year out in the garden.

I can’t imagine a house with out houseplants. Even just a pot of herbs for cooking. Basil will thrive in a bit of sunlight and you can pinch some to offer fresh flavour all year long.

And seriously, not having at least one plant would be akin to not having art on one’s walls! Boring, flat and without personality. Their life adds depth to ours. They help clean the air and offer a way to excercise our need to nurture something. 🙂

In closing, I’d love to hear about your houseplants.

I’m also happy to help with any questions on how yours can thrive too, if they happen to seem a little sad this time of year and you’re not sure what to do.

With the March lion out there today, I’m not surprised if some plants aren’t beside themselves jumping for joy. 😉 But this too shall pass… In the meantime, stay safe & warm, everyone.

Happy indoor gardening, for now!

 

February thoughts, folklore, Imbolc offerings, and social media.

Theo van Hoytema – February 1915
Public Domain

February! We’re one step closer to spring! 🙂

Like most gardeners, what usually gets me through any ‘normal’ winter involves plotting and planning the next steps in the yard, (divide and conquer), and thoughts of spring bulbs shooting up from the ground, even when they’re surrounded by pockets of snow hanging about on the lawn and in shadier nooks of the property.

February 1st marks the festival of Imbolc, or St. Brigid’s Day. It’s a celebration to mark the beginning of spring, a cause for celebration if ever there was!

Imbolc’s possible origin may come from the Old Irish word, imb-fholc, ‘to wash/cleanse oneself’, referring to a ritual cleansing.

Smithsonian American Art Museum, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Brigid, patroness of poetry, smithing, medicine, arts/crafts, cattle, and Spring, shares many mythological traits with St. Brigit of Ireland.

The saint, with the same name as the goddess is likely derived from the Proto-Celtic *Brigantī “high, exalted”, and they both share today with Imbolc, which generally speaking, is about a new year and new beginnings.

I thought about that ‘ritual cleansing’, today. I’ve considered how the past year has affected me, at least psychologically, and maybe what we all need right now is some sort of ritual cleansing, no matter how small the act, to rid ourselves of the negativity heaped on us all during the past few years, and especially 2020.

Like many people, the pandemic and the politics (of anger) have proved to be a major distraction against any ‘creativity’ with which I’d normally involve myself. That includes writing, photography, and making wee nature sculptures. Sure, I’ve made some little fairy houses and furniture, but I can’t seem to focus too long on any one activity.

I thought at first I may be experiencing some sort of depression or melancholy, and inhaling too much of the angst in this world has deprived me of the oxygen normally sustaining any creative pursuits.

Because of that, of late I’ve stopped watching the news so often. I don’t want to be ignorant of what’s going on, but I don’t think being obsessed by it has been helpful either.

The melancholy may in part be true, but winter affects me in general, but being aware of that now, I tend to get outside more often for fresh air and some excercise, which really helps. I’d love to hear how others are feeling affected by all of this, and how you’re coping with it. I’ve used art as therapy for most of my life, but have hardly posted anything here of note in the past 6 months, with writer’s block seeming to win the day everytime I sit down and try to type.

I’ve felt many flashes of inspiration, when the snow is falling, or when I see a bird or animal, or find an interesting bit of history I’d like to share, but when it comes down to putting thoughts into words, along with any photos, garden related or not, everything I want to post about seems so trivial and unimportant when I consider what’s going on in the world now; how so many people are suffering.

So instead I’ve been sitting on my hands.

Even though I’m an introvert, I really like people and set out to understand what makes them tick.

I love to read about people, especially artists and writers from the early to mid 20th century, but I’ve never been one who requires people around me all the time like some extroverts might.

Perhaps because I have so much going on in my head, which has in the past, energized my creative bents, I don’t have that need, and find parties and big social affairs draining. After all, my studio is called Wall Flower Studio!

I’m totally freaked out by Covid19. I only go out if I have to, which means the bank, the grocery store, gas (not so often because I’m home so much), and when out, I do everthing I can, (while trying not to appear rude) to stay at least six feet away from people. This can be challenging however when others seem oblivious to the danger Covid poses, or are perhaps they’re handling the pandemic by ignoring its existance altogether… I’m not judge, jury or hangman, but will continue to keep my distance whenever possible.

Eduard Marmet, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

But, even I have my limits with all of this homebody business. I can’t wait to go on a trip to anywhere, or to a big, loud, busy shopping mall & spend some money, buy a new pair of shoes, and do some serious people watching.

Until then, I’ll continue to (happily for the most part), read and research the many topics of interest I’ve been digesting for the book(s) I’ve been trying to work on during the past few years.. I”ll get there eventually!

Perhaps the reason I’ve been finding it difficult to write, and address my feelings about the past year, and overcome them, is in part because I, (like many of you) feel powerless to do anything of value that might bring about positive change, especially under lockdown conditions.

I certainly don’t mean to depress anyone. I’m just happy that this is all finally spilling out of me after months of trying to pin down the exact feelings on how I’ve been handling events beyond my control, which truth be told, is something I’ve never been good at..

I suppose supressed feelings, along with a side order of inaction, are my best defense, with the addition of browsing the interent, baking cookies, shovelling snow or cleaning my house, which by the way is immaculate right now, and yet nobody can come over and see.  😉

However, in a  strange way, what’s really helped take my mind of the pandemic, (as long as I avoid political/pandemic posts), is Twitter.

I’m on the fence about social media, ( and somedays I want to dump Facebook especially), and in a postive way it brings people & ideas together who might otherwise never find one another. But in the same vein, it’s proving to have a destructive side, too.

I’m appalled at the misinformation & far-out conspiracy theories people are engaging in and accepting as fact; ones that harm and erode democracy around the world. Or the people who justify their hate and ignorance while participating in racially motivated entitlement and violent acts against others like it’s was some sort of religious rite.

I’m also ambivalent about social media. I see people sharing way too much personal information, which goes against privacy concerns I have about how all of our information is extracted and used.

But, having said all this, I do think in some way Twitter has helped me continue to dabble in writing during a time where I’ve felt it difficult to even post Happy New Year on my blog, (which I do retroactively wish all of you!) I might not think this of Twitter down the road, but for now, it’s been a positive outlet at this time.

Every day thousands of people join forces on Twitter behind different #hashtags. (I’ve explained the purpose of hashtags in a previous post, so I won’t get into that, but suffice to say, it’s a way for people to share common ground, artistic ideas and interesting bits information.)

In a sense, my whole week is built on these hashtags. Here’s a sample of some I’ve come to look forward to:

#MythologyMonday, #FairytaleTuesday, #WyrdWednesday, #FolkloreThursday, #FaustianFriday, #SuperstitionSaturday, #Caturday, and #ShakespeareSunday.

Each hashtag is self-explantory, but to make them even more interesting, every week involves a different theme on those hashtags. One can share tidbits about a theme with like-minds and learn from others on topics that interest them, too. For example, #MythologyMonday might be about horses one week and Witches or Norse goddesses the next.

Sometimes I’m keen to share a line or two on the subject matter I’m familiar with; one that will fit in the box of characters allowed by Twitter. Other times I have to investigate and research the daily theme, which means spending time locating a quote, picture or painting, (in the public domain), that fits with the subject matter of that day.

One might say this Twitter excercise is completely shallow and an effort to practice avoidance of the outside world, but I think of it as an enjoyable practice and perhaps a bit of self-presevation in defiance of the world we’re all living in right now.

I’m glad to have spurted all of this out. I feel better for having written at all to be honest, like it was some sort of ritual cleansing. To put my thoughts out there and just accept them for what the are at this moment in time is an act of cleansing. And really, isn’t that a big part of any art? To convey and communicate ideas that one may be feeling/thinking/experiencing?

So, if you made it this far, I thank you! If, like me you feel a need  for a writing outlet that’s not too suffocating or overly taxing at the moment, wander on over to Twitter and find a hashtag or two that suits your interests!

I’m looking forward to better times for us all and do know they’re coming, along with more progress with my book, and spring flowers in the garden.

Hang in there everyone. The prize will be all that more sweet once it actually arrives. There are better days ahead.. Be well & stay safe!