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Winter bouquets (02/25/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns

Nature sends no formal invitations and expects no RSVPs. To enter its realm the land demands only two stipulations - that you respect each living organism as though they were your possessions, and to realize that you possess none of it.

On a gloomy, mild day in January, I took a walk down past the end of our street where the double rows of ancient trees border the Lewiston-Altura Elementary School grounds. This winter, in the beginning confused and hesitant, stalled like "I love you"¯ on frozen lips, has since turned a bitter cheek on Winona County. In summer it's always ten degrees cooler amidst these pines. The crunching carpet of rust pine needles and abundant pine cones makes strolling here seem more like clomping.

When Ally, my six-year-old granddaughter is with me, we collect treasures from the earth in plastic bags. Pine cones gilded with whitish sap and contorted dry leaves in autumn's designs are arranged in crockery bowls when we get back home. Today I didn't come here to gather the misshaped and the eye-catching.

Even though I spotted what I usually can't resist, I walked away from the two perfect pine cones attached to a fallen twig, a clump of green needles at one end lilting with fecundity. The holidays are well over. Natural household decorations won't move me again until the first breath of spring hits my face. Then the wildflowers, fern, wispy weeds, and pussy willows will escort me beyond a thawing arthritic back.

Potpourri must be enclosed in glass decanters in our home due to Pat's sensitive sinuses"¦no scents and no touching. There are two large metal coffee pots filled with dried bouquets, which I've hoarded away in downstairs rooms. As I get a glimpse of them, I never cease to admire their fetching harmony of metamorphosis.

Like thick hair through fingers trembling with lust, a clump of worked-up soil in spring's awakening moments trickles between flesh tingling with the warming promise of full-blown flowers, vegetables, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Every gardener longs to swoon over heady musk mingled with dew"¦to come alive again!

In winter, the once seasonably bright yellow daylilies, along the front of our home, resemble rosebuds, not for their corrugated shades of brown and ivory, but for their delicate shape. An unshakable habit, I snapped off a few to study and admire. It's a mystery that such fragile things aren't torn from their spindly, brittle stems during heavy winds.

I placed the dead flowers in a small ivory vase next to my recliner, where I've been reading Patrick Lane's "What the Stones Remember"¯. As I studied them, words like "filigree"¯ and "gossamer"¯ came to mind. Transparent and subtle "petals"¯ are so thin that designs like veins run through them.

Do I grant an unreasonable portion of praise on things so naturally fashioned as dried up daylilies? A bouquet of deep red rose blossoms spills into my longing for bare flesh against the hot sun. No swift dream lingers long without its prick of reality.

How long now before March's new moon will cast melancholy shadows through greening cemeteries?

I heard his pick-up pull into the garage! I pushed the brief jewels deep into the trash bag and rejoined poet Patrick Lane in his Vancouver Island garden, on his journey to detoxification from alcoholism.

"Hey, what's up?"¯ "Same old, same old,"¯ I answered. "Supper's on."¯

Disconnected, the interrupted writer is almost relieved. She deserts her baseless thoughts to partake of the evening ahead.

In its time, spring awakens with bright yellow blooms on green stems"¦gifts of fermented compost"¦ rich with deserted winter bouquets.

Could it be that the words winter could not unearth will blossom come spring?

Janet Burns has been a lifelong resident in the heart of Winona County. She can be reached at patandjanburns@earthlink.net 


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