Saturday, February 27, 2010

Winter Melancholy

The strawberry grows underneath the nettle,
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
Neighboured by fruit of baser quality;
And so the Prince obscured his contemplation
Under the veil of wildness--which, no doubt,
Grew like the summer grass, fastest at night,
Unseen, yet crescive in his faculty.

Henry V Act 1. Scene 1. Line 61, when Ely refers to young King Henry's surprising abilities despite his wayward youth.

I woke up this morning to more snow on the ground and King Henry on the brain. Thursday, we endured the three-hour play after working all day; both of us exhausted, but bravely and studiously negotiating the difficult language of a Shakespearian play.

It was a bravo performance by the handsome actor Michael Hayden, who is playing both roles of King Henry and Richard II in repertory at Sidney Harman Hall. Earlier this winter, we watched the painful demise of the arrogant, but piteous Richard II, also a three-hour intellectual workout. (Jim is certain to be constructing now a mighty and rightful protest for when it comes time to anti up for next year's season tickets.)

We have now witnessed the powerful drama of the St. Crispin's Day Speech and felt the seductive surge of fierce loyalty to king and country.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Now emboldened, we band of brothers (sisters, too!) will follow our leader against all odds to win the day. The endless winter of 2010, though, plays dreary and weary in the headlines as my poor president battles his arch-enemies and can't help but come up short against their intemperate assault. (Shame on them. Let him do the work the voters put him in office to do.) Does the failed state that followed fast on the heals of Henry's glorious assault on Agincourt lie lurking?

"Tis, an unweeded garden."

And so to sunny spring and summer, I turn my thoughts. It is time now for tiny buds on the forsythia, shy flashes of muted purples and pinks from the Lenton rose, and breathtaking blooms of the early crocuses.

The three mara des bois strawberry plants that I ordered from White Flower Farm are going to go in my mother's clay pocket jar up on the deck. These produce a sweet and tasty tiny berry that only a gardener can know because they are so tender that they rarely endure the rough passage to market. And when the gutters came crashing down last week under the weight of heavy snow and ice, I determined to make an opportunity. When we rebuild we'll redirect our roof top water into a rain barrel, which I hope to install on the deck. From out my kitchen door, then, where the sun is so intense in the afternoons, I am going to create a kitchen garden with herbs, tomatoes and potted fruit trees. I'll replant my banana tree (which I hope survived with its roots wrapped warmly in the garage). A a fig tree and a lemon tree are on order. And the strawberry plants will join them. The problem of water reaching the upper deck and my lack of time in the morning to repeatedly carry jugs out to the plants is solved by the easy access to the rain barrel (which I might just simply fill with water to store it there too, if the runoff doesn't adequately meet the need).

But now sad and terrible news comes of the devastating earthquake in Chile and the tsunami headed for Hawaii. I think we need "a little touch of Harry in the night" to comfort us and prepare us now for this next battle. The Putterer


  1. Lovely post! And you have inspiring plans for the summer. Brooks and I spent the morning at Home Depot (potting soil, bulbs, chicken wire, etc.) so I know the season is coming.
    We're about three weeks behind you on Shakespeare, by the way -- we're going to RII on Friday and HV the next week.

  2. Thanks Laura. I just found the coolest looking rain barrels on Amazon. Very attractive. They look like terra cotta pottery pieces but they really plastic.