Winter returned, just for a day. One heavy, wet snowfall and twelve hours of slicing wind served to remind us that this is the North Country. I suppose we might have forgotten, so mild was winter and so lovely this spring. We might have been swayed into believing, for a moment or two, that we live in an easy place of blossoms and blooms. But, no.
Early this morning I went out to survey the damage. Small mounds of snow still lay in shady spots, placed like stepping stones in the garden. The purple azalea was almost bare, surrounding mulch littered with delicate blossoms. The creeping phlox was wilted, thin stems a sickly green, blooms flattened. The storm didn’t last long but the damage was done.
My garden girl looked on, nonplussed. She’s seen everything. She knows that it was just a blip on the radar, this storm. And that the soil needed a deep drink. And though blooms have suffered, roots are strong. Plants will survive, perhaps hardier for the experience, to blossom again next season.
Sometimes I forget about the bigger picture in the cycle of seasons. Bright blossoms this season matter less than the longevity of the plant and amount of fruit born over time. Storms will come and storms will go. Sometimes they hit hard and, for awhile, their impact is too obvious. But the greater test is measured by steady growth, day in and day out, season by season.
Indeed, there is plenty of evidence of growth in progress, though the cold will linger awhile. My Japanese cherry trees are bulging with buds, bearing abundantly twenty-some years after a mother’s day planting. Kim’s astilbe and Kelly’s bleeding hearts are coming ’round! Grandma Lucia’s peonies are fleshing out into foliage, setting up for sturdy stems to bear the weight of bountiful blooms, bigger than my hand. Mini-lilacs planted in memory of my dad are filling out nicely. Irises, lilies, and lupine are standing strong. We’re moving on, my garden and I.