Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eel

 "The Interpreter of Silences" by Jean McNeil is a novel set in a small coastal village in Cape Breton.  The story is full of eels, a fish that serves as a metaphor for the life of central character Eve.  From the opening paragraph of the book eels are featured, en masse, swimming in a migratory pattern that takes them from their birthplace in the Sargasso Sea to the shores of Nova Scotia and back again.

"For months they are only scraps of transparent gelatinous flesh, no bigger than a thumbnail.  They float, thickening, until they resemble tiny chevrons.  By the time they reach the island they have lengthened and look like thin hairs dotted on the ends with two tiny black eyes.  This is the first of several mutations: throughout their lives they will change colour and shape several times, even the composition of their blood."  

"They will arrive and leave at night, entering the island's salt lakes through a bight, wrung in the currents that swirl around the stanchions of the Seal Island Bridge.  They taste the sudden drop in salinity and know they are home.  Although they have never seen this before, there is also something familiar about the single halogen light and the two concrete fingers pointing into the lake in a V, the coal-black water, the shattered hulk of a ruined ferry."

"She is standing on the shore beside the ferry with her father.  He is pointing southeast, in the direction of the Sargasso Sea.  She is twelve years old and her father is explaining that the eels will return there to die.  In his voice is the rough note of satisfaction produced by inevitable truths.  Less than you might imagine separates him or her from these creatures, he says; like them we will return to the nowhere from which we came.  There we will start again.  We are on a loop, he tells her.  Time is repeating itself endlessly, we are repeating ourselves." 



Continuity - eels are a good representative for that. It's not only their snake-like shape suggesting the image of Ouroboros, or the perfect circle of a life cycle made up of instinctive departure and return.   It's tradition in our household;  no New Year's eve celebration would be complete without smoked eel on the table.

My husband Robert has fond memories of "gerookte paling" served on slices of rye bread in his native home, the Netherlands.  The custom is shared by many European countries and seems appropriate fare for a night that heralds the end of the old calendar year, and the beginning of the new.  Perhaps the custom derives from Christian iconography.   After restoration of the work, art historians confirmed that a plate of eel is depicted on the table in Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper."


Leonardo da Vinci, "Last Supper" detail of plate with sliced eel

In the pioneer days of New Brunswick, eels provided a nutritious year-round food for Mi'kmaq and Acadians.  August to November was prime time for downstream runs of mature eels to the ocean, and spring brought the small elvers upriver.  During the winter months, eels could be harvested through the ice with a rake-like spear that pulled the fish from the muddy river bottom.   Mi'kmaq performed a ritual at the end of January called "grandfather feeding" or "apuknajit." By leaving eel heads and skins on a tree stump, natives offered gratitude to their ancestors for helping them to survive the harshest part of winter.

Tonight we'll eat eel for the last supper of the year and give thanks for our survival.  The loop continues...
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Grave Matters

Across from the church in Cap-Pele lies the Sainte-Therese-d'Avila Cemetery, a park-like setting where a central tree-lined pathway leads to a monumental calvary.   This is the final resting place for many Acadians whose lives relate directly to the history of the village; pioneers, priests, fishermen, farmers and their relatives.  The surnames etched on stone markers are as familiar to those who live in the community today as they were to residents of the region in 1842, when a plot of land was ceded to the Catholic church by the Leblanc and Cormier families for use as a graveyard.  Situated in the heart of Acadie,  it's a significant historic resource and a sacred place.

Sainte-Therese-d'Avila Cemetery, Cap-Pele

The NB government has a register of historic places, and this cemetery is listed in their files.  The notes supporting historic designation of the site mention the graves of prominent local figures, the unique symbolism and style of certain gravestones and the variety of mature trees.

In November, when I took a walk through the cemetery to honour the Day of the Dead,  I was shocked to find that many of the old tombstones were freshly painted.  Coats of white paint topped with flashes of garish colour had transformed the character of the cemetery from historic landmark to Disney-esque stage set.  How had this happened?







A well-meaning but misguided village resident had decided to "spruce up" the cemetery during the summer months.  She sought and was granted permission for the project from the church caretaker, received a donation of enamel paint from the hardware store and recruited a team of volunteers to help out.  Unfortunately, she neglected to do any research regarding acceptable methodology for tombstone restoration.  Any conservator would have advised her to put away the scrub and paint brushes and leave well enough alone.   Minimal intervention is often the best approach.

The professional restoration experts emphasize that stone needs to breathe and should not be sealed with paint or epoxy.  Treatments that seal the stone actually promote deterioration, as moisture laden with minerals and salts migrates to the surface and cannot escape.  Eventually the stone becomes structurally weakened and collapses.  "Surface failure" is the term used to describe an irreparable, crumbling mess.

What took place in the local cemetery is tantamount to vandalism, but no one seems to acknowledge the fact that permanent damage was done - unwittingly, to be sure - by a group that had no business even attempting the task.  Indeed, the initiative of the amateur painter was applauded by church and community and received media coverage on CTV Atlantic.   

The Canadian designation of historic places does not go far enough to legally protect important spots from inappropriate alteration or demolition.  The general standards for preservation, rehabilitation and restoration listed on the Historic Places website start with a basic rule of thumb:  

"1. Conserve the heritage value of a place.  Do not remove or substantially alter its intact or repairable character-defining elements. "



A "before" photo from November, 2013




Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Twelve things to remember

Marshall Field (1834-1906)
With "The Twelve Days of Christmas" playing on the radio and the season of excessive consumer spending well underway, it seems appropriate to turn to the words of one of the all-time great U.S. department store pioneers for advice.  Marshall Field is the man credited for transforming shopping into a customer-friendly, fun experience.  He recognized early in his career that buying was done primarily by women, a revelation that changed everything.  Adding conveniences such as a coat check, nursery, library, restrooms, telephones and a restaurant to his store signaled that he aimed to please his valued customers.  Field offered unconditional refunds and consistent pricing, and insisted that his staff use a no-pressure sales pitch.   He built his empire on a sensible formula: "Give the lady what she wants."


Field's account of a dozen things to remember is a surprisingly non-materialistic list for a man who made his fortune selling goods.  It reflects the tenets of a Puritan upbringing, a humble background that the influential Chicago retailer never forgot.   


Twelve things to remember
  1. The value of time
  2. The success of perseverance
  3. The pleasure of working
  4. The dignity of simplicity
  5. The worth of character
  6. The power of kindness
  7. The influence of example
  8. The obligation of duty
  9. The wisdom of economy
  10. The virtue of patience
  11. The improvement of talent
  12. The joy of originating


  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Counting Sheep

In October I was sitting in a Glasgow pub (Wetherspoon) waiting for a plate of fish and chips to arrive, when I noticed that the young man seated at the next table was adjusting his camera to capture a long exposure of the rain-soaked urban street scene through the window.  We started talking about the weddings, family portraits and corporate shoots that he did as everyday jobs, and then the conversation turned to his real passion, nature photography.  I expressed my admiration for N.B. nature photographer Freeman Patterson and he quickly Googled that name.  Using his smart phone to display a few examples, the young man introduced me to work he found amazing: the Lake District photos of Ian Lawson. The series records flocks of Herdwick sheep, border collies and shepherds that inhabit a rugged and beautiful landscape of valleys and fells in Cumbria.   These photos stuck in my mind as other-worldly images, conveying the atmosphere and texture of a distinctive place.
One of Ian Lawson's photos of Herdwick sheep

Back home a few days later I picked up a book from the Cap-Pele library entitled "The Shepherd's Life: Modern dispatches from an Ancient Landscape" by James Rebanks.  The cover photo of sheep in the field reminded me of the Lawson photos I had seen during my trip.



  I was delighted to find out that the author/shepherd hails from the same enchanted area of northern England, namely Matterdale Valley in the Eden district of Cumbria, where he tends a flock of Herdwick sheep.  Rebanks takes pride in maintaining a farming practice that has been in use for at least six centuries by his ancestors and their neighbours.

Though the farm equipment and living conditions have been updated in the last two generations,  James Rebanks writes about a way of life that is firmly connected to the past.  A close relationship with his grandfather is central to the book, forming a pattern that the younger shepherd follows as he matures, and in turn passes on to his children as they grow up.  The old man taught him many lessons which define core values in his family: Grandfather was the wise shepherd guiding a flock.

Be fair to other people
Grandfather will not cheat another farmer to get a bargain.  When he buys sheep he negotiates a fair price, knowing that his reputation will be respected and that he will be welcomed back by the seller next year.

Know when to act, and when to hold back
Grandfather kept close watch over ewes at birthing time, but intervened only when it was necessary.  He knew when help was crucial and when it was okay to observe and let nature take its course.

Take care with your work
At age eight, James is taught by his grandfather how to build a stone wall.  Each stone is assessed for suitability of size and shape before being added to the construction.  Craftsmanship is important.

Choose carefully
The decisions made by the shepherd today may have long term consequences for the well-being of the flock.  Don't be swayed by a whim or fashion when selecting a ram.

Delay Gratification
Christmas presents are not opened until all of the sheep have been fed, and the shepherd has consumed his breakfast.  The animals and the people who tend them always come first.

"The Shepherd's Life" introduces a whole new vocabulary to the reader who is not familiar with livestock.  The word "heft" has always been related to lifting or measuring weight in my dictionary, but Rebanks gives us the northern England usage for the word.

heft - verb: trans.  of a farm animal , especially a flock of sheep  To become accustomed and attached to an area of upland pasture.
Apparently this usage derives from the Old Norse "hefo" meaning "tradition."

The book is at heart a meditation on "heft" with emphasis on the value of continuity, deep respect for nature and confidence in an authentic identity that resists change.  As the shepherd describes his life's work, there is no doubt about his personal attachment to the upland pasture and his occupation.

"Working up these mountains is as good as it gets, at least as long as you are not freezing or sodden (though even then you feel alive in ways that I don't in modern life behind glass.)  There is a thrill in the timelessness up there.  I have always liked the feeling of carrying on something bigger than me, something that stretches back through other hands and other eyes into the depths of time.  To work there is a humbling thing, the opposite of conquering a mountain, if you like; it liberates you from any illusion of self-importance.  I am only one of the current graziers on our fell (and one of the smaller and more recently established ones at that), a small link in a very long chain.  Perhaps, in a hundred years' time, no one will care that I owned the sheep that grazed part of these mountains.  They won't know my name.  But that doesn't matter.  If they stand on that fell and do the things we do, they will owe me a tiny unspoken debt for once keeping part of it going, just as I owe all those that came before a debt for getting it this far."

  Here is an interview from the Guardian with James Rebanks that includes a video of his fine sheep.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pigeons and Salvation

On CBC radio's afternoon program Radio-2-Drive, there's a regular item called "Distant Cousins"that makes a comparison between two similar songs.  The sound-alike factor noted in pop/rock music hits may be the product of intentional copying or mere coincidence, but either way, there's precious little innovation in the genre,  just small adjustments of key, chord, melody, rhythm, and lyrics. Listen long enough and it all begins to sound the same.   As John Lennon said, "There are only a few notes, just variations on a theme."


I had just finished reading John Updike's short story "Pigeon Feathers" when I picked up the August issue of Harper's magazine and read "Leap Day" by Austin Smith.  I couldn't help but notice a strong resemblance between the two works of fiction, and wondered if the editor of Harper's had missed it or perhaps selected the story on the basis that Smith was paying homage to Updike with an updated version of the original.  The Updike classic ( published in The New Yorker magazine August 1961) is a story of a teenage boy pondering the possibility of life after death.  David suffers a sense of hopelessness and angst when he receives no reassurance of eternal life from his parents, the minister of his church, or literature.  He searches for answers, envisions his own demise, tries to imagine oblivion and is overwhelmed with a persistent, black dread.  When his mother, making a request on behalf of Grandmother, asks David to shoot the pigeons that are living in the barn and soiling the antique furniture stored there, he reluctantly agrees.  The assignment turns out to be an empowering experience.

"Standing in the center of the floor, fully master now, disdaining to steady the barrel with anything but his arm, he killed two more that way.  He felt like a beautiful avenger.  Out of the shadowy ragged infinity of the vast barn roof these impudent things dared to thrust their heads, presumed to dirty its starred silence with their filthy timorous life, and he cut them off, tucked them back neatly into the silence. He had the sensation of a creator; these little smudges and flickers that he was clever to see and even cleverer to hit in the dim recesses of the rafters - out of each of them he was making a full bird.  A tiny peek, probe, dab of life, when he hit it, blossomed into a dead enemy, falling with good, final, weight."  

David examines the pigeons before burying them, admires their beautiful feathers and is saved from despair.

" He had never seen a bird this close before.  The feathers were more wonderful than dog's hair, for each filament was shaped within the shape of the feather, and the feathers in turn were trimmed to fit a pattern that flowed without error across the bird's body. He lost himself in the geometrical tides as the feathers now broadened and stiffened to make an edge for flight, now softened and constricted to cup warmth around the mute flesh.  And across the surface of the infinitely adjusted yet somehow effortless mechanics of the feathers played idle designs of color, no two alike, designs executed, it seemed, in a controlled rapture, with a joy that hung level in the air above and behind him.  Yet these birds bred in the millions and were exterminated as pests."  

The last sentence of the Updike story describes a moment of transformation and redemption.

" As he fitted the last two, still pliant, on the top, and stood up, crusty coverings were lifted from him, and with a feminine, slipping sensation along his nerves that seemed to give the air hands, he was robed in this certainty:  that the God who had lavished such craft upon these worthless birds would not destroy His whole Creation by refusing to let David live forever."

In the Smith story "Leap Day" the central character Ernie Boettner is about to commit suicide by jumping off a silo on his Illinois farm.  He is devastated by the loss of his same-sex partner Chester and feels unable to express his grief for the deceased lover in a community of homophobic farm folk.  Enter the bird saviour - a pigeon once again - who, like Ernie, is a social outcast.

"On the dome of the silo above and behind him landed a pigeon.  Ernie wondered why it wasn't out there with the others, but the way the pigeon kept ducking its head like a boxer, it struck him that the bird was either ill or retarded.  Realizing he'd never really looked at a pigeon, he looked at this one with something like wonder.  He had worked under their rustling in the barn and cursed their droppings and even once upon a time delighted in blasting them down from the rafters where they liked to line up, warmly cooing, their soft bodies like loaves of bread cooling on a shelf. It wasn't until he met Chester that he had stopped killing them."

"He was moved by the urge to touch this pigeon, the last living thing he could make contact with.  But the bird was perched just too far away for him to reach, although not so far that he couldn't see its eyes, which appeared to be coated with a fine dust. To be held was probably all it didn't know it wanted."  

Ernie descends from the silo after his close encounter with the bird, aware that the pigeon is nothing more than a pigeon, a creature oblivious to his life and death crisis.  Unlike David, he is not enchanted with the bird, but is compelled to change his suicidal course, nevertheless.

"He wished he could tell himself that he had experienced some sort of revelation, but he couldn't, and he had to accept that he had been saved not by an act of grace but by the serene boredom and indifference of a retarded pigeon."   

The story ends with Ernie announcing his homosexuality to patrons in the local bar, Morton Saint's Tap.  His coming out is received with general apathy, as if this dramatic personal declaration wasn't newsworthy information after all.

The pigeon as a symbol of salvation can be traced to biblical text.  My sister the scholar tells me that the Hebrew word "yonah" meaning "dove" also translates as "pigeon."  When Noah sent out a dove from the ark and the bird returned with an olive branch in its beak, it was a sign that the deluge had ended.  Both Updike and Smith introduce an ancient avian icon to carry their plots to conclusion, a winged saviour who restores courage and delivers peace to troubled characters.

Distant cousins may look alike, or sound alike, but they are not twins.   Updike's story moved me with a gradual build-up of tension, the sensitive probing of his main character, the astonishment of killing as a creative act, and the phrase "controlled rapture" as an apt description of intelligent design.  Recycling the framework of the same narrative (with a few twists) Smith creates a story that is dumbed-down by a maudlin protagonist, a handicapped bird and an ending that leaves the reader with the insipid question "Who cares?".



Friday, September 4, 2015

Perfect Pesto

The basil must be fresh from the garden, the olive oil, extra virgin cold-pressed, the pine nuts plentiful and lightly roasted.  Above all, the garlic has to be local, from Norm's.

Pesto-makers who won't settle for Rooster brand garlic (product of China) should make a trip to Cap-Pele for top quality bulbs.  As you approach the village, you can't miss Norm's sign positioned at the side of the road on Acadie, just past Tim Hortons.

Turn at the sign

Drive past Norm's garden and stop at the shed.  If he's not there, honk the horn.

Garlic bulbs drying on the line
Norm on duty in the garlic shed

Making pesto is simple, once you have assembled the right ingredients.

Norm's garlic is large,  juicy and fragrant.  

Peel and slice cloves

Wash fresh-picked basil leaves

Roast pine nuts in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.  Let them cool before processing.

Olive oil
Product of  wonderful Greece - (they need the revenue!)


Add basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil to food processor in small batches, grind to a thick paste.

Pesto!
 I freeze the sauce in small tart tins.  Add cheese at serving time - Parmigiano-Reggiano is traditional.

There is a chill in the air, the geese are heading south and we all know that summer days are dwindling.  In the dead of winter, a little pesto on linguine pasta is enough to revive the soul.

No comparison

Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer Notes


When you discover a new word and take the time to look up its meaning in the dictionary, you often unleash a chain reaction of frequent encounters.   The word appears in the next newspaper article you read, and then in an interview on CBC radio, and then in a monologue in a play and you wonder how you lived so long without knowing that marvelous, expressive word.   

So it was when I found a CD of baroque lute music while browsing through second hand cast-offs at a thrift store in Shediac.  The recording was one I was totally unfamiliar with:  Volume 2 of the London Manuscripts composed by Silvius Leopold Weiss (1686-1750), performed by Michel Cardin.  It turned out to be the best buy of the summer, a delightful soundtrack for August chores that tend to be repetitive and go on forever.  The soothing lute music was played over and over again while stripping dried lavender from the stalks, filling sachets with the buds and hand sewing the seams with rows of tiny, invisible stitches.  It took me back a few centuries, to the days when ladies' primary work was embroidery.




Cds by Michel Cardin

Lavender sachets


I read the liner notes and learned that Cardin is a music professor at Universite de Moncton who made it his mission over ten years to record the extensive works (28 solo sonatas) by Weiss contained in a folio in the British Museum. The works were never published during the composer's lifetime, and were not presented to the general public until Cardin engaged in the 12 CD recording project.  He writes about the multi-faceted layers of sound that add density to lute music and heighten its capacity to convey a range of moods, from melancholy to exuberant.

"Even upon superficially listening to the lute one can be fascinated.  The listener is seduced by the constant movement between a coherent musical discourse - some singing lines - and a mosaic of interior nuances fleetingly tasted due to the fact that they are too complex to be explicitly perceived."

"The analogy of the mosaic, or a stained glass window, is appropriate.  The rational mind perceives a general image, simple as a sketch.  Simultaneously, however, the intuition perceives hundreds of elementary components, meaningless in themselves but which merge into a coherent image."

To my amazement, I found two more of Cardin's recordings at a local garage sale,  just a week after first becoming acquainted with the London Manuscript suites and the baroque lute.  I may be inclined to call that summoning of attention "divine guidance" but the more popular term is Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon .

For more detailed information about the London Manuscripts, read notes by Michel Cardin here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Kingsbrae Garden

On Sunday we visited St. Andrews-by-the-Sea near the southwest border of NB.  Settled by Loyalists from Castine Maine in 1783, the town retains New England charm with well-preserved salt box style architecture and classic examples of American shingle style houses.  It is a popular tourist destination and home to one of the loveliest Canadian gardens.

The jewel of St. Andrews is the 27 acre garden named Kingsbrae.  Formerly the residence of John and Lucinda Flemer, the property has been developed as a showcase for diverse horticultural styles. From high-maintenance traditional hedges to contemporary container plantings, the gardens are full of colour, beauty and drama.  In addition to the usual beds of roses and rhododendrons, the garden includes an Acadian forest, an heirloom apple orchard, a therapy garden, and a cedar maze.   My husband from the Netherlands was surprised to find a fully functional authentic Dutch windmill built on the edge of a pond.

Formal gardens, precisely clipped

Poppies
White is used throughout the garden as a backdrop for colour

Layers of colour and contrasting shapes add interest

The sculpture garden includes this oversize trowel- a nod to Claes Oldenburg

Peonies
Peonies line the path 

The former Flemer residence, now a fine restaurant 

The restaurant terrace overlooks the gardens
Alpacas graze on the lawn while we eat lunch

Blue and yellow plantings

Upper pond, home to the ducks

Dutch windmill, one third scale

Red Trumpet Honeysuckle

The garden is used as a venue for open air concerts and weddings


Every passage provides a vista
Rose garden
Roses in bloom

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

- Henry James

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Garden Voices

It's a rite of spring, the first trip to the garden centre at Canadian Tire in Shediac.  Although snow is still covering frozen N.B. ground and the transplanting of seedlings will have to wait until June,  I am keen to expand the herb garden with more rosemary, peppermint, tarragon, oregano and parsley.   A few pots of green sprouts sitting on a windowsill indoors would be a symbolic gesture, ushering in the brief but happy growing season.

The view from the parking lot was not encouraging.  My heart sank and my thumb started to ache. We didn't even bother to get out of the car.

Still snowed in

Back at home I settled into an armchair and escaped into "Garden Voices: Two centuries of Canadian Garden Writing" edited by Edwinna von Baeyer and Pleasance Crawford.   The book is a collection of letters, magazine articles, poems, speeches and diary entries written by amateur and professional gardeners who have one thing in common - they've all faced the nasty weather conditions and short growing season that limit horticulture experiences in Canada.  Successful northern gardeners are, by necessity, hardy perennial types who simply won't give up.


The book is arranged thematically, with articles chronologically ordered within each chapter, a structure that takes the reader meandering on a winding path through historical and contemporary plantings.

The drawbacks of the Canadian climate are outlined by H. B. Dunnington-Grubb, an Ontario landscape architect in an article first published by the British Institute of Landscape Architects in 1935.
"I doubt if you people at home have the slightest idea of the difficulties encountered by landscape architects in a climate like this.  The winter of 1933-34 destroyed old established apple orchards.  Shrubs like common privet were frozen to the ground, resulting in dead hedges in every city.  The only evergreens we can grow here are a very short list of conifers and even the Austrian Pine may not survive in Montreal.  Roses and perennials are often carried off wholesale in spite of every possible protection.  And then, the insects -but no, I won't start on the insects.  And yet people persevere."

A letter from Juliana Horatio Ewing from Fredericton N.B. describes her attempts to force bulbs during the winter.  On February 23, 1869 she wrote to a friend back in England:

"anything green - growing & sweet is doubly & trebly welcome when every trace of one's garden in buried 4 or 5 feet deep in snow - & the ground is frozen so hard that you know that there is not getting at anything that you did not take up in the Autumn (or even a bit of garden mould) till May! I have been much more successful this year than last ... Our little house will keep out the extreme frost & the other we lived in last year would not.  (We used to carry the hyacinth pots up to bed with us -put them round the stove & bury them in dressing gowns etc., but the poor things were frozen & thawed over and over again!!"

In the chapter "Laying out the Grounds"  an excerpt from William Lyon Mackenzie King's diary records the Prime Minister of Canada fretting over the design and placement of a balustrade at Kingsmere, his country estate.  He wants to get the picturesque framework for his garden just right.

September 11, 1931
"I spent the forenoon revising the location of the balustrade, its openings etc.  I came to the conclusion that it was too far into the garden, it lost the intimate touch with the house and crowded over too much towards the garden & the tree..."

I love reading the words of Lucy Maud Montgomery from 1910, as she reminisces about  her grandmother's garden in P.E.I.

"It is foolishness to speak as we do of "old" gardens: gardens are perennially young, the haunt of flowers and children.  And Grandmother's garden was always full of both...."

"The garden was intersected by right-angled paths, bordered by the big white clam-shells which were always found in abundance by the bay, and laid with gravel from the shore - coloured pebbles and little white shells well ground into the soil  In the beds between the paths and around the wall grew all the flowers in the world, or so, at least, we used to think.  The same things were always found in the same place; we always looked for the clove pinks, sown in grandmother's bridal days, behind the big waxberry bush, and the shadowy corner behind the sumacs was always sweet in spring with white narcissus."

"Garden Voices" offers comfort for the disheartened gardener stuck indoors at the end of April watching a snow storm fling a fresh white sheet over the land.  There is hope that this, too, will pass.

My lavender garden, on ice