On the wind in February
Snowflakes float still,
Half inclined to turn to rain,
Nipping, dripping, chill.
~ Christina Georgina Rossetti
I was wowed by the positive responses I received last week when I candidly revealed that I have struggled with depression at different times in my life. It was my suspicion that others would understand as they, too, have had a similar experience. As winter spins out the days, I can feel my spirits lifting toward spring. Of course there are plenty of snowflakes and blustery winds to come, but something has changed within and the shadows are retreating.
Now I look forward to Valentine’s Day. Not because I expect a big box of chocolates and a bouquet of roses – they don’t really mean that much to me. At this point in life, if I decide I really need chocolate (that I don’t really need) I just buy some. As for fresh flowers on Valentine’s Day, I was a florist for quite a few years, and nothing takes the bloom off a rose as spending Cupid’s favorite day in a flower shop. It is petal induced pandemonium. My first boss was posted at the cash register, and as the day wore on, the stock ran down, and the customers became increasingly desperate, he’d dash back to the workroom long enough to tell us that if we ran out of flowers to start tying bows on the dust bunnies.
Even through all that, I have continued to love flowers and plants. I love the rainbow of colors, the fragrance of flower shops, and the earthy smell of steamy greenhouses. But, if flowers come into the house, we have to instantly become vigilant because they are regarded by our cats as both the salad and the dessert courses. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a vase of flowers that didn’t have leaves and petals punctured by sharp little teeth. It’s a mystery as to why cats prefer vases filled with flowers lying horizontally. It must be the added bonus of watching all that water cascade off the table and onto the floor. So, during the time fresh flowers reside with us, I have to remember every night before retiring to tuck them safely in a bathroom with a tightly closed door.
That also explains why our houseplants spend as much of the year outside as possible. They go out as early as is wise in the spring and stay there until frost threatens in the fall. The only two plants that are impervious, or at least distasteful to the cats, making it safe for them as houseguests, are a Christmas cactus and a wizened ivy of indeterminate taxonomy. We keep a large pineapple plant secluded in one of the guest rooms. Our youngest daughter and her husband brought us a pineapple from Maui when they returned from their honeymoon. After we ate and thoroughly enjoyed the fruit, I started the top in some potting soil. That was almost two years ago and it is still growing. Two rather anemic philodendrons languish atop the china cabinets, dehydrated and longing for the warm and humid atmosphere of summer. Aren’t we all?
The other plants are on display behind bars in a little iron greenhouse, a decorative protective custody. It is always an occasion when the door is creaked open so I can water them. Suddenly three cats materialize and stare, fascinated, while I water two vulnerable ferns and a balding shamrock plant. It should be named “resurrection plant” because while it feebly puts out a few anemic blossoms and pale leaves during the winter, as soon as it is removed to its shady corner by the herb garden, it bursts once again with glorious growth. Much like I do.