F said that first. She knows more words than I can keep track of, and is eloquent between her frequent moments of belligerence. I taught her “tendrils”; they seemed to go well with “unfolding”, and they distracted her from using her new favorite word, “nauseating”. The smell in the Ottoman Garden was a bit nauseating, but we chalked it up to rich, organic matter spread amongst the burgeoning tulips. I’ll take “nauseating” over the alternatives any day. I’ll take language over anything. We force feed her words at every pause in our day in the hopes that she’ll have the ones she needs at her disposal to describe the tempests, or calm them on occasion.
“The garden is unfolding,” she boldly announces as she crosses the threshold, and that is enough to carry me through our walk while dodging her walking-stick-turned-metal-detector that she has threaded into the end of her scarf and has now turned into a bow and arrow. She tests me as she wields this weapon through the Wednesday morning walkers. They are not amused, except for one. That lady sees it too. The garden is unfolding, and the observant can see it, and the poets can name it, and the walking sticks are plentiful, covered in spent magnolia and pungent earth.
Yesterday the temperatures climbed into the mid-eighties. Last night, the winds rushed in, cooling things back off again to more seasonal levels. This morning was brisk and chilly, and we were a bit underdressed. Our hands were tingling when we left, but it was worth it. The changes in the garden this past week were incredible; signs of new growth everywhere. She asked me what was on the horizon, and I said hundreds and hundreds of things, but also tulips. She was determined to find an early bird among the magnolia blossoms, and she did! Pink. Pink like the carpet of petals on the lawn, pink like the spent blossoms she picked up and carried back to school to share. Pink like her jacket, winding ahead of me, and sometimes behind. Pink like our cheeks and our fingers and the brick walks and the apple we split on our drive there. Pink like spring.
Last night, just before bed, F told me she hoped it wouldn’t be raining in the morning, but… she also hoped that there would be plenty of puddles leftover for stomping. This morning the streets were damp but the skies were clear, and so we headed out to watch the garden as it starts to wake up from its winter nap. The skies are gray today, but we caught a few glimpses of the sun through the clouds. It’s warm and damp and feels like March – the gentle March, not the blustery one. I’ll take it.