Pine Sunday

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No, I didn’t make a mistake in the title. I really did mean “pine” Sunday.

This coming Sunday marks the annual commemoration of Jesus’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey with her colt accompanying Him. Crowds gathered branches of native palms to lay before Him, like spreading red cloaks welcoming a king. Children sang Hosannas to Him.

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This day marks the beginning of Holy Week, the most sacred and solemn liturgical season in the church year, culminating in Easter Sunday seven days later. Every  year, Christians observe this commemoration by singing Hosannas while waving palm branches and carrying banners in processions around the churches. Altars are decorated with arrangements of palmettos instead of flowers.

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But this year is different. This year is the time of Coronavirus Covid-19. It is a time of self quarantine and the churches are closed to public worship. Nonetheless, Palm Sunday and the Easter Triduum will happen. There is no stopping the progression of the days and seasons. And there is no stopping of these celebrations, just not in churches. If you have access to palms or palmettos, snip off a frond or two — albeit a non-blessed palm — and lay on an open Bible, or add to a floral arrangement for your table.

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If you don’t live in a climate conducive to these sub-tropical plants, but in areas where coniferous trees and shrubs are plentiful, then, suggests Father Louis Phillips of the Diocese of Portland (ME), break off small pieces for a table arrangement at home. Hence, “pine Sunday” as a substitute devotional, according to Catholic News Agency (https://catholic-sf.org/news/no-palms-but-maine-priest-encourages-pine-sunday).

So, following the priest’s suggestion, I plan to snip a sprig of English Yew and Colorado Spruce for a hanging basket arrangement on my front door. Voila! Pine Sunday!

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Delayed “Six on Saturday”

Invitation to the Garden

With all that’s going on, my mind becomes distracted, pulled this way and that. Your garden posts help keep me rooted in what really matters while we struggle to keep calm and carry on during this plague. Here in America, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has extended the quarantine to the end of April. My husband thinks maybe well into May and June as the disease hasn’t peaked yet. Heavens!

Well, a bit of color awakening from my winter garden scene lifts my spirits. Surprisingly, this year the purple magnolia (m. soulangeana) bloomed early, almost at the beginning of March, when word of this new Novid-19 made an appearance in Seattle. In spite of a dip in night temps, it’s still hanging on.

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My dogwoods, on the other hand, still lag behind schedule.

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On the ground, a single red tulip makes an appearance here and there.

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They…

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Delayed “Six on Saturday”

With all that’s going on, my mind becomes distracted, pulled this way and that. Your garden posts help keep me rooted in what really matters while we struggle to keep calm and carry on during this plague. Here in America, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has extended the quarantine to the end of April. My husband thinks maybe well into May and June as the disease hasn’t peaked yet. Heavens!

Well, a bit of color awakening from my winter garden scene lifts my spirits. Surprisingly, this year the purple magnolia (m. soulangeana) bloomed early, almost at the beginning of March, when word of this new Novid-19 made an appearance in Seattle. In spite of a dip in night temps, it’s still hanging on.

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My dogwoods, on the other hand, still lag behind schedule.

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On the ground, a single red tulip makes an appearance here and there.

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They contrast nicely with purple hyacinths (muscari) growing ever fuller

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Crocuses the color of egg yolks have just about finished now.

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The small rhododendron inside the front gate put out color in tiny blooms day before yesterday — again, rather a bit early.

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And that’s my delayed posting of “Six on Saturday.”

Keep safe and well. This pandemic will pass . . . eventually . . . I hope.

 

Breaking with Social Distancing

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It is all of  you, my garden blogging friends worldwide, who convince me that we ALL  are in this societal shut-down together, simultaneously. The pandemic is not just a bad dream last night, not just here in my corner of the world. It’s everywhere, top to bottom, all around. The marketplaces are closed, cities abandoned.

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Restaurants are barred, the tables bared.

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Public gardens and parks are off-limits in many places.

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So we decide to stay inside buildings, but bookstores and libraries are closed.

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Even the churches remain empty.

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Thanks to World Wide Web, however, we still can keep in touch with each other without breaking the social distancing rule. We can use the printed and typed word and colorful visual images with a touch on the computer keyboard and mouse. We can find each other wherever we are in the world, up and down, all around!

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Blessings, everyone! ~ Jo

 

 

 

 

That way we can encourage each other that this, too, shall pass all in due course.

House Arrest

Spring in the Yakima Valley in Central Washington state can be capricious. It plays tricks, teases with a rare sunny day only to slap me down with yet another cold snap. Even a sudden late season snow can smother darling gold crocuses, as happened a couple of weeks ago. What else can I expect, living so close to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains?

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Now, one lone daffodil in bloom braves chilly nights to greet me when I step out to fetch the morning paper. Other daffodils, already up, will follow in due course, along with purple grape hyacinths already in early bloom. Tiny violets peep out from leaves yet curled against the chill.

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We sit on the front porch bench, Charlie and I, and soak up all the Vitamin D we can get on this clear sunny day. No harm in sitting outside while we’re under virtual house arrest, I reckon, while the country, like the rest of the world, is on virtual lock-down, hiding like those shy violets from a mysterious virus that spreads like an unseen miasma.

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The worst for me is locked churches, worship services streamlined on my computer or televised on cable. The last Sunday that we could attend our regular Mass, two weeks ago, we were told to maintain a “safe” distance and not to touch each other. We could receive only the Communion wafer, not the cup. It’s a new kind of Lenten discipline, almost. Can we delay Holy Week and the Easter Triduum? No, they’ll occur right on schedule, just without churches and cathedrals packed with the faithful. I suppose those will be televised from somewhere, too.

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In the meantime, I try to remind myself that this, too, shall come to pass. Populations of peoples have weathered pandemics and plagues before, just as they have earthquakes and storms, wars and political upheavals. God is in His heaven, and all is in control, really and truly. While we shelter in place, we don’t go out in public except for dire necessities (there is Amazon.com, folks!) and wash our hands countless times a day for as long as it takes to sing the Doxology. Let’s use this period as a personal retreat. Need some ideas?

(1) Read all those books you’ve put aside until later when you have more time. Time has arrived at last.

(2) Finish sewing projects you’ve neglected.

(3) Clear out your garden beds at leisure and enjoy the process without rush. You have plenty of time, now.

(4) Plot out a new garden plan.

(5)  Rearrange your patio or courtyard. You may well be staying this summer.

(6) Cook. That is, engage in comfort cooking — long, slow cooking recipes for comfort foods.

(7) Set a pretty spring table with your best china. No fresh flowers? Sort through your collection of silk floral materials. Light the candles.

(8) Gather your in-house family for simple prayer services. Sing a favorite hymn.

(9) Escape into Netflix or Amazon movies — good ones, not scary memes.

(10) Go to bed on time. Dream about gardens!

 

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The Mighty Oak

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Do you suppose that, when American poet Joyce Kilmer penned this piece for which he is best known, he had the oak tree in mind? Perhaps he did. At least, that’s how I always pictured his “Trees” poem when I, as a child, played under our own spreading oaks.

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I had my favorites, like the one with a deep indentation at the root where imaginary fairies and sprites came out in the moonlight, or the ones with limbs almost as big as trunks, where I could climb up and hide. I would cry out my furies against the bark of massive old trunks warmed by afternoon sun, never knowing that the young King Charles II hid in the branches of a great oak, himself hiding from the Roundheads after the battle at Worcester. Incidentally, “Royal Oak Day” is celebrated on the 29th of May, the day of the monarchy’s Restoration.

Speaking of hiding out in oak trees, Sherwood Forest in Nottingham was the legendary Robin Hood’s shelter where he and his band of merry men slept under Major Oak. It is about 800 to 1,000 years old, with a girth of 33 feet and a canopy of 92 feet. When the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086, the royal forest covered perhaps a quarter of Nottinghamshire in woodland and heath, subject to the forest laws. Its limbs are so heavy that they must be supported, as shown in the photo below.

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Dense forests of oaks once covered most of Northern Europe. In ancient folklore, an oak often was the guardian tree of a family. Such was the famous Oak of Errol in Perth, Scotland. When Kenneth III was king of Scotland, Danish Vikings staged a raid in 980. A peasant named Hay and his two sons, ploughing a field nearby, saw the invaders and ran to fight. After the battle, the king rewarded Hay with a gift of land. A 19th-century descendant described how it was believed that a sprig of mistletoe cut from an oak by a Hay on All Hallowmas Eve was an infallible guard in the day of battle. A spray of mistletoe placed in an infant’s cradle would defend the babe from being changed into elf-bairns by the Fairies.

Today’s gardens of Errol Park at Perthshire have augmented the ancient oaks and yews with rhododendrons and ornamental trees.

The oak is a common symbol of strength and endurance. Bowthorp Oak in Bourne, Lincolnshire, is a thousand years old and was featured in Guinness Book of World Records. In the Roman Republic, a crown of oak leaves was given to those who had saved the life of another citizen in battle, thus the “Civic Oak Crown.” Here, Trajan wears a Civic Oak Crown in this sculpture. Marble portrait, c. 138-161 C.E.

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In North America, oak trees are native in wooded coastal areas from Texas to Florida and up to Virginia. It is the national tree of America. Raleigh, North Carolina, is known as the “City of Oaks.” Among several notable oak trees in the U. S. are Emancipation Oak in the National Historic Landmark District of Hampton, Virginia — the site where Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was first read in the South . . . 

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. . . and Seven Sisters Oaks in Mandeville, Louisiana, the most magnificent live oak in that state. The tree was originally registered at the Live Oak Society as “Doby’s Seven Sisters” because the Doby family owned the property where the tree was located; Mrs. Doby was one of seven sisters.

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COMING UP NEXT: The five species of oaks in eastern North America

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Color Purple / Six on Saturday

 

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Passionate Purple Tulips Bouquet

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Purple is for Lent

Purple crocuses are the first to pop up through the early spring bracken

followed by purple violets in sweet shyness.

Purple grape hyacinths struggle to keep up.

Purple pansies remain only in my imagination; I’ve not planted them yet.

Purple tulips are for Holy Week, to lay on deceased priests’ graves.

But a field of purple wild flowers is for Easter joy.