Burning away the Clouds

Today Radio 4 promised in a poetic moment that the clouds would burn away as the day went on and it would get a bit warmer. Here’s hoping!

In the garden, there are daffodils, the magnolia is unfurling a first bloom, the hellebores are at their best, and there is leaf burst here and there, with tight buds on the bay shrub and glossy new leaves.

A pair of handsome jackdaws are ripping all the moss out of our little lawn, which is slowly being colonised by daisies. I think the jackdaws have a plan.  They arrived about three weeks ago, figured out how to balance yin yang style on one of the feeders meant for the small birds, but are very equable with the other birds, yielding gently and avoiding arguments. My sort of bird!

The hawthorn is full of juicy green leaf clusters, the alliums are getting ready to play host to bees. I saw one huge bumble bee the other day, slowly going through the garden, but it really is too cold for bees to be out and about right now. The cardoons have survived the winter, as have many of the other plants; in particular, there is the thrill of peonies to come, big fat shoots making their way through the leaf litter.

I think of my friend Betty, who I keep safe in my heart,  when I see the peonies making their way to the surface, she loved peonies and planted them all round her Edmonton house. That’s how I know they can survive a cold winter!

Tubs full of last year’s spring bulbs are purposeful once more.

On the kitchen table I have some tulips from a kind friend, but it feels a bit like cheating . What do you think about cut flowers? I have very mixed feelings.

The wood pigeons are still feeding from their little ground feeder on the vegetable bed, the walls of which  have suffered once more with all the repeated frosts; the wooden seat under the birch trees has begun to rot away and is host to a determined fringe of fungi.  Some re-thinks due here in the next year or so.

By the side of the playing field adjoining the woods, the plum trees in the hedge are covered in tight little white buds; the first intrepid few opening only yesterday.

It can be a time of conflicting emotions. All this new eager life, looking for sun and water, space and time, love and death – the big stuff, the stuff I don’t blog about. OK, just one more thing…

Today it is a year since Alan Peck died. We miss him still and are grateful for the gift of his teaching and his life. I hadn’t known him that long, less than a year,  but his smile lit up a room and his welcome was extraordinary. If we all smiled like he did and opened our hearts the world would be a better place.

The Buddha said:
This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance.
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky,
Rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.


What the caterpillar perceives as the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning.

17 thoughts on “Burning away the Clouds

  1. Jeannette

    I liked reading this post, Joanna, and found it thought provoking. I think as we grow older we do tend to value natures wonders more and more. Thank you.

  2. Abby

    Thank you so much for the beautiful springtime pictures, Joanna…your pictures and words give me hope (we’re still buried under many feet of snow here). =)

  3. heidi

    You have Spring!
    “Oh to be in England, now that…” March is there!
    We still have snow. and ice.
    But there is a promise in the air some mornings- and the sun seems to be coming around a little bit more each day.
    You have written a beautiful memorial.
    And I’m all for remembering anyone that inspires these words ” his smile lit up a room and his welcome was extraordinary. If we all smiled like he did and opened our hearts the world would be a better place.”
    Thanks for a peek at your world and your heart.

  4. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Hi Abby and Heidi

    I can’t believe you still have snow and ice! Is that normal for where you live, what time of year does your Spring show up? It’s still really cold here, but even so the grass is getting longer and as you can see there are buds and a few flowers now. The birds think it is time to get busy too…

    This post wasn’t really meant as a memorial, it was just meant to be about a change in the seasons, but ended up writing itself almost. It’s funny how your mind takes you down remembering paths sometimes. For some people Autumn does this, for me it is the Spring.

  5. bagnidilucca

    I love your description of the start of spring. We had snow here today. It has been snowing all around us for days and we had a short burst of snow this morning. It wasn’t enough to stay on the ground, but we may get more tonight. Peonies are my absolute favourite flower. They grow wild on the side of the road here and are the size of dinner plates. I drive everyone crazy with my shouts at peonie sightings. I love spring, especially here where it is so spectacular.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi Debra, thanks for commenting. Wild peonies??? Please, please take pics for me when they arrive. We could get more snow I guess. Nothing is certain about the weather, probably why it is one of the all-time favourite topics of conversation in England (hehe)

  6. bagnidilucca

    I always take photos of the peonies – and the wisteria, roses, irises, poppies etc that spring up everywhere here in the spring. The magnolias in Via Garibaldi are about to flower. Both sides of the street are pink and white for 2 weeks. Somebody must have planted the peonies years ago I suppose, but they just appear all over the place.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      No stopping the flowers if they’re happily ensconced in the right place. I’ve just been watching the Spice Trail; saffron and vanilla growing – will dream of sweet scents tonight…

  7. chocveg

    Hi Jo, lovely to hear of your Spring sprouting! So chilly here too, though a bit of hazy sunshine today once I was back at work after lunch! Cut willow last weekend, it was all beginning to burst forth in beautiful pussy willows and gloriously opening out on my table! And I am going to learn how to make baskets on Saturday, which is opportune! Perhaps I will go into banneton production ha ha! Just been baking 5 loaves for a service tomorrow evening, it has warmed the house up no end! Happy Friday!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Here’s hoping for some serious sunshine today Allison! I have one Kilmarnock willow in the garden, it too has some pussy willow after a ferocious trim last autumn when it looked like a muppet. Never thought to make baskets. You should definitely go into banneton production! Put me down for one ;) Five loaves sounds like a lot, but it’s such a pleasure to bake for others isn’t it? Happy days to you too! xx

  8. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Beautiful post Joanna. All that important big stuff… wonderful memories of your friend.
    He sounds like he must have touched a number of people.

    (your photo of the tulips in waiting is stunning.)

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