Pretty, right? A PJM Rhododendron, to be specific. But I have to tell you folks, it’s so much more. On Sunday, fat bumblebees bounced from flower to flower. In the side yard, Kelly green leaves muscled out the spent forsythia blossoms. At the front corner, my lilac bush, a housewarming gift from twenty-three years ago, offered up its first bloom. All this as it is every May.
Except, this year, I’d begun to wonder. It’s been a long, cold spring. Just this week, the last of the snow melted from where they piled it on the beach parking lot, leaving black-sludge pavement.
Sunday afternoon, I pruned the dry sticks of six hydrangeas. We’ll be lucky to get any blossoms this year, yet I fertilized them with Miracle Grow and hope. In the process, I found evidence of the deer that tramped through winter paths my husband plowed (for us…but the deer were opportunistic)— chewed rhododendrons, an azalea and an evergreen ewe, gnawed to sticks. Years of gardening, irreparably damaged by indiscriminate hunger.
And at about that point, I’ll realize we’ve slipped it into the good times again. Coffee in the rock garden. Early morning trips in the dinghy. Painted toenails and flip flops. Climbing out of bed early for sunrise photos. Sun Drops and Bee Balm and Foxgloves seeding themselves wherever.
I'm not there yet. But after a few weeks I will be, and then, I’ll think about replacing those damaged bushes, recognizing something that was hard to remember this year. A cliche perhaps, but one I'm taking very much to heart. No matter how bad it seems. There’s always another spring.