From my window, the wisteria makes the yard seem surreal, as if the pale purple flowers have strayed from a fairy tale. It would begin Once upon a time, an evil sorceress planted a magical tree, but she didn't want anyone to touch it, so she sent a bitter cold snap, forcing the peasants to stay indoors.
Spring is such a tease. I didn't mind the February snow at all. I dressed in layers, refusing to stay inside. Just last week I worked outside in a t-shirt, and now I'm in flannels, my feet propped on the heating vent. It's this back-and-forth, hot and cold, that wears me down. When the weather was warm and sunny, I bought delphiniums and foxgloves, and now they are tucked away in the garage. I hope I don't accidentally kill them before spring arrives. My mother says we're not having a Wisteria Winter, we're having a Dogwood Winter. And to brace myself: it might not be over. We could have a Whippoorwill Winter, Blackberry Winter, or a Locust Winter. She is the toughest woman I know, enduring crippling arthritis and injections in her eyes. When it's time for a treatment, she holds real still and lets her mind wander into the past. Suddenly she's a girl again, picking tomatoes in her grandmother's Mississippi garden.
But she hates the cold. She hunkers down, waiting for it to pass.
Like many things, the weather is out of our control, and we must endure. I saw a Titmouse sitting on a branch, the wind stirring her gray feathers. She sat there so long, my son began to worry about her. Normally I would have shared his fear; but two weeks ago, I attended a lecture on wild bird behavior, and I learned how they deal with dire weather. When the mercury falls, birds can enter a Zen-like state. Somehow they tune out the cold, preserving their energy. It's called torpor, by the way. But if you walked by the tree, the bird would instantly become alert and fly away.
Sunday is supposed to be 68 to 70 degrees. But now, tonight, I'm wrapped in a blanket, dreaming of sunlight and warmth. I will weave my own fairy tale. Once upon a time, the dogwood winter gave way to flower season, and the whole world was warm and bright and happy.