Almost Cherry Blossoms

My son suggested that, instead of restricting my posts to completed work, I post something in progess. So here is a painting of a cherry blossom still life, in the early stages.

And today is the birthday of Fannie Farmer (1857-1915), who, despite suffering a debilitating stroke at age 16, went on to study cookery, open her own cooking school, invent standardized measuring tools, and eventually publish the never-out-of-print Boston Cooking-School Cookbook—a reference not only for food information but also for home medical care. For a sketch, and a mini-bio, please see Mother of Level Measurements.


Spring, the Sweet Spring

Whether you awakened this morning to blazing heat or a fresh fall of snow, today is officially the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Here to celebrate the day are a cherry blossom sketch from my sketchbook and a poem by Thomas Nashe.

At this turning of the year I like to remember Louis J. Halle (1911-1988), author of the magical and engaging Spring in Washington, a journal of early-spring biking and quiet observation that opens our eyes to the timeless natural world surrounding, and oblivious to, the evanescent heap of brick and concrete within which we burrow. (I hope you can manage to think of our bureaucratic city as magical and engaging. ‘Tis a transformative season.)

For a mini-bio of Halle, please see A Capital Spring. And a merry cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo to you!


Spring, the sweet spring, is the year’s pleasant king,
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to witta-woo!

—Thomas Nashe

Cherry Blossom Biking

Yesterday morning dawned clear and mild, and our family biked down to Haines Point and the Tidal Basin for a St. Patrick’s Day picnic breakfast (whole grain soda bread, Irish cheddar, and apple wedges) along the water. Although Cherry Blossom Week doesn’t begin officially for a few more days, the cherry blossoms, in all innocence of this fact, were opening their pink and white faces to admiring visitors. As we pedaled along, I tried to recall the words of this verse.



Gone were but the Winter

Each day of this increasingly warm weather brings something else into bloom and new subjects to paint. Hard to believe that it’s officially still winter for nearly another week.

To accompany this painting, a poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894).

And today is the birthday of literary patron and Shakespeare and Company founder Sylvia Beach. For a sketch and a mini-bio, please see Paris Memory.


Gone were but the Winter,
Come were but the Spring,
I would go to a covert
Where the birds sing;

Where in the whitethorn
Singeth a thrush,
And a robin sings
In the holly-bush.

Full of fresh scents
Are the budding boughs
Arching high over
A cool green house:

Full of sweet scents,
And whispering air
Which sayeth softly:
“We spread no snare;

“Here dwell in safety,
Here dwell alone,
With a clear stream
And a mossy stone.

“Here the sun shineth
Most shadily;
Here is heard an echo
Of the far sea,
Though far off it be.”

—Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)


Spring Is Near

Here is a sketch from recent wanderings, and below it a verse my daughter and I learned while experiencing the properties of numbers in first grade. Its delight and usefulness lie in its three-fold-ness: three verses, in anapestic (short-short-long) monometer, about a charming three-petaled flower. During the same block I taught her to waltz, and we danced around the room chanting this poem.

For another March 1st welcome, please see In Like a Lion.


Snowdrops we
Petals three
You may see.

White, green, gold
We unfold
In the cold.

Words of cheer
Speak we clear:
Spring is near.