Flow’ry May

Clematis, pansies, primroses, lily-of-the-valley: our tiny city garden is bursting into bloom.

For today, a sketch and a poem.


Now the bright morning star, day’s harbinger,
Comes dancing from the east, and leads with her
The flow’ry May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, thou dost inspire
Mirth and youth and warm desire!
Woods and groves are of thy dressing,
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.

—John Milton (1608-1674)


CakeVioletsAunt Francie

Neighborhood in Bloom


To give the dog his four daily walks is no fun for anybody, including the dog, when it’s under the blazing August sun or an icy November rain. But what a pleasure it is in spring, when each walk brings a surprise, and the buds of a morning walk have unfolded into pale pink blossom by afternoon.

This is a sketch of a neighborhood tree from our homeschooling Botany block.

If you want to plant a tree in your DC garden this spring, Casey Trees, which was founded in 2002 to protect the city’s tree canopy, is offering a rebate of up to $50 per tree (three trees maximum). Now is the time to ensure the cool, leafy green shade of summer.

Today is the birthday of Washington, DC carpenter and builder Harry Wardman (1872-1938), who is responsible for many of our neighborhood’s houses (although once he achieved success he no longer wielded the hammer personally). For a picture and bio, please see Wild About Harry.


Dancing with the Daffodils

I post this ever-so-timely poem, along with a sketch of a neighbor’s garden, in honor of William Wordsworth (1770-1850), whose birthday it is today.


I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

—William Wordsworth

For another Wordworth poem, a bio, and a painting, please see My Heart Leaps Up.

Glimpse of Spring


A few weeks ago a fierce thunderstorm blasted our area. The following morning the neighborhood was strewn with dozens of enormous broken branches—all in bud. A little sadly, we brought home a few sprays and put them in water, the vases of bare twigs giving our table a poignant wintery appearance.

The buds, unaware of their fallen state, are now confidently unfolding and bringing forth their hidden treasures, but in miniature. This one is from a pink dogwood tree. The four bracts that usually unfold to a 2″ or 3″ diameter are here only about 5/8” across. But still beautiful.

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


Magic Hands


Here is friend and neighbor Susan, whose birthday it is today, and who, in all the years I have known her, rarely appears anywhere (except perhaps the theater) without a bag containing at least one current knitting project. Over the years I’ve watched beautiful pieces flow from her talented hands, destined for family, friends, or strangers in need: scarves, hats, sweaters for all ages, socks, and blankets—including a beautiful off-to-college afghan for her daughter Sara made of leftover scraps from years of Sara’s knitted garments. Each square carried distinct memories. At a recent gathering, we discovered that most of us happened to be wearing scarves Susan had made for us.

Her knitting alone might be a sufficient lifetime achievement, but Susan is also a rich literary and artistic resource, an endlessly interested and enthusiastic traveler through the world and through life, a doting mother, a fabulous cook, and a fun, funny and generous friend and human being. Happy, happy birthday, Susan, and many more to come!