Cold noses and roses

It is May 14 and I am shivering.

Outside it is 45 degrees. Inside it is 59 degrees.

My nose is cold, I’m wrapped in a blanket, and I will not turn on the furnace.

I kept the furnace on for an unusually long time this spring, not turning it off until May 1. But then I had to turn it off because my rule is that I must have an entire month in both spring and fall where I turn on neither heat nor air conditioning.

I blame it on my dad, who was fighting the energy crisis long before the government got on board.

And I figure if my dad was still alive, his heat would not be on, but his roses would be covered in a warm blanket of mulch and insulation.

He worried more about the roses freezing than he did about the people inside the house.

I know, because I slept in the room over the garage.

I don’t know how many of you have ever slept in a bedroom that is above an unheated garage. If you have, then you grew up hardy pioneer stock. Even with the register vent wide open, that room was never fully warm in winter. I can remember fighting for space near the vent as my sisters and I dressed for school in the morning.

So when I moved away from home and it came time to practice my own energy conservation techniques, I continued my dad’s tough stance on energy consumption — don’t pay for what you can do without.

Now I’m just struggling to stay warm like all the perennials I transplanted yesterday. The truth is, I think they’re doing better than I am.

So it’s off to bed with a book for me. I’ll pile on the blankets and warm myself with a thriller. As for the roses, mine died long ago, except for a few struggling bushes my dad planted 20 years ago. And they’re on their own.



Turn the radio up

I was breezing along Hwy. 16 today on the way back from a plant sale in Bangor when I was suddenly overtaken by the desire to turn the radio up.

These days, I often drive with no radio on. I pay attention to the road, I follow directions, and I think deep thoughts.

But today, in the first week of May, it was 91 degrees and I suddenly felt a little bit like 17 again. Maybe it’s because “Temptation Eyes” by the Grass Roots was playing. And as I sang along, I abandoned the air conditioning and rolled the window down. Because when you’re 17 and one of your favorite songs is playing, you have to drive with the window down.

I think it’s a rule — when you’re 17.

Surely you’ve driven next to a car with a barely legal driver at the wheel and you are treated to the rumble of bass and a song you don’t want to hear at all. But the driver of the car is sure the whole world wants to hear it.

That’s what you believe when you’re 17.

So “Temptation Eyes” accompanied me and the rest of traffic down the highway and let me relive my teenage years for a few minutes tonight.

Maybe I’ll sing a few choruses when I’m digging in the dirt on Saturday, trying to ignore my aching knees as I recapture that giddy feeling of youth.



Dreaming of lilacs

I will be sleeping on lilac-scented sheets tonight.

Oh, don’t worry. I haven’t gone all fancy and started putting scented sheets in the dryer.

What dryer?

I’m hanging my sheets on the clothesline that runs parallel to a row of lilacs in my backyard. The scent is so strong that I took my time pegging items to the line, lingering in the sunshine, blue skies and the scent of lilacs carried on the brisk wind that will dry my laundry in no time.

The lilacs are both practical and whimsical. They give privacy in my tiny little backyard, taking up precious room that I really don’t have to spare. The first bush was planted by Dad, dug up from his yard and carefully planted in mine.

I soon enough knew that one wouldn’t be enough, so on every trip home I would dig seedlings until I had a sturdy row of loveliness marching along the neighbor’s fence line.

To me, lilacs are the strongest sign of spring. When daffodils don’t bloom and rabbits bite the head off tulips, the lilacs persevere, scenting the air with the most delightful aroma that says spring and home and Dad.

Yes, it was Dad who was all about the yard and flowers and bushes and vegetables. Mom always had flowers on the table, but it was Dad who provided them.

So when I fall asleep taking deep breaths of lilacs, I will also be breathing in the history of home and family.

That’s a pretty good way to fall asleep.