This is the month for celebration. There is, of course, the prospect of spring. It seems, no matter how cold or miserable the weather has been, the Daffodils never disappoint. How is this possible? A million Daffodils all discussing the matter underground and then, on cue, popping through the hard, muddy, wet earth in unison all over the island. Why is it we have become so cocky sure that they will arrive that the Chamber of Commerce has put a lot of stock into promoting this weekend? Every B&B and hotel room is filled, stores are stocked and decorated, restaurants use this as a target reopening date and most of all, in all good faith, the ferries are booked. Not only with visitors coming to the island but with antique cars coming from far and near to be in this most celebrated of parades. It’s enough to boggle the mind of the most skeptical among us. What if there’s a snowstorm? It’s possible. What if the daffodils just can’t struggle through the still frozen earth. Could happen. But it never has, so we collectively see the glass half full and plod along getting ready for the big event. Most of us are just happy to welcome spring – at last.
Spring has such a positive ring to it. We spring into action when spring springs along. Lots of meaning there. As a crossword puzzler I like words that have different meanings when used in different ways. .
We think of the four seasons as a Northeast thing. It’s not. Spring actually comes to all parts of the country, even in Key West where I am while writing – for one more week.. The change of seasons is subtle here. It begins to get hotter. Not like in August, but there is a definite shift in temperature. During March we occasionally put on a long sleeved shirt, even a jacket once! But now it’s as hot in the evening as during the day.
The flowers are blooming and the birds are making a racket on their migration north. We didn’t hear them in Feb. and March but now they’re quite evident. Sometimes tropical places define climates in terms of wet or dry, hurricane or monsoon season.
I love walking around Old Town in Key West. The architecture is fascinating: a combination of Bahamian style with wrap around porches on two stories, old Conch cottages with as few as three rooms, charming gingerbread trim like you might find in San Francisco and old sea captains homes with widow’s walks on top. These are as grand as our homes on Orange Street overlooking the harbor. Houses here are wood shingled, not like the rest of Florida where they build with concrete. Those are called CBS (concrete block structures).
As I walk around town I also see the trees sprouting blossoms. I can’t identify them. They’re all tropical flowers. I don’t know what they are, being a New Englander. Some are bright and colorful but without scent. Others exude a wonderful aroma and the whole town smells good. It’s a set up for my coming back to Nantucket. The seasons are supposedly related to climate, but we know that isn’t true on Nantucket. We have always gone right from winter-like weather to summer in a flash. Okay, so we get a day or two here and there that feels better than winter, almost spring, but we can’t always count on it. And when it comes it may be so brief that we think we almost imagined a beautiful warm day. How many rainy cold Daffodil Weekends have you experienced?
My new book, “Nantucket Cottages & Gardens” is just a month away from publication. One chapter is about window boxes and I’m already thinking about filling planters around my deck. I always get carried away with too much color, too many plants, and too much to water. I really really wish that hibiscus, fichus, orchids, palm trees of all sorts, frangipani (love that name), and other tropical plants and trees would grow in Nantucket. The variety of vegetation here is quite spectacular; sub tropical not suburban Florida.
I took a few pictures just walking around my neighborhood. These flowering trees against the blue sky dotted with cottony clouds make the landscape of this island paradise – which is what. people call the place the way we refer to our island as “the gray lady.” Don’t you think “paradise” is a whole lot more uplifting? I wish I could take home some clippings and re-pot. Don’t know if this is possible, but by next week I’ll be over the moon about crocuses and daffodils and Key West tropical will be a memory until next winter.