We did get more snow, but the weather here has gotten cranky and they say the snow will be rained out and snowed back again before January is over. Something like that is going on outside right now – hard to say whether what’s falling is rain or snow. I saw footprints that looked suspiciously like the woodchuck, who should be asleep in her burrow until next month. She would not have seen her shadow this morning, but there’s nothing for her to eat so she’d be wise to go back to sleep. I wonder if she knows about Punxsutawney Phil. How did he end up getting all the woodchuck glory? Do you have to be a male woodchuck to get the job, and if so, how do we know Punxsutawney Phil qualifies? Did some foreign agency help him out? Are the deer behind this? I wouldn’t put anything past the deer.
The narcissus bulbs I potted up indoors after Christmas are starting to bloom, filling the space vacated by outgoing bells, holly, and red ribbons with snow-colored flowers and head-spinning scent. It’s said that their fragrance, rather than their appearance, is responsible for their name: Narcissus, intoxicating to the wood nymphs. In English, we call this variety, the one that’s too tender to be outdoors in northern climates, the paperwhite. This name is most agreeable to a writer; and maybe that’s what makes me put so many of them into saucers full of pebbles or pots of dirt, set them near my desk, water them, and hope. Other narcissi – big yellow jonquils, white, yellow, and even pink daffodils – are waiting patiently in their beds in the yard and garden, for spring. Because I nudge the paperwhites into bloom in January, they represent winter to me, not spring: winter as pure beauty. Winter to be appreciated for itself, not as a way-station to somewhere else. This is how I look at them, as a kind of indoor snow, but the paperwhites themselves lean against the window glass. They grow toward the slowly increasing hours of light.