Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February Crushes: Dreaming of Roses in the Dead of Winter

As I type, the snow is falling again.  No, not just snow, and not just falling.  It's sleet, and it's slicing the night air, encasing the trees, and leaving the snowbanks, roads, and sidewalks coated with a slick skim of ice.  We've had one record-breaking snowstorm (32") in Portland this winter, followed by several smaller ones.  Mr. Magpie and I have become intimately acquainted with the fancy ergonomically designed shovels we bought for the new house, which, for much of January and February, has looked like some version of these photos I shot earlier in the week:

Yes, it's sweet, and don't get me wrong, we love our Little House in the Snow.  I love pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder as I put another log on the fire or tunnel my way out the back door, and Mr. Magpie loves chopping wood and practicing new ways to tie his wool muffler, but I'm not kidding when I say we are ready for the Big Shift.  If you live in a place with real Winters with a capital W, you know the shift I mean: that palpable change, that first day when you walk outside and realize that the sun has risen just high enough in the sky and lingered just long enough at the end of day to begin to warm the ground.  There might still be snow, but beneath it is the soil, and you know this for one reason: suddenly, you can smell it.  

And there's the air, too.  Even though it's still cold as hell, there's a slight softening.  The wind doesn't whip at your cheeks, the cold doesn't sink into your bones.  Maybe you even leave your parka unzipped as you shovel the slushsnowice from the driveway.

Then early one morning, you spot a Goldfinch on the bird feeder, and he has shed his drab winter coat in favor of brilliant spring gold.  And a week or two later, you catch sight of that first scarlet flash of a redwing blackbird.  Snow or no snow, Spring has come.  The first flowers can't be far behind (let's hope a few of the crocus bulbs I planted in the grass escaped the greedy clutches of my friends the squirrels).

Two days ago, I was in the yard scolding chatting with the squirrels when I sensed the first wee hint that spring may be on its way.  As I watched the sun fall behind the white pines, I actually felt the warmth of its rays.  This was all I needed.  Back inside I went to pore over my garden catalogs.  I'm obsessed right now with roses, everything from my favorite rugosas, to classic climbers and David Austin English roses.  

David Austin Carding Mill
In my last garden I grew several kinds of roses, including a deep pink wild one that seemed to volunteer itself in gardens all over the neighborhood.  Here at the new house, I have certain roses in mind, like "Carding Mill," pictured above, but I'd love to hear from you about some of your favorites, too

And just because I need a little Summer beauty during Winter's home stretch,I thought I'd share a few photos of roses I've taken over the past three years.  Those of you in colder climes can think of them as armfuls of summer's beauty and scent from me to you.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gigi Thibodeau
Peaks Island Maine, Gigi Thibodeau
London, Gigi Thibodeau

At Borough Market, London, Gigi Thibodeau

St Paul's Cathedral, London, Gigi Thibodeau

Peaks Island, Maine, Gigi Thibodeau


  1. I absolutely love thinking of roses this time of year. We have at least 20 rose bushes in our yard and each year I want more. I love the Peace Rose, Graham Thomas, Oranges and Lemons is like a carnival. We had a rugosa very much like the one deep pink one in your pictures and I think my husband killed it trying to move it last year. Sniff! I hope Spring comes soon for you. Our daffodils should be blooming within the next week. I am very excited.

    1. Oh, Marilyn, how exciting that it's almost time for your daffodils! Here, I'm making do with the ones I buy at, yes, Trader Joe's, but we'll have them blooming in a few more weeks, so I can hold on a little longer.

      Twenty rose bushes sounds like heaven to me, and thanks for listing some of your favorites! I love the Peace Rose and Graham Thomas, but I don't know Oranges and Lemons, so I'm off to look it up. I hope that rugosa comes back. They are truly my favorites for their wild-looking beauty and their scent.

    2. Oh, I just looked up Oranges and Lemons! It's fabulous!!!!

  2. Hi Gigi,

    I too am dreaming of roses... I am currently expanding a flower bed to have room to add three more rose bushes and other plants for this coming season.

    May your spring in Maine arrive as fast as possible.


    1. So now I'm wondering what kinds of roses you're planning to add, Liz!

  3. Gorgeous images and words! I do love a real winter, but I am finally ready for spring. I feel it in the air too. It's definitely on its way.

    Glad to have stumbled onto your blog! It's beautiful.

    1. Thank you, Alyson! I feel just as you do. Winter is wonderful, but now I'm ready for those daffodils to bloom!

      I'm glad you found me, too! Now I get to come visit you.

  4. Visiting via Relyn ... so glad she shared this link. The roses are beautiful.

    1. Aw, I love Relyn. So glad to have you here. Thanks for your comment!

  5. oh girl ...
    goodness, i love how you pull me in every direction with your words ...
    that first day when you walk outside and realize that the sun has risen just high enough in the sky and lingered just long enough at the end of day to begin to warm the ground
    ... so perfectly perfect.
    i said to a friend as we walked down the slushy street the other day that i prefer a day that sings the hope of spring even more than a thirty degree day in summer ~ there just is nothing like it ...
    even after you've shovelled and scooped and slipped and slid too long through winter and omgosh you've had such a winter!
    but (am i going on too long) ... but, to be in your sweet, sweet home for this winter must have been so special for you! and now, to plan all of your plantings ~ so much joy and hope and excitement!
    all of your photos are gorgeous. my mom's favourite was roses and she grew quite a few when i was younger. friends gave me a morden hardy rose after she passed away. it bloomed so profusely, i was sure it must have been mom who planted it! i know i took photos and will try to find one for you : )
    to you i say, sing spring!

    1. Oh, pg, you always get me so perfectly, my friend! And yes, you are right about that first spring day. You are also right about winter in the new home. I can't tell you how much we have LOVED lighting a fire almost every night and just hanging out on the sofa with the kitties. Heaven.

      I'm going to look up the rose you mentioned. Thanks for letting me know about it. Please do send me a photo if you find it! I love that roses were your mom's favorite.

      We're on the homestretch to spring, Sweetness! xoxo

  6. Love, love, love this post, my dear friend. You just captured that moment I long for with your description of the shift to spring.
    New Dawn always satisfies my need for a real rose scent, btw.

    1. Sending you the biggest hug, Marlowe! Love you, my sweet. xoxo

      P.S. New Dawn is a necessity!

  7. Sending you spring. The almond trees are starting to bud here.


  8. I just ADORE your sweet little house... seen on my iphone, but now admired in all it's gorgeousness on a much bigger screen. And as much as I am enchanted with it in winter, I can't wait to see if you share some photos when spring flowers adorn its outer walls. Oh, I hope you do!

  9. We don't live anywhere with a real winter and I have never felt the Big Shift. Ours is more gradual. The world warms up slowly with a few taunting cold days. Then suddenly you spot a crocus - then a few daffodil. That's when you know spring has sprung. And, if you are like me, you do a happy dance that lasts at least a week.


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