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“It’s only winterbite,” my gardener friend assured me, handing me several mottled leaves from the Christmas Hollys we’d planted last spring in my side yard. Her windblown cheeks, her bulky sweatshirts and jeans, smudged from previous work, bespoke her authority tending gardens. She brightened and leaned over. “See the buds along these branches beneath other stressed leaves? Once the earth warms up, they’ll push them off and form new leaves.”

Like the Christmas Hollys, I, too, suffer from winterbite. So weary of wearing long underwear and multiple layers of heavy clothing, so bone-chilled by arctic winds, so leery of inaccurate weather forecasts, so sun-deprived, so tired of basement walks.

Like everyone, I yearn for the warming sun to quicken my budding greenness with murmuring pastels: pinks, raspberry, peach, rose …



Outside my study window an old lilac bush bears the imprint of the changing seasons, waxing and waning. For the past eight winters I have marveled at rust-colored buds swelling under a wan sun, soon to be split apart, new branches shooting upwards, topped by clusters of fragrant lavender, suggestive of first love. It’s about to happen again.


Tracings of lilacs play within stories of many peoples, including my own. With last year’s brush with cancer, I wondered if I would again experience another blooming of my old bush, enjoy its heady aromas and lush green leaves, and prune and care for it over the summer. It looks like this will happen. More time allotted for new growth in all directions – for all of us! The Gardiner wishes this for us …





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