Is it spring? Is it winter?

As I write, the Weather Channel reports that a late winter storm is blanketing the Northwest and the Midwest while warm temps tease those in warmer climes.

Author Kawaguchi of Tales from the Cafe expresses eloquently the fickle fits of nature here:

People tend to feel happy when spring arrives, especially after a cold winter. When spring begins, however, cannot be pinpointed to one particular moment. There is no one day that clearly marks when winter ends and spring begins [despite what the calendar tells us]. Spring hides inside winter. We notice it emerging with our eyes, our skin and other senses. We find it in new buds, a comfortable breeze and the warmth of the sun. It exists alongside winter.       ~ Poet Toshikazu Kawaguchi


Azaleas are coloring our neighborhood with hot pink. Gaudy camellias, speckled fuchsia and pale pink proclaim glorious springtime.


In the preserve and in our back yard, allamanda blooms are flirting with birds. Bees, soon to arrive, will extract its nectar.

Although native to Brazil, allamandaan evergreen tropical climber with bright yellow trumpet flowers and glossy green leaves has survived cold, north Florida winters for years. Like oleander, which blooms later, all parts of the allamanda are mildly poisonous, but when used in traditional medicine, it can treat liver tumors, jaundice, and malaria.


Just now I’m remembering a story I wrote years ago about the push-pull of the beautiful existing alongside the poisonous. In Vials of Venom, Oil of Healing, I wrote about the contrast between the lethal and the lovely, recalling how my mother’s injection with venom actually helped detect environmental triggers for her asthma attacks and then suggest a course of treatment. The story was later expanded as Chapter 16, “A Healing Miracle,” Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl.


The Blunder

Good advice from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day.

Two weeks ago I had the chance to test the truth of this maxim and then recover from the blundering effects . . .

On a chilly Saturday morning, I woke intending to make warming oatmeal: steel-cut oats with sliced almonds, raisins, and dried cranberries. I began, of course, heating up a pan of salted water on the stove top and later adding the oats and dried fruit. All went well until I opened the microwave door and a plate flew out. Not a genuine paper plate which we usually use for heating up food. No, a styrofoam imposter (Where did that come from?), floating down to the glass stove top, gluing itself onto a hot burner. Picture this:

Quickly, I got out the Barkeeper’s Friend and dusted the glued-on glob of plastic with scouring powder. No good!

Frantic, my next thought was to check with Mr. Google, who had the perfect solution. Make a thick paste of baking soda and apply to the plastic glob.

Google image of baking soda paste on cook top, looking much like my own


Ipso-presto, the baking soda paste worked!

In a matter of minutes, the plastic mess wiped off completely. The cooktop surface was restored. When I turned on the stove again, what appeared was a red-hot burner without a trace of the blunder. (Microwave light reflecting near center of burner.)

Disaster averted! Now you know a tip you can use. . . or pass on to someone else.


What stage of spring are you experiencing right now? (Of course, in the southern hemisphere, you are anticipating fall and winter. )

What blooms and buds do you most enjoy in this season?

Any blunders to report? Solutions welcome too!