Tuesday, February 11, 2014

from "Grape Hyacinths"

49 No. Main | oil on canvas | Jesse Halsey
By Reverend Jesse Halsey | c1932 | unfinished frament

They come up every year in the same spot under the snowball bush, though planted eighty years ago.

Grape hyacinths are like that; “naturalizing,” the botanists call it; perpetuating themselves year after year, if the environment is favorable.

It is a sunny exposure in the southeast corner of the old garden. Boxwood no longer in trim border lines, but grown rampant with the years, shuts off the bite of the east wind that comes swirling viciously in shore all through the early springtime.

By May Day they come out, almost invariably, just before the apple blossoms. As a boy I used to look for them—after I heard their story. That is fifty years ago. Seldom have I been there in the springtime, these intervening years, but my sister used to write; “Auntie’s hyacinths are blooming in their corner.”

The other day, by chance, I was in that seaside village and the old garden came to mind. Untying the sagging gate, I went in.

There they were, pushing through the leaves, little sturdy spikes of blue, vertical slender bunches of “grapes”—well named.

Strangers live there now. The brick paths are uneven and grass-grown. The old peony clumps are all gone; likely some remnant of the tiger lily bed will assert itself before [summer].

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