Sunday, February 16, 2014

Phenology and Valentine Mnemonics

I am going through the laborious process of sorting through hundreds of digital photos on my hard drive. As part of the task I am also recording the phenology of the dates of flowers in bloom, bee sightings, and family events. Have you ever wondered how those folks managed to remember which winter was the coldest in their lifetime? Or the longest or mildest? Experiential memories get hooked together and anchored in the brain as signposts to the construction of an identity and a human with a past. There was that Vancouver winter that was so cold the rosemary died, but I can never remember which one it was. Maybe I will find the answer in my photo files. There was also that winter in my childhood in Cactus Lake Saskatchewan when the snowdrifts went up to the roofs. There will be photos in our families albums of my sister and I on the wooden toboggan.

In October 2011 we had quince ripening on our table and our son dressed as the Headless Horseman for Halloween. I had never associated quince with Oct. 31, but now the connection has been made and it will be hard to forget. On February 14, 2014 I saw the first honeybee of the year foraging in pink heather. To tell you the truth, I hardly ever see honeybees on heather, but I did see some honeybees this summer on the heather in the photo above taken in late August on Salt Spring Island, along with the moth that I think is meant to look like a splodge of bird poop. As I rode home on the bus from my bee sighting I saw heather blooming all along the route as if someone had tinted the heather plants in a black and white movie. I brought in 6 used jars at the Ernest Ice Cream shop and bought a jar of sour cherry chip ice cream for five bucks. Our teenage son just about ate the whole thing. "But it was so easy to eat, mom!" he protested. Uh huh. Those big chunks of Okanagan cherries in a custardy ice cream with chocolate chips went down much much too easily.

I encourage you to link family moments with seasonal changes. You will create a family heirloom that can be handed down through the generations and it will help you remember to plant your rosemary in a nice sheltered location.

Oleander, Oleander

Will you bloom again this spring?
I adored you
Then I ignored you
And now to me you're everything
And those white blossoms that you gave freely
Are now just twinkles in your eye
Oh behold her
Oleander grows on the inside

--Sarah Harmer

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