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Kate Forrest: Seasons of Salisbury: February

Kate Forrest

I’m in sandals — and loving it! — as I crunch over willow oak leaves to take snapshots of our newly blooming camellias. The hot pink tea-cup blooms are a welcome sight, promising some color on the gray rainy days forecast. Though right now it feels like nothing can eclipse this beautiful week — sun, 70s, and a blissful feeling of winter taking a bow to spring.

On a drive around town, I spy pink blossoms on Lee Street as the first round of flowering trees dot the streets of Salisbury. At home, new-green Narcissus shoots are plentiful, and the cursed greenbrier is already thriving. The devil’s wrapping yarn, as they call it, has wound its prickly vines over our azaleas. The uphill battle for controlling it has begun.

The warm weather has also brought the return of another nuisance. At night, as I’m taking out the recycling, I catch the shiny glint of a palmetto bug as it slips under the screen door into the house. I scowl and gingerly pick up an old sneaker — you gotta be smooth and quick. With confidence and focus, I strike. The sneaker’s heel cracks the exoskeleton. Success!

There is good with the bad. While working from my writer’s desk, a bird catches my eye. A cedar waxwing is hopping around inside one of the holly trees. A scout, perhaps. The trees are covered with bright red berries, ready for the flock, and my binoculars are on standby for the few weeks of the year when I deem myself a “great birder.” This occasion is celebrated by my coffee table display of the 1995 edition of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds (Eastern Region), last used to look up “whip-poor-will” after my father’s encounter with one in Pennsylvania.

One night this week, my husband and I enjoy whisky sours on the patio. With the sweet summer-like breeze blowing, we have a turn around the yard to take stock of the seasonal changes. We transplanted bulbs from a shaded backyard bed to a sunny patch in the front yard. After fighting through brush to reach them, getting countless scratches, and chopping up half the bulbs (I’m not the best gardener), I am determined the surviving plants will grow flowers this spring. The stems of the tulips look limp, but the daffodils are strong and sturdy. We’ll see what comes of it.

The clover is sprouting and spreading. In a yard made from a patchwork of moss and grass, the clover is a fitting addition. The bees will come when it blooms. I wish we had more to offer them at the start of the season, but the wisteria will follow soon enough.

This early showing of spring has been intoxicating, but the mosquito bite on my side, acquired while watching a sunset this week, is enough to make me pause and give winter its due.

Kate Forrest lives in Salisbury. She has written nonfiction essays for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and her debut novel, The Crusader’s Heart, was published in September 2018.

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