My garden is dormant. The Christmas tree awaits being cut until closer to The Day. So this weekend I went to The Phantom Gardener in the Hudson Valley to buy some holidays bulbs to cheer up the house and my pre-winter solstice blues. I bought a bunch of paper whites and three amaryllis bulbs in white, light pink, and wine rose. Planting them and watching them grow is sort of like having a living advent calendar (without the chocolate treats behind each door my children adored.) First I put eleven of the dozen paper whites in a Le Fanion polka-dotted green bowl filled with stones. (The red pitcher, which I plan to fill with ivy from my garden or boxwood mixed with lilies in a couple of weeks, is also from the same charming French store in Greenwich Village.)
I had one paper white bulb that wouldn't fit so I stuck it an unpolished brass bowl I had bought last spring in Orissa, India. All the other items the man was selling in a remote tribal village were shiny and bright but this one was dark with age and inattention. It was made by his grandfather, he told me. Now this bowl from a century ago and a half a world away gives me immeasurable pleasure sitting atop my fireplace mantle while I await its fragrant blossom.
Finally, I found an empty urn on the patio outside that my former boyfriend left when he moved back to the city and broke my heart. (There's some symbolism in the urn, no? ) I've always liked the lines of it, and the amaryllis and the abandoned vase seem happily at home atop the hope chest that had belonged to my ex-husband's mother (Is this some kind of memorial to dead love?) I suspect the many-hued amaryllis flowers will be glorious come Christmas--and my scarred heart filled with the joy that accompanies this time of year. After all, tis the season to be. . . and all that.