The daffodils are blooming, as are the camellias. The camellias are more brown than pink this year, due to the cold winter, but they are blooming none the less. The tops of the trees are blasted, though, with a foot or so of each high branch brown and crisp. There is a spray of cheerful forsythia draped over the fence behind the (still leafless) rose of sharon thicket. Below the rose of sharon, where I can see them from the living room window, I have moved the Hellebores that used to live in the shade of the ornamental plum tree by the kitchen. I thought they would thrive there, and that I would admire them when I gazed out the window on a cold day, but they have been ravaged by squirrels that seem to think that patch of ground is their private property. Other plant friends are starting to wake up - the snouts of lilies are poking above ground, the oregano is green and growing, and there are buds on the lilacs, though the flowers are weeks away, I think. I cut the year's first asparagus tonight. It is spring, truly.
I can't recall ever feeling so relieved that winter is over, as if this year winter were some malevolent force that we have suffered through. Like the camellias, I feel blackened by it. We did go sledding, and drink hot chocolate, and celebrate Christmas. And yet I hope there isn't another winter like this last one for a long time.