Hanging Upside Down: Another Perspective


by Jen Dunlap

As I write this, the rain pours down outside. It is a warm, slightly scented, spring rain that gleans the faintest hint of Magnolia x loebneri. There are a few not far from here and I am grateful. For this smell, this rain, and for this day, I am grateful. Our connection to nature sustains us. Just before the rain began we finished a planting of Hosta, Pulmonaria, and Astillbe around the Horse Chestnut in our yard. I can’t stop gardening! The sticky buds of the Aesculus plump and ripe, hang in a protective embrace around the new transplants. The heroic Anne Frank wrote about the Horse Chestnut in her diary from February 23, 1944, the following:

“Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, from my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.”

Our connection to nature sustains us.

What does springtimIMG_4256e mean to you? Maybe springtime means digging your hands into soil heated and drying by the sun. The digging is easy these days. Maybe springtime is finally being able to plant that vegetable garden with the seeds you’ve saved and sourced so well. Seeds in hand, you place them, each one, with a bit of tenderness and hope. Maybe springtime is the warm days after a steady, slumbering winter, movement and energy gaining in force. Maybe springtime is the airing out of ideas, perspiring in passion and fervor. Maybe it is simply the sight of leaf nodes swelling to green, the sweet succulence of Hamamelis, nutty and warm on the nose. Or it’s the flowing sap of Maple, their buds turning red along the roadsides, hinting toward the future offerings of a kaleidoscope of oranges, reds, and yellows. Or maybe it’s the barking of gulls, the return of the Osprey, the loon, and the raygun chirp of the flashy male cardinals. To me, Hanging Upside Down by David Byrne sums up how I’ve been feeling lately.

It has been a long winter but there is great movement here at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Behind us now are the mountains of mulch, ceaseless in their endeavor to punish the timid for we have arrived to a spring sweeter than all the springs before it. Sweeter because we are here and it is now and we are yearning to be witnesses! And while the Primula denticultatas bloom, defiant in their flashes of purple, the shifting patterns emerge. Painted turtles bathe on the bankIMG_4304s of tadpole ponds, while rivers of tulips threaten arias of riotous color. Procreation is high of mind. These gardens are alive, awake from the slumbering days of winter and moving, steadily onward, renewed with this ever-strengthening season of change.

Our connection to nature sustains us.

The birds and the bees are singing for me, and this is the song I heard them singing.