Thursday, November 17, 2005

Elizabeth Lawrence

We've had rather a nasty turn in the weather here; a week ago I was about in shorts and T shirts (more often than not, wearing my Edward Hopper T shirt, showing a bunch of rabbits in an all-night diner). However, in a few days our temperature dropped from 70 to 17 degrees, with 45 mile an hour winds. We were victims of the NAO, the North Atlantic Oscillation. A large area of warm air has now encamped over Greenland, which blocks the circumpolar wind circulation,and causes the jet stream to buckle southward over the central and eastern U.S., and so all of the cold air which had been trapped over Alaska, pours down over us. Unfortunately this tends to be a long-term pattern, and portends a continuing and cold winter. It is therefore time to start pulling garden books off my library shelves.(When Liz and I bought this house, one nice sunny room became her office, and the cool, dark, back room had a whole wall of oak bookshelves, so was a natural for my library and den. Strangely, her office is still just that, but my den first saw a hide-a-bed for guests show up, then became a repository for miscellaneous other furniture that became surplus when Liz bought new stuff for the living room, and finally a piano showed up.) Anyway, I can still just get to the book shelves by leaning over a love seat, and the first book that always comes off in the cold weather, is Elizabeth Lawrence's "The Little Bulbs". If you don't know Miss Lawrence, you should. Unfortunately, we can only know her through her books now, as she died in 1985, but know her we still can, as her personality comes shining through every page of her writings. She took up writing rather late in life, and her total output consists of only a handful of books, most consisting of collections of her newspaper columns for the Charlotte Observer. I have a first edition copy of 'The Little Bulbs", and though it's getting rather more threadbare from reading, I'd not likely trade it for any other garden book you might offer me. Miss Lawrence's writings feature a remarkable sense of place; namely her North Carolina garden, and reading them is like having a pleasant chat with your oldest, dearest, gardening friend, whose gentle enthusiasm for all things horticultural is a constant. As the winter deepens, other books will come off my shelves, and I'll mention some of them, but the first is the best.

"North Atlantic Oscillation."

A name for my misery!
Long and cold. Sigh.
Expected, but not welcomed.
NAO. Europe is almost certainly enjoying the warm weather they snatched from you.
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