Our Northern friends think we are funny when we gasp at 19 and 20 degree weather, but a recent forecast for days of these temperatures with little relief for thawing had us scurrying to clear the shelves at Home Depot of materials for wrapping pipes and covering foliage. On the day before the predicted hard freeze, as I watered, then unscrewed water hoses and prepared to wrap faucets, I discovered one plucky narcissus opening little white stars in brave bloom. I brought it inside to grace my kitchen window sill. The petals have turned to parchment. Little heralds of flowering to come, they are paper stars of hope.
In the evening after I picked the flower, Joe helped me with shaking out large wraps for citrus trees, azaleas, and container plants. We were on our back porch, and after the first big whisk of a sheet, there was a mighty flapping and bustle on top of our heads. As I cowered, I realized we had startled a dove who had made her nest in an empty hanging basket by the back door. She gave us as much a fright as we had given her, and flew away indignantly to watch us tuck plants in for the night and leave night lights on. The porch lights must have helped her and her babies keep warm, too. They sing their morning song to me every day, thank you notes.