Kukka by Sally Kilgore: Jessamine!

ROCKWALL, TX – February 28, 2022 — February in Texas, oh fickle month.  A temperamental twenty-eight day period, faithless and unpredictable, (though, March can be nearly as capricious.)  Upon reaching February, Texans and those settlers who arrived over fifty years ago, long enough to be considered a Texan despite the scoffs of those born on hallowed ground, have had enough of winter’s delightful cool air and the hint of frostiness that brings an occasional teasing nip our way. Those who have not enough, move to Colorado.  By February, we may, or may not, have had opportunity to wear our sweaters.  This though, is where some natives stand out conspicuously, striding sidewalks for exercise on sunny, 59 degree days, in parkas, knit caps and gloves.  I refrain from voicing my superiority in this regard, in my strong desire to consider myself Texan, as noted above.

Days may burst forth warm and balmy in February, 70 – 75 degrees not uncommon.  Perennials in the garden begin to pop up green buds ‘neath winter dried foliage. We are so anxious to escape the four walls, where indoor winter projects planned, idle in the back of our minds as we dawdle in lethargy; longing to dig, plant, cultivate.  Hours later, the winds turn and soon blast our tiny buds with bitter cold, freezing rain and ice pellets, sheathing all surfaces in slippery, solid ice.  Schools close.  Store shelves empty.  The newspaper does not come!  We tap into our pioneer spirit, pull out blankies and books, and guzzle cups of coffee and hot chocolate in front of warm fireplaces, napping frequently despite wicked caffeine buzzes.  Thus Texans survive the beating of brutal elements.  Hibernation ensues, sometimes as long as 2 days (in a typical year.)

Then – as if the angel of mercy has waved wings over, temps rise – 10 and 20 degrees or more per day, and we soar back into the sunny 70’s, within four days’ passage.  Anticipating Spring ( we know better – we do) we burst from the house, roll up freeze cloth, water potted plants and young shrubs.  Enthused and eager to be in the happy place, the garden, we easily lose sight – of sheets of thick, solid ice that have taken firm hold on shady spots, unwilling to loosen their grip despite the warmth; in this short tale, particularly on an uncovered patio area. Thus, on a seductively warm, February day, a woman of a certain age may find herself, flat on her back on a sizeable patch of ice, having cracked open her elbow, conked her head and performed the splits – when she has never previously accomplished this feat in her life.  After some moments, she lays, looking at the clear blue sky above, thanking the good Lord, the angels, and all the fairies surrounding, that kept bones from snapping or shattering.  This is when she is thankful for bruises, aches and pains, and over the counter pain relief.

And after she has pulled herself upright, called the cat in from his wandering and limps toward the door – her eyes brighten to see the Carolina Jessamine spiraling up an iron obelisk, towards the warming sun – preparing to ease open – saturated, butter yellow blooms, in February.

By Sally Kilgore of Rockwall. Sally is a former resident of Rowlett, and a recent transplant, across the lake, to Fate, Texas. She is married to her long time flame, Chris Kilgore. When not writing, gardening, filling in at the local flower shop or hanging out with grandkids, Sally devotes her time to serving Bob Kilgore, a generously sized, Tuxedo cat with panache.

Read more of her column, Kukka (Finnish for bloom or flower) at BlueRibbonNews.com. Get in touch with Sally via email at sallyakilgore@gmail.com.