Day 141: Wintersweet

A few weeks ago when we went to the National Arboretum we were walking through the Asian section and when we rounded a corner, we all wondered what the beautiful smell was. I assumed, because it was winter, that someone with heavy cologne had recently passed, but either Alex or Andrew noticed a flowering bush. The plant’s sign labeled it as a wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox). Andrew spied some seed pods, and the plant propagator that he is, took one. So did I.

While he was staying with us he researched the plant and how to grow a wintersweet bush. He placed them on damp paper towels on a tray and put the tray in a plastic bag. He instructed me to check the seeds often while he and Alex were in Atlanta, adding water if necessary, and taking note if they sprouted.

I checked often, and was finally rewarded a few days ago with a sprouted seed. Today I saw another.

I planted the first sprouted seed this morning. Fingers crossed that in a few years time, we’ll have a delightfully lovely scented winter flowering bush in our yard.

Day 35: A few delights at an aquatic garden

Kenilworth

I was able to truly test out my new camera today on a visit to Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens this morning. It is not an optimal time to visit the park, and part of it is closed off due to the pandemic, but there were some photographic opportunities.

The lotus flowers were all gone, leaving their trypophobia-triggering seed pods in their place. I tend to get a little squeamish when looking at the pods, but I also find them delightful.

Most of the wildflowers were gone, but there was still some color. I especially delighted in seeing the jewel weed. It’s always been a favorite of mine. I grew up calling it touch me not, but I think I like jewel weed better — it is supposed to be good for poison ivy rashes.

This pile of dirt brought back a delightful memory. When I was quite young — maybe seven or so, three homes were built on our street. For a time there were large piles of dirt on the lots as the builders dug out dirt for the foundations and basements. I remember climbing those hills with friends, and alone, and purposely falling down them to recreate my favorite scene in the film Snowfire where the main character, a girl slightly older than I was, falls down a large hill, maybe even part of a small mountain, and breaks her wrist (leg?). This is a pivotal part in the film, if I recall correctly, because her parents think the horse has harmed her and plan to kill the horse. Anyway, I fell down that pile of dirt a lot that summer and this pile of dirt made me remember that other pile of dirt in my life (although this is much smaller than mine was — I think).

The last delight of Kenilworth was this blue kazoo on a picnic bench. I was sure that it was left there by a child who’d recently been delightfully blowing on it and making squawky kazoo music.

Day 13: Mostly the Protest

Something I was unaware of before somewhere in the middle of the night when I got up because I could not sleep is the fact that a section of Bethesda was once a thriving Black community. This section is now full of shopping centers, fast food restaurants, gas stations and other businesses. The only building left from that time is the Macedonia Baptist Church. There are also a few cemeteries where Black bodies were buried. One was paved over and is now a parking lot and another is the future site of self-storage units.

Today Bethesda is mostly white. According the U.S. Census bureau Whites comprise 81.5% of the Bethesda population and Blacks only comprise 4.0%. That was one thing I felt guilty about when we moved to Bethesda — it was so homogeneous. It is also something my kids feel bad about, having few African American friends in school.


Today’s featured delight was the protest/memorial service for the bodies buried under the construction site. I actually tried to convince myself to not go, that there would be plenty of people there — after all it was featured on the Kojo Nnamdi show the day before — and I didn’t need to be one of them. But I had absolutely no reason, other than my slight social anxiety, to not show up. I found some black clothes, cut several zinnias from the garden and grabbed my most somber-looking mask.

I parked in the parking lot of a shopping center I used to shop at when the kids were young and I was too afraid to try to park in down town Bethesda or drive up Rockville Pike. The McDonald’s where we were supposed to meet was about 7 minutes walk. I thought the McDonald’s was on the far side of River Road, so had to cross in a crosswalk instead of at a light to get to the meeting place. Halfway across the street two other protesters told me we were meeting at the church instead, so I joined them and walked a few more minutes to Macedonia Baptist Church.

After chatting with other protesters (all masked of course) and introducing myself to my friend’s daughter (from last night’s Zoom meeting) we all walked back to the McDonald’s.

The reason we marched to McDonald’s is because its parking lot is the only place to view the cemetery. Once there we sang protest songs, heard the names of the dead read aloud and prayed African prayers for them. Then we walked to where we could view the cemetery and wove our flowers into the fence separating the McDonald’s parking lot from the construction site cemetery.

It really was beautiful. Well, except for the cops and security guards.

Other delights today were:

Negroni cocktail

Day 8: Mostly Birds and Bugs in the Backyard

Today was more productive. I organized the freezer, noting what was in there on an app I have used for years, but never kept up with it. Maybe this time. I also made hamburger buns and filled the hummingbird feeder. And finished laundry from yesterday.

Today’s delights included:

  • The first really ripe fig that the birds did not find first that Dean and I shared for a lunch treat.
  • The glorious weather! I think the Capital Weather Gang called it delightful (and if they didn’t, they should have).
  • The way the hummingbird patiently waited on a nearby branch of the rose of sharon while I poured nectar (one part sugar four parts water, NO DYE!) into the feeder, then flew to the feeder as soon as I was back in the house.
  • The cicada that landed in the same rose of sharon while I ate my oatmeal this morning, close enough for me to see its black eyes. It seemed to listen as I told it I was very much looking forward to its red-eyed cousins’ visit next spring.
  • The oddly large splotch of rainbow all the way across the room from my large faceted crystal that sits on the window sill.
  • The goldfinches feasting on the spent zinnias (glad I didn’t deadhead them today like I planned).
  • The PDF of the Mura board that Tim sent today with all the kind words from my colleagues.
The file is here if you want to read the notes, but don’t feel obligated.

Day 2: The Last Monday

Well, the first Monday for this blog, but today is my last Monday at work. That in itself is an extreme delight — and will continue to be so all day. Mondays are typically slow for me in terms of meetings, so I don’t really dread them, but they are still Mondays and the beginning of a work week.


Today’s featured delight is water, specifically my first sip when I am mildly dehydrated. I tend to wake up 4 to 5 hours after I fell asleep, often this is around 2 am. This morning was one of those 2 am wake-ups. I also tend to not drink enough water during the day so I often wake up parched. This morning was also one of those parched mornings. I poured myself a glass of water and took a sip. To me, that first taste of water at 2 am in the morning (or whenever I wake up), is often the most exquisite taste in the world. Better than a good glass of white wine, better than my favorite cocktail (the Last Word), better than subsequent sips of water at any other time of day.

Have you read The Search for Delicious? It is a children’s illustrated chapter book by Natalie Babbitt about a ruler who is on a quest to find the perfect definition of delicious. His subjects name their favorite foods but soon everyone is arguing with each other about the definition of delicious. I always think of that book when I have my first sip of water at 2 am.

Click here to see how The Search For Delicious ends and what the perfect definition of delicious turns out to be. Eventually everyone agrees, after a drought, the perfect description of delicious is that first sip of water after being thirsty. So someone agrees with me!

Other delights of the day were a ripening fig on our fig tree and a sweet note from a developer at work who learned I was retiring.

I heard you were leaving, Dona. If it’s retirement, it’s well deserved and congratulations! Good for you, bad for us—you will be missed. I’ve really appreciated working with you and the rare level of detail and quality you provide on a constant basis. Thank you so much for your direct contribution to so many project successes, and making it look easy. All the best in your next journey Dona.

-Nick