The first spring day

Let's take an imaginary break at this gazebo in Yorktown, Virginia. I took the photo in May 2013, but we can pretend it's today!

Let’s take an imaginary break at this gazebo in Yorktown, Virginia.
I took the photo in May 2013, but we can pretend it’s today!

“The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.  The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”  — Henry Van Dyke

On March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, we returned to Alexandria to find six inches of snow on the ground.  Really!  I had just left behind our daffodils, finally blooming in York County, and here I was shoveling snow AGAIN during what I thought would be mild weather.  And the first day of spring, according to the calendar, was only three days away.

But, as Van Dyke points out, that’s a very different thing from the first spring day.  The crazy thing is, we had a couple of days that felt like spring weeks ago, minus the flowering trees and other signs of new life.  This year, the warm days seem merely to have provoked more winter weather.

Those of you who live in more northern climates are probably thinking I’m a weather wimp – and you’re right!  Still, I am hoping — yet again — that THIS time, by the time this message is published, we will be having some true springtime weather, not only here, but maybe even north of here.

In any case, I hope this photo will chase away the winter blues, even if your weather does not.  I’m sending you a bouquet of wishes for the lighthearted sound of birdsong, the cheerful color of flowers, and the delicious warmth of bright sunlight.

One year ago today:

Poems by heart


  1. raynard

    Julia, I aired out my van yesterday. Next will be the house, then” get my dogs out to the dog park.( a reason to go to Rita’s and Chick Filet”). I think 7 more cake to baked and push the end of the season to May or June for that. Oh that dash cam I talked about is just like the ones police use to record traffic stops. People use them to record road trips. Also the new phone I got was lighter and cheaper than “the popular ones out there”. I can see the screen and it does the samething as my ipod and tablet. But I dont want to burn or wear it out with too much loading of pictures and music and my books. The speaker is really clear for hands free talking.Oh a few people asked about you on U.R but respect to your privacy, I did not mention anything without your permission..Just want you to know that you and your family are in our prayers.. be blessed

    • Raynard, dogs are good for so many things but if you have some that can get you to Rita’s and Chick Fil A they must be the best dogs ever! Silly me, I didn’t even know cops had traffic cams. I need to put one on my head to film all the cars that almost run me down in the crosswalk when I’m out walking. I can’t believe how many cars don’t stop for pedestrians even when the walk light is on! You are welcome to share any info with UR but I really do need to get by there and catch up with everyone. I get frustrated when I do visit because I want to keep reading all the comments I missed and catch up with what has been going on in everyone’s life. Monte’s comments really help in that regard. I just found out UR hosts a retreat each year in North Carolina, maybe some year a bunch of us can go there although this year will be out for me. Please tell everyone thanks for all the prayers. We really do appreciate and need them!

  2. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. If I just experience ONE of your wishes today it will be a very good day. 🙂 Bill and I were advised of a web site that has launched, just went LIVE last night. Of course I wanted to share with you first. The web site is if you’d like to check it out.
    Have a beautiful, full of sunbeams day!

    • Sheila, I just went to that site and LOVE it! Right up my alley, as they say. I will look forward to exploring it more. I didn’t have time to see any of the videos, but loved the titles, and did read the “about” page. Thanks so much for sharing it with us! Hope you are having a beautiful day!

      • Sheila

        Thank you, Julia. I will share your comments with Bill’s brother. I’m having a “Walking On Sunshine” day…. I love that song. I sing it to Walter often. OUCH! 🙂

        • Sheila, just to show you how much I’ve been living in a cave lately, I had never heard of this group OR this song, until your comment prompted me to find this great video – I am assuming that’s the song you mean? I love it! It reminds me of some old late-60’s hit that I can’t put my finger on. No wonder you sing this to Walter, it’s so perfect for him! I will have to find out more about this group whenever I get time to refresh my “tunes” player (NOT iTunes, Mp3!) which should be sometime in the next decade…

          • HEY — I just remembered the song! It’s this one, which I love to this day. I don’t know why it came to mind when I heard the song you linked, but I think it’s the persistently upbeat spirit. You just can’t hear it without smiling! Thanks for giving me the gift of a new song — and an old one too!

      • Rene

        Start with the Ke’onte video, but have tissues nearby!

        • Thanks Rene! Here’s the link in case anyone else wants to see it – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED about the tissues! 🙂

  3. Amy

    Thank you for this lovely photo. It lifted my spirits today. I do hope you are right and the world will soon be full of color and warmth. I passed a half century yesterday in my bed very sick. Still not well today. Am at home for the second sick day so this photo is beautiful. Hope all is well. Love to you and the boys.

    • OH NO!!! I thought you were just out having fun someplace in honor of the occasion. But I had forgotten that it was your 50th this time – did you get the ecards from me and HM? I still have big plans for our 10th anniversary Cracker Barrel celebration. I have been wanting to call, but if you are sick, I’m not sure when would be a good time? Let me know and meanwhile, remember I’m thinking of you and praying you will GET WELL SOON! Love you.

      • Amy

        I will try to write you a real note later. I was in the ER last night and nearly came by when I was done but it was almost 8pm and I figured you were all getting settled for the night. I will try not to make any more trips up there but if I do I’ll call before I come. 🙂 I got an antibiotic and some other things to make the symptoms less. I still feel pretty crappy. I am glad for a quiet weekend at home. I had planned to garden but it looks like a weekend on the couch for me. Love to your boys. Thank you for the phone call tonight. I was at work, should have stayed home but guilt made me go. After Monday it’s a slow week so I may not be working much unless I feel a WHOLE lot better. Take care of you.

        • OH NO! Last night I was debating about whether to call you, but didn’t want to bother you if you felt lousy. I am so sorry you are sick. We will have to celebrate extra for your birthday even if it is summer before we can get together. Take care of yourself and don’t push it by going to work. I will be thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers. Love you!

  4. Bobby

    We have finally had a couple of spring-like days that we used to rake and prune and move dirt. Now we have rain, which shows God’s wisdom in keeping us from killing ourselves. Hope that spring has arrived in Hampton Roads as we are coming down this week-end and would like to enjoy some Virginia spring weather.

    • Bobby, I’ll remember that next time it rains on us when we are doing yard work. We might be able to see you Sunday – I hope so! Today is beautiful, so I hope you will get lucky this weekend.

  5. Rene

    I would like to live in this gazebo. I just need a bookcase…or two…

    • I agree! I’ve always wanted a gazebo. I try to tell myself that if I had one, it would need painting and cleaning, and I picture it covered with wet moldy leaves I’d have to get out and clear away in the November chill, but that doesn’t kill my idea that if I had one, I’d somehow have time to sit there all the time and sip iced tea while chatting or reading! Hey, we can dream, can’t we? 🙂

  6. Lucky is the homeowner who’s garden includes this beautiful view. I’ve always admired gazebo’s. They’re quintessentially what I think of as a ‘Cottage Garden’ I’m afraid they’re not too practical up north here because our summer is so short. But we do see them in public places here. I’m excited about our new street. Many of the homes have front porches and love that too. No spring here yet, they keep promising warmer weather and the sun is melting the snow but it’s still well below seasonal. I’m enjoying the crafting time though 😀

    • I took that photo on the home and garden tour in Yorktown – I saw lots of lovely homes and all of them near the historic district on the river. We saw a gorgeous gazebo in Nova Scotia which I featured here, and as you say they probably don’t get to use it too many months, but it’s beautiful just as a decoration. I’m excited about your new street too! You will be there just in time for spring. Meanwhile enjoy the crafting time – we all benefit! 🙂

      • Oh, pretty yes! I remember that now. Those poor folks in Halifax had a monster snow storm last weekend. Power outages and what not. They’ve really had a terrible winter.

        Thanks for the house cheer too Julia. I’m going to wait to plant my pots until we get there. Extra special this year 😀

        • I will be following your updates from Outer Space (hee-hee) and can’t wait to read about the new Boomquarters.

  7. I need informational guidance, maybe from your readers: Is the difference between a gazebo and a pergola a matter of whether one or the other sheds rain? Seriously.

    • Hey Eric, I didn’t know what a pergola was, but I looked it up and it turns out I want both a pergola AND a gazebo. 🙂 From what I read, it sounds like a pergola is one of those semi-coverings made of beams, that go over decks and such, and are covered with vines. I want one to cover our deck because I want shade in the summer and sun in the winter. In fact, ideally I’d like to have one on both our decks. We have neighbors in both York and Alexandria who have them, and they’re gorgeous when all the vines start growing and blooming all over them. The gazebo has a roof and probably some of them even have screens, although that would probably make it a screened porch and not a gazebo. But I’m no expert on any of this…anybody out there want to advise us?

      • singleseatfighterpilot

        You remind me of that line in “The Profit”: ‘that’s okay, master, I wanted to know about freight also.’
        Thank you for your reply – both informative and entertaining. 🙂

        • I can only reply with the words of the master Kehlog Albran himself:

          “Such a man would expect a pear of a peach tree.
          Such a man would expect a stone to lay an egg.
          Such a man would expect Sears to assemble a lawnmower.” 😀

        • Sheila

          Julia and Eric, I am laughing at the above comments, and really glad that I stumbled across them. I’m thinking to myself that Eric is asking,” Are you sure you’re not an expert?” 🙂 Smiles!

          • Sheila, if you are not familiar with the immortal words from The Profit by Kehlog Albran, I encourage you to follow the link and read that hilarious parody of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. Don’t get me wrong, I like Gibran’s work, but somebody did a great job of making a parody of it. I still have the original print copy, but some equally enthused fan has taken it on himself to transcribe the entire thing (minus the pictures, which were also parodies) with a disclaimer about copyright. Be sure to read the chapter on “Fate” to see what Eric’s referring to. It’s a scream.

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