Welcome to day 16 of 28 Days of Have Heaven, a short month of posts about heaven, paradise, perfection and desire, perfect places, art, theology, gardens, and more, using the Enya song “China Roses” as a jumping off point. Each post will look at these elements in itself, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may only peripherally be related. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted
A kind of heaven is finding just what you are looking for, just what you desire. Sometimes it’s glorious to suddenly find something you hadn’t known you were even looking for, until you found it, saw it, heard it, tasted it, understood it, experienced it. Maybe you found it while looking for something else, or maybe you weren’t looking for anything at all but once you stumbled on it, or someone gave it to you as a gift, you felt you’d always been searching for it without knowing its name. I remember this experience with beignets, peas and cucumbers fresh from the garden, Thomas Merton’s words, Rene Girard’s ideas, happening upon photos or letters I had forgotten.
Other times, the heavenly part is that you have been searching, high and low, far and wide, for something specific, something you expected or perhaps merely hoped to find, and then one day, after not finding it, there it is, right there, what you’ve sought.
This latter experience was mine today. I had heard a few weeks ago that male pussy willow catkins — our first tangible sign of spring — were out on shrubs in town, so I’ve been checking the pussy willows I know on a walk around a nearby lake since then. Nothing. I waded through a foot or two of snow on several occasions to look more closely and came up empty. But today, I could see the shimmering grey kitten-fur buds from 10 or 15 yards away; they are the only things “blooming” now, so they’re obvious against a background of dark bare tree limbs and brown grasses.
My heaven today was finding this promise of spring, “like a constellation come to earth, descended from the heavens and hovering just above the ground” (Pamela Johnson, see link below).
You can see in this photo from March 2017 how the catkins hang like heaven-dripped stars:
More on Salix discolor:
Pussy Willow. Salix discolor. Salicaceae. (Willow Family), Pamela Johnson, Wild Seed Project, March 2015 (from which the above quote).
How to Grow Pussy Willows in Your Own Yard, David Beaulieu, The Spruce, 16 Jan. 2019.
Pussy Willow, Tim Parsons, The Middlebury [College, Middlebury VT] Landscape blog, 18 April 2011
Honey bee forage: pussy willow, HoneyBeeSuite, 4 Feb. 2011.
Winter Bloomers Revive the Soul, Toni Leland, Dave’s Garden, 26 Feb. 2016. List of winter/early-spring blooming plants (including pussy willow), many for zones 4-7.