or 4 x 4
My mom finished several of the quilts. It's astonishing how the pieces disappear into the larger pattern, all those separate vivid prints and colors, all the mismatches turning into subtle shadings as they take their place in the design.
I was thinking about parts and wholes today while looking at the garden. Its winter identity has been shorn away, all the seed heads and stems and branch structures that gave it dignity and integrity. They have been reduced to an awkward, gangling mess of spikes and stalks and lumps that have no apparent relationship to one another, no balanced proportions, no sense of shading into a whole. The crocuses, while lovely on their own, are too newly planted to be more than random dots of blossom—rather than blooming en masse, each one seems to be following its own rhythm. Instead of providing charming swaths of color to distract from the spikes and stalks and lumps, they are acting as charming exclamation points drawing attention to every little awkwardness.
Until the spring growth fills in, it's a scrap-bag of a garden, a jumble of fragments divorced from a design. But how fascinating those fragments can be... One 4 inch by 4 inch patch of ground, for example, home to a handful of waterlily tulips, kept me occupied for longer than I care to admit. The tulips' leaves are just beginning to stretch out in earnest, and they are a study in curves, from nautilus spirals to new-moon arcs to flamenco swirls. They capture light and funnel it along the leaf edges; they radiate warmth in the morning and cool in afternoon shade; they are a good argument for wearing vertical stripes. They are still so small that they can barely be seen from the patio; once they bloom, the leaves won't be noticeable at all; once the sand cherries leaf out, the tulips will disappear into the larger pattern of green.
In the meantime, they are what we have—let us make the most of them.