The word "soft" takes up a lot of space in the dictionary. It's a broad-shouldered, good-natured word, and so naturally ends up doing a lot of extra work. A quick glance down the list of definitions shows that most of the work is pleasant, at any rate, even relaxing. Soft can mean: pleasing, agreeable; bringing ease, comfort, or quiet; mellow, subdued, gentle, smooth, delicate; balmy, mild or clement; not violent; demanding little work or effort; leisurely, curved, unassuming, low-key; marked by kindness or tenderness... Such lovely ideas, all redolent of ease, and all wrapped up in that one word, "soft."
|'Lady Jane' tulips and grape hyacinths|
One of the things I love most about spring is that it gives us back the gift of shade. All winter the east-facing patio and garden are sunny and comfortable in the morning but off-limits for casual enjoyment after noon. In the morning, the sun is happy to tell tall tales and let you pretend that the temperature is much warmer than it actually is. Then it crosses the roofline and leaves you with shade, which always tells the cold, unvarnished truth. Shade sends you inside to put on another sweater and behave yourself.
In spring the shade has kinder truths to tell. Unseasonably warm weather this week has made the patio a comfortable place to sit again in the afternoons, to work the crossword puzzle, draft a blog post, watch the goldfinches. But the biggest enjoyment has been the soft light of shade—not the glow of winter sun or the blare of summer, not the dark shadows against the north-facing wall, marked off from the sunlight by a straight, hard line, but the gentle, even light of New Mexico's ambient brightness.
In winter the sun is our haven; in summer we take refuge in shade. In spring both sun and shade are equally soft—they are mild, clement places to enjoy the soft colors, soft fragrances, soft temperatures.
No other refuge is necessary.