English Romantic Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1834) wrote that "Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve, / And Hope without an object cannot live," while a hundred years earlier, English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) declared that "Hope springs eternal in the human breast."
When we lived in Philadelphia, one of our favorite places to go was the Biopond at the University of Pennsylvania, five hidden acres, right in the middle of a busy campus, surrounded by dorms, medical buildings, and major streets. You might never guess it existed, but walk a few blocks off the beaten path, and there it was -- an urban oasis extraordinaire!
One year, out for a brisk walk on the first day of Christmas Vacation, we stopped by the Biopond, and what to our wondering eyes should appear but a purple iris in full bloom . . . in December . . . in Philadelphia!
I've heard the legend of the Christmas rose, which blossomed from the tears of Madelon the Shepherd Girl, and of little Pepita the Mexican girl whose humble bouquet of weeds, in similar fashion, was transformed on Christmas Eve into a brilliant poinsettia. But that day, we witnessed our own seasonal miracle, something I had never heard of or seen before -- a Solstice Iris -- blooming on the First Day of Winter!
My friend Ann de Forest writes from Italy:
Do irises in Rome usually bloom in November
or is this as freakish as I think it is?