Sunday 21 March 2010

Spring Cleaning and Passion Flowers ....

Spring Equinox starts this weekend the sun rises everywhere at 6.00 am and sets at 6.00 pm – that’s life and just the way it is .. because the earth is slightly tilted the sun ‘moves’ between the two tropics and we get our seasons. If the earth’s axis was not tilted we would have no seasons, nor of all these gorgeous flowers, tall majestic trees, blossoming bushes, crops of many sorts .. a multitude of plenty to chose from across the continents.

Winter is being shed, spring is springing – here in the northern hemisphere – bulbs are bursting through, blossom is waiting for a zephyr wind not the arctic bursts we have had – but we are lucky. Do you remember the days of coal fires to heat the house, to cook the food, heat the water? .. those were hard times .. and the sooty dust that went everywhere making all the surfaces and fabrics a slightly darker shade of pale?

The earth: High-resolution global composites of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (Wikipedia)

Spring cleaning could start when the days were getting warmer and longer .. more time to complete the jobs and the extra light meant crevices could be looked into!! Each day now we will have an extra fifteen minutes of light, as the sun moves higher in our horizon, every day until the summer solstice and then once again we start to lose the light little by little.

Our ancestors could only refill their straw mattresses once the hay was dry enough and the chimney sweeps could only do their sweeping once the winter fires were out. Surprisingly the chimney sweep is an ancient ‘profession’, being considered to be one of the oldest occupations in our known world.

Chimney Sweep in the 1850s

Our passion for housework seems to have evaporated over the years – we were house proud, ready to tackle the great unwashed at the dawn of longer days .. to bring sparkle, a fresh scent and sunlight back into our homes. Brushing brooms, dusting dusters, up the ladders until we had aching backs, watery eyes, weary arms .. bring out the hoover .. then let us get outside into the great outdoors: spring has sprung.

Passiontide is nearly upon us .. the Christian year still steeped in religious fervour influences us through its festivals and services, the legends that are passed on through the generations, recorded in books – we remember.

Passiontide, the last two weeks of Lent, is the dark fortnight leading up to Easter and is centred on a sequence of Stations of the Cross, inspired by the medieval tradition of processing to the images of Christ’s Passion: the Passiontide Processional a dramatic service held in St Peter's Basilica, Cathedrals and churches throughout the world.

Cross veiled during Passiontide in Lent (Pfarrkirche St. Martin in Tannheim, Baden Württemberg, Germany).

Most of us know the passiflora – the passion flower – so named by the newly arrived missionaries and settlers in South America after Columbus’ expeditions in the late 1490s. These superb climbing plants, whose intricate flowers of crimson, blue, flesh-coloured, yellow and greenish-white must have presented an arresting picture. Even today it is impossible to pass one of the most common varieties without a second glance – I can attest to that ... they are so pretty – let alone the taste of their fruits... oh oh oh! Perhaps ‘my champagne fruit’ comes first ... I mean it .. babaco ...

In their religious zeal, the Spaniards saw in this flower a God-given symbol of Christ’s Passion, and hailed it as an assurance of the ultimate triumph of the Cross. Each flower part bears a fancied resemblance to the instruments of the Passion:

The leaf symbolizes the spear;
The five petals and five sepals, the ten apostles (Peter who denied, and Judas who betrayed, being omitted;
The five anthers, the five wounds
The tendrils, the scourges
The column of the ovary, the pillar of the cross
The stamens, the hammers
The three stigmas, the three nails
The filament within the flower, the crown of thorns
The calyx, the glory
The white tint of the flower, purity
The blue tint, heaven
It keeps open for three days, symbolizing the three years’ of ministry

The passion flower climbed the Cross and covered its arms with flowers. [Above: Pink-white rakhi flower at Kadalakurushi near Palakkad (Kerala, India)]

Today is Passion Sunday , the Spring Equinox and a quiet time to reflect as the days are lengthening giving us a renewal from the winter depths of dark and closedness, we can step out into the warmer days as the passion flower did clambering out to embrace this new burgeoning world.

The Mexicans called the flower Flos de las Cinco Llagas, the Flower of the Five Wounds, which once it reached Europe was called Flos-passionis. Linnaeus (1707 – 1778) under his system of scientific classification renamed it Passiflora, the Passion Flower.

Flower of Passiflora × belotii, a horticultural hybrid

We get passion flowers clambering around fences here and I shall look at the passion flower in a new light now I know a little more about its meaning, origins and naming.

Dear Mr Postman – my mother seems to be settled in, I have put up some more decorations – all have to be wipe-proof, which is somewhat frustrating as it is so limiting. We just have to go forward – I hope she can move back up as it is so much hotter and stuffier downstairs and she loves her coolness, even upstairs we had the fans on! (Not one, but two usually!). We’ll see. The clocks go forward next weekend .. then Spring will really be here for us – our daylight will go on suddenly to 7.30 in the evening .. it’s a lovely change: invigorating.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


T. Powell Coltrin said...

Lovely post. I first want to say that here in MO winter slapped spring in the face with freezing rain, snow and blustery winds. But spring is strong and always fulfills the promise of coming. We have already sprung forward here. It is another sign of spring and I am glad.

I still get spring cleaning fever. Not too many I know still give their house the once over in the spring. I do it in the fall too.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Teresa .. tahnk you. I read somewhere else .. that there'd been some snow around .. I love your phrase - winter slapped spring! It does quite often - but this year .. I could do with it staying slightly warmer: however it looks like wet with gusty winds here .. not too good. The light is longer from now on.

Good for you (twice a year!!).. it's lovely having a clean house and know all the 'crud's' been sorted! Clean everything .. bliss!

Enjoy the early Spring .. Hilary

Mark said...

Thanks for the information on the Passiflora, very cool stuff that I did not know. Happy Spring!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark .. good to see you .. and glad you learnt about the Passion Flower and its meaning .. Happy and warm Spring to all of us ..

Enjoy the week .. Hilary

Sara said...

Hilary -- It seems the blogging community is into spring:~)

I loved learning about the Passion Flower. As you probably know, I like flowers a lot and this was very interesting. The flower, itself, if beautiful as well.

Thanks for sharing this:~)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sara .. how right you are .. Spring is definitely on the way to being sprung in this half of the hemisphere .. amazing how much difference the light makes.

The flower and the fruit are wonderful .. but I was so interested to find the source of the naming of the flower ..

Glad you enjoyed it .. thanks for being here .. Hilary

Patricia said...

Great post and I am so happy I got here not on the heels of everyone else!
I love flowers and I love spring cleaning. I found your words today exceptionally cheery and good blessings of hope and possibility. We just changed our clocks and I then the sky took pity and shed some sun shine.
My partner did some big vacuuming this weekend for me and I walked around an did one room with the duster and then sat down again. I do not feel duly cleaned up yet, but at least started.

Glad you mum is doing well and settled. All these changes are hard to take and trying...
Thank you for sharing

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia .. thanks so much .. I sort of half thought you might be a great spring cleaner!! Yes - your clocks go forward 2 weeks before ours ... It sounds as though your house is being cleaned up somewhat .. glad yo've started.

We love flowers too .. I keep Mum supplied with as appropriate flowers as poss .. a good mix and especially the scented ones ..

Yes .. Mum doesn't much like it either .. and from my point of view it's 'hard work' .. still Spring is here!! Wonderful more warmth and light ..

Thank you too for your comment and for being here .. always appreciated .. enjoy your Spring with its flowers and the changing season - Hilary

BK said...

The flowers are beautiful and the first time I am seeing them. Wishing you a great Spring ahead.

Glad to read that your mother has settled in and hope that eventually she can move back up so that she will enjoy the coolness in moving forward.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi BK .. I first saw the Passion Flower in Zimbabwe years ago (Rhodesia as it was) .. and was totally transfixed then. Now they grow here .. perhaps not producing fruits. You too have a good Season .. it's lovely seeing everything sprout and green appear from the brown.

Thanks re my Mum .. I hope we can get back upstairs soon .. as it's very stuffy downstairs when the wind is on its normal westerly trajectory!

Good to see you - many thanks Hilary

Joanne said...

Spring has sprung here too, although we had so very little snow this winter that it didn't even feel like winter! So far just the crocuses are blooming, but more is to follow. A little spring cleaning, a little getting the gardens ready, and bring it on! Happy Spring to you Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joanne .. seriously you didn't have much snow this year .. we had a fair amount down here and that's really unusual. Crocuses - they're so beautiful .. our snowdrop drifts have been out and the daffodils are spreading their gorgeous colours .. it is coming. Yes - I think that's right a little of everything .. and then a wonderful Spring and Summer to enjoy ahead - thanks for the visit, Joanne .. good to see you

Arlee Bird said...

Some interesting facts that you have presented here. I always mean to kind of take notice of these solstice days and then I forget and they pass by and I miss them. Hmmm -- how would I celebrate anyway?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee .. good to see you here and thanks for commenting. Trouble is these solstice days come and go .. perhaps the festivals of yore .. gave peoples time to stop and think .. and welcome the new season .. bringing to mind what is ahead.

But I guess in California .... you don't have those obvious seasons? .. though Cherry Blossom you have, I know.

Celebrate with some peace and quiet .. a time for a little reflection .. just got to wait now til June 21 st for the Summer Solstice to come around .. lets enjoy Spring for now!

Good to see you - thank you .. Hilary

Janice Lynne Lundy said...

Happy spring! May the lighter days begin to bring greater ease. I do hope your mum settles in and that grace comes to you both. I love your sharings here. The flowers (so close to my heart) are stunning! They bring plenty of smiles. xo

J.D. Meier said...

I hadn't seen a passion flower before. That's pretty wild. Thanks for sharing its meaning, origins and naming1

Anonymous said...

Chimney sweeps. I think of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Looks like a messy job that doesn't pay very well.

Stephen Tremp

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jan – thank you .. yes – the lighter days seem to make all of us more cheerful – no longer SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Mum seems to be adjusting I’m pleased to say.

Thank you – those pictures from Wiki are great – gave my heart a lift too .. and brought back memories of South Africa. – Thanks Jan .. good to see you – have a great mid week - xxoo

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi JD .. good to see you & I’m pleased you’ve now seen a Passion Flower .. they’re good clamberers! Just glad you’ve enjoyed hearing some of the ‘history’ of the naming etc .. thanks for the visit – Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Stephen .. thanks for coming by. I hadn’t thought about Mary Poppins .. but we still use Chimney Sweeps here .. and as you so rightly say .. dirty and little payment for a foul job 150 years ago.

Then there are the children who were assistants .. as Tom in the Water Babies. Continue having a good week – good to see you - Hilary

angela recada said...

What a beautiful and interesting blog you have! Spring is my favorite time of year, though we often don't have much of one here. (It often is winter one day and hot and humid summer the next day.)

The flower photos are glorious!

Blue Bunny said...

deere hillree,

my jannie nevir lost her passins for kleening she house, becasue she nevir had that passins in the ferst plase!! hee, hee, i maeking a bit of a joking at my jannie. i so sillee.

my jannie do gets me to sweep she chimnee, then i not blue bunny -- i blak buny until she maeks me a shampaigne bath.

my jannie was just saeing yesterday how the earth beeing tillted gives the seezins!! you and my jannie is very very smart!


Barb Hartsook said...

Hi Hilary. I just melted into this post. How beautifully written. Growing up, we always did the spring cleaning thing -- but we did it in August, when my dad left for two weeks of summer football clinic and state all-star practices and games.

We spent the first week cleaning everything! There was not a spot or dish or piece of fabric left unwashed or unscrubbed. The second week we traveled to the city and shopped for school clothes. My sisters and I never seemed to mind the cleaning, knowing the shopping trip was coming. (My mom was a smart lady -- set our priorities out without ever saying a word.)

I really enjoyed the history account here. And those flowers are gorgeous! I take a passion flower supplement in the evenings, but had never seen -- or identified -- the flower. Thank you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Angela .. thank you – that’s really kind and much appreciated. I love Spring .. it seems to gear me up for the lovely long days, when I achieve so much more. I have to say I love our seasons .. though winter, as this year, can go on too long .. !! Talk about contradicting myself immediately!

You’re in Wisconsin .. middle of the continent: extremes of weather .. so that explains your winter one day, hot and humid the next .. glorious slow change here .. love it! Sorry!

Thanks about the flower photos – courtesy of Wikipedia .. they are great providers of good pictures – thank goodness .. enjoy the rest of the week – good to see you here - Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Blue Bunny .. good to see you. I kan zee ur Jannie kleening .. Hinekin in hand singing her songs in Little Voice mode .. she duz do sum dekrating tho ... wen do wees gets to zee ze penguin wallspapers in Kelly’s room? Give me the secrets truthes ... I needsa know ..?

Oh no .. do U den get put in one of those American pet cleaning machines .. that is too cruelle .. I don’t tink ur Jannie is Cruella de maison .. iz she? Oh I zee – champagnees bath .. luverly!

Jannie & me – we wud agree wiv U – we is terribly clever .. we don’t clean much .. but we is smart some of de times ... Just watch the chimberley .. hugs xxoo

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Barb .. many thanks – just chuffed you enjoyed it so much. It sounds like you were all happy in your work, singing away, getting the jobs done, with a spring in your step .. – certainly your mother had some sensible working practices for her daughters .. bet she was pleased she had girls .. otherwise the boys would have disappeared off with their father for two weeks .. leaving her on her own cleaning everything! She also got to shop with you!

Excellent to hear that you now know a little more about the background to your supplement .. the flowers are so pretty aren’t they – I love them: amazingly clever is nature?!

Thanks so much for being here – lovely to see you .. Hilary

Barbara Swafford said...

Hi Hilary,

I remember Spring cleaning when I was a young gal. Nowadays I don't hear too many people talking about it.

The flowers are gorgeous. I don't think I've ever seen a passion flower in person, so it thrills me you're sharing them.

It sounds like things are going well for your mom. (((hugs))) to the two of you.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Barbara .. I think I must have missed Spring cleaning .. at school, I guess! I used to do my room out quite often .. easy doing one room?! People do seem to pop out and start cleaning the windows, door frames etc .. so the better weather just brings us out a bit more occasionally with a duster in hand!

I have to say I'm so surprised that so many of commenters haven't seen a passion flower - but until I travelled to Africa, nor had I. Glad you enjoyed them - they're so pretty.

We're fine - thank you .. ticking along and Mum smiled yesterday when I told her about the hugs she gets from around the world .. thankyou!

Have a good rest of the week - Hilary xxoo

Liara Covert said...

Love the way you encourage people to sense the life energy in vegetation, plants and everything all around us. Spring is awakening my mom to her love of tulips. People are gifting her flowers and she is treating herself to colorful pots.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. thank you .. my mother loves plants and was a great gardener – very good one. Perhaps I’ve been paying more attention to the natural nearness of things as I’ve spent time with my mother and uncle – both outdoor lovers. My mother loves tulips too – so I usually buy her some – they add a wonderful burst of colour, to the scented jonquils, paper whites or other daffs.

That’s lovely that your mother is really enjoying her bulbs, flowers .. planting them out and watching them grow in brightly coloured pots .. they’re saying our Spring is going to be wonderfully rich and full this year – a little late .. but so wonderful to look forward to .. bliss!

Thanks for being here and congratulations on your new book publication .. well done!

Clueless said...

This is really a beautifully written post. I love the flower and love symbolism. I was wondering if the three days it is open could be a symbol of the death and resurection of Christ. Either way, I love it. May I use it for Easter on my blog?

Also, being from Southern California what are four seasons? We have trees lining the streets that stay green year round, pine trees that never change color and the roses get confused that they will grow any time of the year. LOL

Also, your name is extremely familiar. Did you used to visit my blog or something else. I kind of think that it is something else. Hmmm...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Clueless .. no I haven’t been across to your blog before – so I guess it was on someone else’s blog .. I’ve seen you occasionally too I’m sure.

Thank you for your comments – they are much appreciated. That part about the Passion Flower being a part of the 3 day commemoration of Easter .. Good Friday to Easter Sunday .. but I’m sure the Catholic priests would have established that connection too. They did refer to the three years of the Ministry.

Of course .. if you wish to use the information on your blog at Easter – I’d be honoured – thank you for asking. The pictures came from Wikipedia. Southern California has its own charm the sand dunes with the pines .. and the southern plants ..

Thanks for the visit .. nice to see you here .. all the best Hilary

Paul C said...

What a wonderful overview of the spring equinox and passiontide, a term I heard for the first time.

Davina said...

Hi Hilary.
I enjoyed reading about the symbolism of the Passion Flower. I'm a nut for symbols and always looking for parallels between nature and 'life'. It's nice to hear that your mother has settled in. Happy Spring to you both.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Paul .. good to meet you - and thank you for your comment. I hadn't 'taken in' about the period of Passiontide before .. so I learnt something too.

Many thanks for the visit - all the best Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Davina .. the more we understand of our myth and lore from the ancient times is so interesting I agree .. and how that information is still around today 500 years later.

We're gettting to grips with Mum and the move downstairs .. Many thanks for your wishes - all the best Davina .. and have a good Spring .. lots of hikes!

vered | blogger for hire said...

I enjoyed reading this post - so well written and filled with information. I don't really do the traditional spring cleaning (although now I know there were good reasons to do it in the spring!) but rather deep clean throughout the year. I do love spring and see it as a season of renewal and hope.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Vered - good to see and many thanks. I think we're lucky aren't we .. we sort of deal with things when we have to and Spring Cleaning is no longer a necessity! Except life then was more in tune with nature .. than it is now.

I know - you're a great spring cleaner .. and keep the family! decluttered. Spring certainly is beautiful .. and as you so rightly say a season of renewal and hope.

Many thanks and enjoy spring - Hilary

janice h said...

What a fabulous post, Hilary; it just flowed like a documentary and I was riveted. I also love how you always manage to find such amazing photos and embed them so effortlessly!

We had coal fires in every room as I was growing up (coal miner's daughter)so I spent a lot of my childhood cleaning black soot and grime off stuff. I remember getting down on my hands and kneees and scrubbing two flights of OUTSIDE STEPS! And we lived in a council house.

I loved the illustration of the flower - I never knew why it was called that. This year's special for me. Greek Orthodox Easter only coincides with British Easter every three or four years, so this year all the presents for the kids from Greek godparents and family will arrive at the same time as the rest of Scotland is celebrating Easter. We usually have two Easters!

My favourite bit of your post? The importance of our world being tilted!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Janice .. many thanks .. and just honoured you enjoyed it. The photos are all from Wikipedia .. and blogger is by no manner of means perfect (eg its paragraphing ..) but the pictures go in ok .. and so do videos, but then if I print out the page – the YouTube bit is black. So leave it at photos at the moment. So I can’t really take the credit – except for the jigsaw of info!

We had coal fires too – a coal boiler, and an aga .. but the house was freezing & school was freezing! Two flights of outside steps to clean .. oooh .. glad that wasn’t me! Oh! you’re the special daughter of a coal miner .. free coal – but masses of soot too – from clothes, the air, let alone the fires! Explains why you don’t like clutter now .. and why you’re house proud with bright cheerful colours, and fresh flowers around.

I just spotted the Passion Flower bit and thought ‘how interesting’ so .. that set the pace. Brilliant that your Easters are combining .. your love of Greece shines through – rather wish I’d been brave enough to go and live there – visited once only, so far! Love the music, the food etc etc .. Spanokopita .. I make very often! I remember Pasch celebrations with some Russian friends from years ago .. that was an amazing Easter evening of service and festival.

Yes – you’re so right .. if we didn’t have our tilt – we’d be lost!! Great to see you – have a lovely rest of the weekend .. and remember the clocks go forward!! Enjoy the Easter tide time .. and memories .. lots of pics for the blog – please! Go well – all the best Hilary

Jillian said...

Hi Hilary - thank you for enlightening me about the Passion Flower. I used to have a very healthy, very robust one, but left it behind in a move and haven't replaced it. We are moving again next month, and you've inspired me to get another for our new home. I also love the insights you provided into spring cleaning, and you've given me something to ponder and smile about while doing some! Thank you for all your kind comments over at my blog - I always look forward to hearing from you. Take care!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jillian .. thanks for coming over here .. and delighted that you'll be buying a new Passion Flower -they are so pretty & delicious if you've a fruiting one.

Moving .. oh oh - packing and cleaning .. hope you smile as you work?!

Glad to visit you - loved the 100 ideas that you love doing .. fun to share .. are you moving within Vancouver? Good luck with it all .. Hilary

Evita Ochel said...

Hi Hilary

You know I always get so excited for the spring equinox wanting to do something special for it, and I never do :( I think it is such a special time in the life of Mother Earth as it is a day as you point out that is perfectly balanced. And no I don't want to dance around the fire with my hair waving in the wind, singing chants - :) LOL - perhaps I haven't done anything yet, as I am not sure yet, what it is that I want to do (i.e. how to celebrate this special day) I guess I could clean the house, but that is part of spring cleaning in general.

And by the way, yes I do remember having a fireplace, well more like a chimney that was based on coal, even though I am so young! I spent my childhood in a home in Europe that was about or over 100 years old - so I was all too familiar with coal!

I am thankful that those days are done :)

I also LOVE the flowers you have here!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Evita – good to see you here .. I think we all feel so much better once the longer days come along, and we know summer is coming! Singing around a bonfire at this time of year sounds fun .. would keep us warm at least .. Now you have another year to think what you’re going to do in 2011?! I agree just cleaning isn’t much fun .. it’s satisfying to have done it though.

Coal fires are still around and sometimes in winter they make that extra difference, or only difference .. as they warm the fabric of the house too. Then you’ve seen both sides of life – Europe and North America .. the wood burning stoves are coming into their own now here .. possibly more so after this winter. Old houses here tend to have chimneys .. some have been blocked up and converted to a gas or electric fire instead. Me too – but actually a lovely open fire is just wonderful over a cold weekend – on the other hand it’s more spring cleaning ahead!

Aren’t they just wonderful to look at - & I loved learning about their name – I was quite surprised .. there’s so much history to passion flowers – but their name is so appropriate to this time of year.

Thanks for being here .. have a good weekend .. Hilary

Linda Bob Grifins Korbetis Hall said...

Happy Belated Easter!

Happy monday!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Ji ... thanks for coming by .. grateful to see you here too as well as everywhere else .. enjoy the rest of the week .. all the best Hilary