Let It Snow: Now is the time to move and divide snowdrops.
Disease and Decay: Uncle Vanya explores decline of rural Russia.
Of Whales and Spice: Mini-reviews of area dining spots.
Let It Snow
Now is the time to move and divide snowdrops.
By Rachel Foster
|Snowdrops push up
through soggy winter soil.
Twenty-four hours later, the temperature fell sharply and it snowed. I don't remember how many weeks elapsed before the next thaw, but I do remember that my new snowdrops appeared with it, bearing hundreds of undersized but perfect snow-white flowers. They returned year after year, and were soon seeding about to enlarge the little colonies. I never did get around to dividing them, until I dug some up and brought them with me to Oregon. Every trowel-full contained about a hundred bulbs, many of them extremely tiny. I planted as many as I had the patience for, with a little bonemeal and cottonseed meal, in the humus-laden soil under our oak trees. I was amazed at the size of the flowers that emerged the following year.
These are the common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, with four to six inch stems and narrow, blue-green leaves. Years ago, common snowdrop bulbs were cheap, but now that reputable dealers no longer sell bulbs dug from the wild they are quite expensive. What's more, the bulbs suffer from being dried off for market, so planting store-bought bulbs is not always successful. That's why, having read that moving green and growing bulbs works better, I had waited patiently to find a good and plentiful source. I wanted lots of snowdrops.
Not everyone can raid an abandoned garden. If you must start with store-bought bulbs, plant them as soon as you buy them in fall. This will most likely be September, because the bulbs sell out quickly. If you can beg some growing snowdrops this spring, so much the better. Put them on the sunny side of a mossy rock or a tree trunk, perhaps with a primrose plant or two, somewhere you will see them often. They'll be up and blooming in January or early February, and the flowers last for weeks. Unlike crocuses, which need sun to open their flowers, snowdrops will open quite prettily on mild, gray afternoons, which makes them an ideal bulb for our often gloomy climate.
The bulbs are also quite tolerant of wet soils. In the south of England, where snowdrops have been naturalized for centuries, I have seen huge colonies growing along meandering streams in meadows that often flood in winter. Many of the bulbs we grow in gardens originate in the Mediterranean region and North Africa, but the native haunts of the common snowdrop are in northern and eastern Europe, where it is cold and damp. Galanthus nivalis does well in shade, and it prefers moisture-retentive soils that stay cool and somewhat moist in summer.
Another, larger snowdrop you may see in the Eugene area has broader leaves and flowers on eight-inch stems. The petals are marked with green at the base as well as the tip, suggesting it is the giant snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii, which comes from the mountains of western Turkey. It is less tolerant of winter wet than G. nivalis. It seems to do particularly well against house walls, where the drainage is good and the eaves provide protection from rain.
Two years after I arrived in Oregon I moved house again, and my snowdrops came along. I planted them on a damp, east-facing slope right outside our new front door, with Japanese maples for summer shade. Like other members of the amaryllis family, snowdrops are not eaten by deer. Deer don't eat hellebores, either, so Lenten roses (Helleborus hybridus) are mainstays of this front garden, where small herds of deer are part of the scenery. By the end of January the hellebores are blooming with the snowdrops, and there are primroses, early crocus and a few winter-flowering cyclamen to brighten the mix. This is an ideal spot for a winter garden, because we see it every day as we come and go.
Back to Top
Disease and Decay
Uncle Vanya explores decline of rural Russia.
By Aria Seligmann
|Yelena (Susan Tate)
is unswayed by Vanya's (Stephen Speidel) advances.
Chekhov's works emphasize internal drama, characterization and mood while finding humor amidst the suffering of his characters. In many of his works, alcoholism figures prominently -- both the turning to it to alleviate pain as well as the subsequent unraveling of one's mental faculties because of it.
It seems Chekhov's characters turn to drink and religion to cover up the boredom and misery of impoverished rural existence, which he seems to understand well. In Vanya, the bleakness is even starker because many of the characters are not abjectly poor, just stagnant. The hopeless monotony of their lives has created a spiritual bereftness for which the only escape seems death. The next life will be better. "We will rest," says Sonya.
Sonya (Kathryn Muller-Lorish) is the daughter of retired Professor Serebryakov (Lester B. Hanson). Sonya's mother is dead and the professor has remarried beautiful, 27-year-old Yelena (Susan Tate). Serebryakov has returned with his new wife to his rural estate from the city to get treatment for his ailments. On the estate live Sonya, her mother's brother, Vanya (Stephen Speidel), her mother's mother, Maria (Ariel Pearlson), her nanny, Maryina (Thyra Boyd), an impoverished landowner, Telyegin (James Aday) and an estate worker, Yefim (Stan Boyd). Visiting to attend the sick professor is Dr. Astrov (Dan Pegoda).
Uncle Vanya has been caretaking the estate and all who reside there, with the help of Sonya, his niece. He has sacrificed his own happiness to serve his brother-in-law and family, like a serf to a lord, and has spiraled into spiritual decay and drink. Telyegin joins Vanya in his disillusionment, though Telyegin finds humor in life. Indeed, there are many humorous moments in this play.
Astrov is also bored and burned out from working so hard treating typhoid patients, and saving trees along with people. He finds creative outlet in his sketches of landscaping plans.
When the professor comes to visit with his new wife, Vanya and Astrov are delighted to have a break in their routine, and they quickly fall in love with the enchanting Yelena, while she finds rural life hopelessly boring. Although they love her, they end up scorning her, for her inertia is infectious and soon everyone on the estate becomes idle while attending to her and the professor.
This production is well-polished and tight. Director Hans Christofferson has paid attention to every detail, and it shows. The production values are all there: lighting, excellent sound design and magnificent set design with appropriate props. The costuming is also top-notch.
Stephen Speidel turns in a studied, multi-dimensional Vanya. From his speech to his mannerisms, loose and drunk to angry and tense, from pitiful lover to cynical brother-in-law, he is believable, and his performance is one of the best I've seen on a Eugene stage.
Lester B. Hanson is a great foil to Vanya. Self-centered, grumpy, unaware, his every movement adds tension to the story. Dan Pegoda is a believable and thoughtful Astrov and James Aday, with his magnificent voice, is a charming and funny Telyegin.
The women are well cast and show remarkable bonding. Challenging yet sincere monologues are turned in by Kathryn Muller-Lorish and Susan Tate. Ariel Pearlson as Maria and Thyra Boyd as Maryina do a remarkable job of showing the difference in their classes by their carriage and mannerisms.
The chemistry among the entire cast works. Chekhov is always challenging and this play and these parts are no exception. LLTC is to be commended for its daring in raising the bar of difficulty. A show this tight on opening night is only going to get better as the run continues.
Note: there is no Vanya performance on Thursday Feb. 14. Instead, Wymprov is performing a special Valentines' show in the space. See calendar for details.
Back to Top
Of Whales and Spice
Mini-reviews of area dining spots.
|Tasty Thai Kitchen.
Restaurants come and go, are born and die, often in the same space over long periods of time. They arise (and vanish) in dreams of perfect demographics and shared passions for certain foods, plus imagined profits that will surely result from the willingness of the owner to work impossibly long hours in torturous conditions. Tasty Thai Kitchen used to be Dragon Gate; before that, the building went through so many incarnations even close neighbors can't recall all the names (Lighter Brown, Darker Brown the most catchy). To morph this space Thai, all that changed were some plants, paper-globe lights, a few art pieces, and the ingredients coming through the kitchen to the tables. Yet the place got much better. Only open a month now, TTK is still finding its rhythm, but business is booming. Menu is familiar Thai preparations, emphasis on flavors from spices and fresh herbs (esp. cilantro, lemon grass, mint), light-handed use of peppers (some slightly hot dishes), respect for noodles and soups. Entree prices range from $9-$13, increases altered by choices from tofu, chicken, beef, prawns. Service by friendly amateurs. Very nice little wine list at very good prices, several Eugene Wine Cellars wines by the glass, plus usual sodas, tea, beer, etc. Available limited menu for kids. Buddha bless.
Hole in the Wall
3200 W. 11th Ave. 683-7378.
11 am-- 8 pm TU-SA. $. -- LS
Consistent EW Readers' Choice as #1 for barbecue, Hole in the Wall earns its marks for downhome service, food with honest flavor; lives down to its name for decor -- tiny but tidy, a tight little niche amid an eyesore sea of highway junk, funky neon, trashy billboards. Little joint's hard to spot at night; daytime, watch for their big red catering trucks (along with take-out, the source for much of their business). Lunches jump, a brisk biz in sandwiches ($5.25) made from smoked brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey breast, hot links, smoked meatloaf; sides of creamy dill potato salad, coleslaw, BBQ beans; options on ribs and chicken Q (half-rack, $10.25; full rack, $17.50). Ribs cooked to peak of Q: meat firm but almost falling off the bone, sauces mild to middlin' fiery. Beverage options include bottled micros, wine, sodas. Nice folks, home-style eats.
The Whale's Tale
452 SW Bay Blvd., Newport. 541-265-8660.
8 am-9 pm M-F, 9 am-9 pm SA-SU. $$-$$$. -- OI
Serving breakfast through dinner, the 26-year-old Whale's Tale on Newport's bayfront is where underemployed Newport residents go when their parents are in town. What you're getting for your money here isn't particularly unique preparations, it's the quality of the ingredients. The freshest seafood doesn't smell like fish, and that's exactly what you'll find here. The Whale's Tale also offers excellent breakfast and lunches for non-fish eaters. Its signature offering, however, is the "mousse in a bag" -- white chocolate mousse in a thin-walled, dark chocolate box. People come out just for dessert.
|The former Chez Ray's
Tuscany's Ristorante e Pizzaria, which once was Spencer's Brewhouse, unexpectedly closed it's doors last Tuesday.
Hello to the Cheerful Tortoise, new proprietors of the building that was Izzy's near campus. There's even some live music coming out of there in the evenings now. Is Eugene coming back to life now that the crocuses are blooming? --MT
Back to Top
Through Feb. 28
Poet Doug Spangle and writer Larry Brooks (Darkness Bound) will speak at 7 pm on Feb. 16 at the Performing Arts Center in Newport. (541) 574-7708...Ashland poets Jonah Bornstein and Steve Dieffenbacher and Keiser short fiction writer Gina Ochsner will read at 7 pm on Feb. 19 upstairs at the Eugene Public Library.
Back to Top
Table of Contents | News | Views | Arts & Entertainment
Classifieds | Personals | EW Archive