Toward Solstice

b winter yardThe snow has melted again, but the yard has clearly shifted into winter landscape. The zebra grass has gone blonde, the birch tree displays its fine bone structure, and random shallow holes speckle the ground where squirrels are able to stash a few last walnuts, chestnuts, or acorns in the still-green lawn.

b winter gardenOut in the fenced garden the raised beds are asleep, tulip bulbs tucked in against spring rabbits. The blueberry nets have abandoned their frames to spend a quiet winter curled up in the garage. Too cold for the cold frame, so we’ve taken the lid inside to protect it – or rather, to protect the hinges from the ripping power of winds.

b hellebore hatThe green that lingers longest is also the one that comes back first. I tried last spring to establish hellebore in the hat of my Green Lady, who sits on the north side of my garage. Nothing happened until November, when the sprout appeared that became this lovely sprig. It will continue green as winter goes on, but by the time it’s looking really weather-beaten in early March, it will shrug, brighten back up, and bloom.

It still seem miraculous to me, that these trees, these bushes, these very flowerbeds, undergo this transition year after year, green to gold to grey to white. Like the diva changing the lightbulb, I stand in one place while the world turns around me. Warmer or colder, wetter or drier, the differences are nothing to the overwhelming continuity, the reliability, the reassurance that this wheel will turn without our leaning on it. Some people get this from religion. I get it from the world.

Meanwhile, inside the south-facing window of my workroom, the Cobra hothouse tomato seeds also know what they’re doing. Here they come.b seedlings

Signs in the Snow

b snow laceThe first full-coverage snowfall lifts the heart in a way the snows of March just cannot do. Everything was green, and now it’s white – isn’t that miraculous? The yard that was looking a tad ratty is now glorious with fairy lace. It’s beautiful, and I expect that of snow. But it does other things that are more surprising.

b many deer tracksFor example, one look at the snow and it’s clear I am not seeing most of what the deer are up to. Look at all the traffic! It’s a deer parade ground out there. The path from house to garden gate has been picked out by the snow, but all the other trails were made by deer. They sort of drag their toes as they walk, making the characteristic little swoop as they go. From closer up you can see their heart-shaped hoof prints stamped into each step.

b more deer tracksWhere were they going? Over here, apparently. Their trails go in and out of a cozy, secluded sleeping spot under thick evergreens.

b tree anglesSnow also does a forensic on the weeping cherry. That’s a most un-treelike right angle, there, and whatever was once at the narrow end of it has broken away. These branches overhang the driveway. Hmmmm. Thanks for letting me know about that, snow.

b new tomato homeMeanwhile on the other side of the windows, the geranium has kindly made way for two much larger pots for a new crop of hothouse tomatoes. These pots are about twice as big as those in my first indoor tomato trial. Tomatoes will root deeply and be fairly drought resistant if you give them a chance. The small pots didn’t. I filled these with new potting soil and planted “Cobra” variety tomato seeds. The tomatoes will be nice and warm there, but still have a view of the snow, just like me. Progress reports will follow.