The garden in winter has a lot to say for itself even when there doesn’t seem to be much happening. Yesterday I tossed a hard loaf of bread and some tired old pumpkins out the back door. Some birds came to the bread loaf right away, and then a deer. The deer had her back to me, but when she heard whatever tiny slight sound I made behind my window, she struck a pose I’d never seen before, and my camera was not in reach. She swiveled her neck 180 degrees, so her face was turned directly toward me, while her body stayed entirely pointed the other way. I didn’t know deer could do that; it made her neck look very long. When she moved on, I found my phone and googled “are deer related to giraffes.” The answer was – yes!
This morning I found a fuller record of visiting diners stamped into the snow: more deer hoofprints, a bunch of squirrel pawprints, and prints of a cat, but probably that was Mac from up the street, tracking the birds. The front yard recorded an activity I didn’t understand right away: what were the deer doing over where the storm had put the top half a crabapple tree on the ground? I could see the drag marks of deer walking up, and then the crisper prints of deer taking short steps and standing around. A closer look, and aha, the top of the tree, which was now the bottom of the tree, still had dried crabapples on it. I wonder if deer know to look for this after a storm, or if they just stumbled on it.
Another record of recent past events was in the sky. It’s a bright, gorgeous day today, with not a cloud in the sky. Except where jets passed through it. The sky trails of enormous birds.
Nearer to the house, spring’s spear carriers are on the job, trailblazing for the daffodils to follow. They start coming up while still covered in snow, but if snow surfaces show any signs of this I haven’t learned them yet.
And here by the front door are the faithful hellebores, living up to their common name, Lenten Roses. They gave up snow, or possibly living underground, for lent. We have a lot to do before spring – clearing off the old seedheads and brushy bits I left standing as winter shelter for small critters; getting the fallen tree off the garden fence and making anti-bunny/anti-deer repairs; having a real tree service trim off breaks and snags. With so much damage in our area, it’s taking weeks just to get an estimate. At least I don’t have to worry about the woodchuck. Yet. When she does emerge she’s going to be very hungry.