Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Life of Winter

Many people think winter is a dead time of year. Next to nothing is green. The grass goes brown, all of the crowned deciduous glories of spring and summer have shed their leaves, and delicate blossoms of various colors shriveled up and dropped away into the leaf litter. Nothing but the towering pines, relatives of trees that almost symbolize the winter season itself, are left in their "forever" dim greens. Vegetable gardens shrink away into oblivion, and vines and shrubs go dormant. With the cold, sunless air, the feeling of loss and death seem to be all around.

But, clearly, this is not the case. Nothing has really died (unless it happens to be a neglected houseplant that was set out on the front porch and forgotten). Life is everywhere still, shooting beneath bark and soil, glimmering invisibly like fairy dust in nature's veins. Under the layers of cold is a life that cannot be extinguished by the nature surrounding it. It only sleeps or moves more slowly, more carefully, during this time.

This life was very clearly evident as I wandered about the property today, clutching my very own camera this time. It was the calm before the storm, slightly warmer than usual, but still chilling to the face. I was bundled up enough to keep the bite out, taking care to make sure the cold air didn't get into my lungs too quickly and worsen the cough that seems to be staying with me for a winter vacation. It's been some time since I was last let loose among the nature of our yard, and this trip was magical for me. The first photo shoot of the year and the first time I have really been able to go outside since the last half of December (due to the flu).

Of course, I was not disappointed by my "dead" findings. My parents were outside planting our baby blueberry bushes where fruitless trees once stood and quickly informed me that there were deer bedding down near the blackberry patch. The smashed grasses I found there were clearly made by such dainty hooved creatures, and I smiled as I imagined their slim bodies coming so close to the house to stay warm, and that we were able to provide them with some place to go during the icy nights. Goodness knows how many are there, but I have unknowingly come close to one that was near the front deck in late fall when I went outside. It jumped up loudly and bounded down the yard and across the street in a brown smear. I would guess it was a doe, but I didn't get a good enough glance to tell for sure. But there are undoubtedly deer living or at least spending significant time on our property, leaving their footprints about the soft earth.

I stopped to watch my parents plant a pink lemonade blueberry bush later, laughing with my mom at the fact that the entire root ball was frozen as she tried to pry the compacted roots apart before she settled the plant into the freshly dug hole. And frozen it was, though the bush didn't seem to mind in the slightest, standing tall and healthy even though it had no leaves.

Near the edge of the yard where the woods technically start were these little fluffy, twiggy plants. I'm not sure at all what they are, but they are...well, fluffy. Quite photogenic, too, and very fairy-like. Just the most fragile, soft looking tufts of softness I have ever seen. I like them quite a lot.

I headed for my next love moments later: a big patch of moss behind the greenhouse and under the pear trees. It looks a little worn and, honestly, fried, but there was a lovely ol' rock, pretty thing, surrounded by the spongy green stuff and deserved a picture. I'll never miss an opportunity to look for some moss. I'm surprised I haven't gotten some to put in pots here in the house. I ought to do that when it's warmer out.

It's been cold here, too. Very cold, and it's supposed to get even colder. This means that anything that collected the rain we had back in December has frozen over. Most of these containers have branches, leaves, and plants in them, making for very interesting photo opportunities. The ice in the fire pit attracted me first. It's full of branches and leaves that had been tossed in to burn sometime back, now resulting in a unique arrangement of preserved greenery and trapped air bubbles. If I could keep ice in a jar for decorative purposes, I would do it without a second thought....I may even put moss in the bottom of it! Next I saw that my mom's bog plant barrel had also frozen over, and the beautiful pitcher plants were sticking straight out of the ice. It was quite beautiful in a simple, frozen way, and I was glad I could capture it.

Random other little pretty things caught my eye as I wandered about. After a while, I eventually turned my eyes to the darkening sky. A winter storm is on the way, and in the distance I could see the cloud warning of upset. The way they bubbled, darker than the rest of the skyward blanket of cotton, spoke of snow, something we don't get much of around here except by freak accident. Time to settle in for the night and wait out the ice and very freezing temperatures.

At the moment, I am snuggled down at my computer with a hot cup of tea, still feeling inspired from finding the life still in winter.

Have a happy Sunday, everyone! Stay warm and safe, especially with it getting so cold! ♥