There was just a dusting of snow on the ground when I went outside this morning, but that small change in the look of the landscape alerted me that stories were being told everywhere I looked. There were thousands…perhaps millions of conversations and narratives all around me. Here are a just few of those I noticed.
This is the leaf that opened my eyes to the stories all around me. “I was there when the snow came down,” it said, “but an ever so slight breeze let me dance two steps to the side.”
Under the birdfeeder the tracks told me that in the short time between dawn and my arrival with the seed, many birds had been here, looking for food.
As always the view of Scorton Creek just after dawn tells tales and sings songs. It speaks of the rhythm of the tides, the promise of a clear day, the patience of the dormant plants that are safeguarding their resources during the winter, and the temperatures of the soil that melt the snow in one place but keep it fresh elsewhere.
When I go to the woodpile to bring in logs for the stove, I uncover a small mouse nest. It tells of tiny, soft pieces, carefully gathered and assembled four feet off the ground. Bits of hydrangea flowers, fur, grasses, and pine needles, ornamented with one small feather.
The Pieris japonica ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ buds speak of patience during the cold season, but endurance done with style. When much of the winter landscape is decked in brown, gray and white, this shrub speaks of fortitude with flair.
Great observations. It reminds me of years ago when I would paddle my canoe in the early mornings on the Charles River with a little fog and dew covering the shore. So peaceful and much nature to see and appreciate.
I too love going out and visiting the perennial gardens every day throughout the winter. I am curious about what has stayed green and what has disappeared below the soil. This is the first year I have left leaves in several of the gardens. I usually rake them clean and cut everything back. I’m hoping I haven’t made a mistake.
Now that the Christmas crush has passed I’m beginning to think about spring. I received my first e mail from a cut flower farm yesterday. In two days they will start selling their seeds. I thought I would give zinnias a try this year. It will require creating a new flower bed in part of the only patch of sun I have left. It will also mean that the area of lawn we have worked so hard to maintain will become even smaller. In the end, flowers are so much more rewarding than grass.
There are pros and cons to leaving the leaves. Since many valuable insect species overwinter in “leaf litter” it can be good to let them stay. But of course, other critters and insects we may not want can stay cozy and hidden as well. I compromise – some of my gardens have the leaves left all winter and they are then blown or raked into the woods after winter. Others I clear out in the fall, and still others we clear but chop the leaves with a lawn mower and then replace them as mulch in the gardens.