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Monday, December 7, 2009

Time Goes On

The snow has come.  Real snow, not the kind that disappears in West Virginia mud. No, this is the real thing.  big white flakes that crash onto the earth and stay there, almost covering the ground. Alright, so it is not quite ski snow, but for early December it is enough.  It hung on overnight until the next day's sun melted much of it away.  But for snow lovers, there is a remnant to be enjoyed.  Our hills and hollows provide plenty of niches where the sun's rays never touch.  We have several of those within sight of the house. 

This morning I went to the barn to bring the car up to the house. The scant light of early morning sunrise reflected bits of snow clinging to logs and depressions made in the fallen leaves. Logs, once hidden now look like white pick-up-sticks strewn on the forest floor.
The garden and yard are almost ready for winter.  As usual, procrastination has left a few things undone. 
 There are some terra cotta pots that need to be put away but the japanese maple seedling is now ready for the coming season.  In late winter, seedlings are prime targets for deer and other browsers. It is hard for trees to make it the first few years without being nipped off, leaving green wood exposed to the elements. 
The maple now has its own fort to protect it and perhaps confuse the deer.  When I study the photo, I cannot find the tree.  Perhaps the deer will have the same trouble even if they get their mouths through the barrier.  To make this fortress, I took cuttings from our apple trees. and stuck them into the ground around the seedling.  I then took apart a broken bamboo window blind and started weaving. 
As I wove higher, I insesrted more ribs of bamboo, allowing me to close in some of the larger gaps.  It may not fool the deer, but I did enjoy a zen moment while weaving the structure.
Most of the plants in my garden are now resting but now all.  Baby's breath has continued to bloom and is blooming right under the snow mixing its white blossoms with the frozen flakes.
One thing I don't do in the garden as I prepare it for winter, is to cut down the stalks of flowers which have finished blooming.  The blooms are nice in the summer for the bees, butterflies and the human visitors, but in the winter their remains are crucial to the life of small birds.
A bird loses a huge percent of its body weight each winter night making availability of early morning forage important.  If the bird knows where to go for those breakfast calories and has plenty of food offered, then its chances of survival increase.  Those of us with feeders know to expect the birds at first light.  The ragged brown stalks mean a messier garden, but, also, more enjoyment from watching the birds and feeling good about myself for offering some help.
Other chores left undone quickly dissipate that sense of self satisfaction.  The metal furniture still needs put away as do the two herons.  If the herons are left in the beds their perches will gradually succomb to the freezing and thawing of the ground and they will eventually fall over, looking not a bit graceful.

Another thing that probably should be done - that I refuse to do - is put away the sundial that is part of a sculpture near the stone wall that makes up one boundary of the garden.  By not putting away the sundial, I realize that I must paint it again when spring comes, but I would miss it too much through the long winter months when its meaning brings me hope for the coming spring.

Father Time and Family sit patiently through whatever the seasons have to offer from the bright greens and new birth that are spring, to the darker greens and hot days of August to the oranges and purples arriving in late summer and fall.  But it is in the white and gray days of winter that I love them the most.  While they stand guard over their part of the garden, steadfast, unmoving, they reminding me that life goes on, is reborn and continues.  Spring will come again.  I only need to be patient.

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