Every mile is two in winter.

~ George Herbert, British poet

I took a few minutes today to look out the window.  Actually, maybe a lot of minutes.

I wanted to do something, anything other than laundry and dinner. Sarah Blacksmith, cowgirl of the Old West, knew how to avoid housework ~ she lived outside.

Now that’s a formidable woman.

I just have to accept that it’s December and the garden work is over.  I’ve hoed, dug, loosened, turned over, fertilized, limed, cut, transplanted, planted, divided, watered, and weeded. Everything is finished.  It’s time to toss a log on the fire, and while the garden sleeps, dig into my pile of books.  But I worry. Have I mulched the butterfly bush enough?  Are the new peonies protected?  Did I really mound the asparagus like I should have?  What if the garlic doesn’t come up?  Well, then I could plant…Oh, wait, I’ll look through a few seed catalogs.  I love how they begin: Acaena, Acantholimon, Acanthus, Achillea. And in the catalog, the weather is balmy. I am so there ~ in Nature’s Paradise of Eternal Life.

The catalog illustrations remind me of the blank journals Mary gave us last January. I started to fill the pages of mine with sketches and photos.

Yesterday I caught a glimpse of this brave little guy.

I wonder what winter has in store for him.  December 21 is the official start, the Full Cold Moon, time to make snacks….. for the critters. Make some for yours ~  roll pinecones in one part cornmeal and four parts peanut butter.

I wish I could cultivate the weather.  It’s never quite right.  But there are other things I can work at and pay attention to. Like writing.  I keep my notebook handy and scribble in it.  And when taking in a landscape, whether physical or emotional, I turn it sideways, like a sketchbook. Marion says it will deepen and broaden your view.   So on the next blank page of my journal, I sketch my garden plot and imagine the first fragile snowdrops waving in the raw spring wind.

I brew a pot of tea, sit by the fire and fall into a poem by Gary Snyder.

Paradise Found.

Toni 12/2010


    1. Hey Terry, you get it! Thanks for commiserating with me. I’m in New England and we’ve just begun the l-o-n-g march toward spring. Your photos are amazing. They remind me of our trip to Alaska, a truly pristine paradise. And don’t you just love WordPress snow? Toni


  1. i always take a lot of minutes to look out of the window. and yes it is december and winter’s colors of black, brown and grey will soon be enhanced by white of snow…each season has its own beauty.

    the days begin to lengthen soon after the 21st:)


    1. Thanks for the reminder, Ellie…I live for long sunny days.
      Our blog is already enhanced….until I ‘m ready to un-enhance it. 🙂


  2. Lovely words. Sigh.
    I read this, Toni, and immediately went out and straightened my untouched garden!! I always experience a sense of unease when I decide not to clear up the old vegetation. Unease due to guilt and a worry that I’m really just excusing my laziness with rationalization. But here’s my reasoning for letting the garden go to seed. (See an earlier piece on Peter Rowan’s song for some background color, er sound.)
    The birder in me knows that the birds do get SOME shelter from the masses of beebalm stalks, brown-eyed susan blossoms, sleeping beauty type vines and trellises loaded with spent bean and pea stalks. But another part of me knows that it took No Work from me to get it that way. So! I’ve decided to check my theory: beginning today I’m going to count who’s rummaging and sheltering under that morass of spent plants. As of 8:18 December 3rd: 5 white-throated sparrows, 10 juncos, a sparrow-type bird I’m not knowing yet. Could it be a fox sparrow? If yes, I’m not vindicated, but it’s a start mayhap.
    That said, I’m inspired every time I visit your gardens and think perhaps I could cull the non-seed dead stuff and leave mounds of protected vegetation, sort of how the farmer up the street does it with his hay and corn fields. He leaves a mound in the middle. That’s where rabbits and nesting birds can get established and stay safe all summer.


    1. Patty, your idea of the mound reminded me about middens. We saw plenty of them along the trails in Yellowstone. Midden is an old word for garbage dump (more or less). Squirrels burrow in and hide food, it’s like a Home Depot for nuts.
      At the base of a large tree, I saw a pile of shredded cones – a mound two or three feet deep and 20 or 30-feet across, riddled with holes and tunnels. Beneath those fluffy brown cone bracts and stems is a cache of green cones loaded with seeds, enough food to carry the squirrel through the long northern winter. So the farmer on your street is giving the critters a leg up, so to speak. What’s the latest rummage count on Shingle Mill?


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