“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck
The sun is brightly shining, as the frigid bitterness of the days prior, tempers to a delightful and balmy 45ᵒ
I’m on a mission.
A mission to find life amongst the frozen tundra known as the land I call home.
The ground still hard and frozen under foot, the bright winter sun brilliantly warming while accented by a cloudless azure sea of sky.
There is the scent of smoke in the air.
I have shed my heavy coat.
The nuthatches and chickadees chirp merrily as they poke and prod the hard ground for seed.
Nestled near a walkway cowers a small ancient birdbath now sadly frozen.
Amazingly just a few short steps beyond the solid frozen mass of water, leaves and straw lie tucked sweetly among the rocks, a tiny beautiful carpet of soft chartreuse moss begging to be rubbed. Is there any better feeling on a hot summer day, barefoot, finding a cool patch of moss. . .
All of the bushes and shrubs are now barren clumps of twisted sticks and twigs. Odd thing it seems now to have merely a garden of sticks verses the usual lush plump green leaves and vines which typically call this place home. Upon a close inspection of the gnarly twig clumps dotting the now leaf covered bank–there oddly remains a few shriveled grey masses protruding along the quince bushes. These alien nodules resemble some sort of grotesque growth rather than the usual crunchy yellow green orbs which typically adorn these showy asian orientals.
And just as Mother Nature, who seems to relish in her relentless taunting of our tender senses, would have this winter world of cold appear hopelessly void of any semblance of colorful life, I spy a tenacious little champion of all that screams LIFE.
It is the lowly, albeit stubborn, bane of any gardener. . .the hardy and nearly indestructible dandelion.
The ground a hard frozen mass, the winds and temperatures so brutal that almost all vegetation has either perished or will surly be stunted come the growing season, and yet, this most noxious of garden foes not only maintains its place in the pecking order of nature, but appears to thrive—-providing any and all who happen to pass by a bit of colorful joy in a bleak and oh so cold world.
So yes Mr. Steinbeck, it is to this winter that we must acknowledge there is indeed a sweetness to be had—in just about 5 months or so we will have all but forgotten these current cold long shadowed days. This barren world will no longer exist. Our seemingly long deprived senses will be filled and overflowing—
Yet until those long warmer days arrive, I shall continue my quest, my mission—and that is to find those hidden breadcrumbs which a previous season has strewn along its departure– leaving behind a tantalizing trail to remind me that better days are indeed ahead!