Finding our winter garden
I’m missing our summer flower garden. I’m daydreaming about heirloom tomatoes, long green hoses and unearthing our sand box. Saturday it was finally, finally, finally mild enough to take the boys outside and play in the snow! (Yes, that statement necessitated 3 finallys and an exclamation point, and this one some italics, because it’s been so darn cold… for a really long time.) I’m sure you’ve seen the stats on that unaccommodating groundhog out in PA, too. He’s seen his shadow 100 times out of the past 117, which does not fare well for an early spring.
We’ve entered the juncture of winter that makes my mudroom feel like a hopeless, noxious, cluttered mess and my motivation to clean it up once again has left the building. I haven’t worn cute shoes in so long they probably need dusting, for fear the salt, snow and ice might either kill me or the shoes. And for the love of it all, how come I can never, ever seem to locate 2 sets of mittens each morning?
Nonetheless, once the fresh air buffed up my rose-colored glasses and a ride on our swing set began to carry my winter doldrums away, I started to appreciate something new about the gray sky and white coverlet of winter. They are perfect backgrounds to the colors that do break out above the multiple layers of snow. The contrast brings the few objects closer, it makes the hues brighter, and it gives light to that which normally lies hidden among fresh carpets of grass and a canopy of thick leaves. Summer’s door may be locked tight still, but every now and then a weathered window is cracked ajar, propped up with a scrap 2×4 to remind us, color and nature are coming. Spring will eventually be on its way, the gray won’t last forever.
While I’m craving the colors of long days and warm nights, there is still a garden to enjoy this winter, as the French say, a jardin d’hiver on display. Our winter garden needs less tending and more patience, but it’s there. It entices with a simpler and sharper perspective all the same. It does not have bee balm, hollyhocks or foxglove. No early blooming daffodils, tulips or lavender crocus. And, merely a few huddled pigeons and a lone, hungry tree sparrow mark the gray sky with their color. But it’s there.
Our jardin d’hiver mimics the color parade of summer, just in a different presentation. Instead of red roses and brilliant monarda, we find vibrant reds from barns and knit hats. No green sedum or bright coleus, just true greens from winter wreaths and john deere tractors. Blue sleds catch your eye with neon sisal rope. And, tractor wheel wells mimic inverted sunflowers.
Earthy browns show up on sandy dogs, in hot cocoa and carhartts.
Dragonflies become snow angels, and snow-clad swings fly just as high against the gray as they do the blue sky. If I hadn’t taken these pictures or attempted to put words to them, I would have missed it – our jardin d’hiver. But it was there all along, just waiting for me to see it amidst the cold and the clouds.
Until that glorious weekend when the fear of frost is gone, the earth has thawed and the sun is playing pied piper to the plants and trees, we’ll just have to get our fill of winter’s offerings and pretend we’ll be reaping and sowing very soon. I don’t have spring fever, I think I have summer fervor.
Carry on winter warriors. The first day of spring is 6 weeks away, and if you wanna dream big, the first day of summer is a little over 4 months away. Gymboree mittens – you’ve been warned. Your days are numbered.