A March moment

Our life is March weather, savage and serene in one hour. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even as I prepare a series of posts about the evolution of the garden, I am drawn into the drama of March weather. This past weekend was gloriously warm and sunny, full of blue skies and singing birds.

The light through last year’s hydrangea blossoms was magical  and the colorful sunset above the bare trees inspiring. But soon the wild winds of March blew in from the west, bending and creaking the bare trees. A day later, the snow began to fall, enormous fluffy flakes that coated everything in a magical layer of white. Never mind that the winter had already expressed itself in snow and ice many times, the effect was charming and worthy of a short video.

The snow melted by mid-afternoon, leaving the spring garden tasks visible once again, awaiting my pruner and loppers and shovel. And so March goes, an unpredictable yet compelling time of the year, promising so much for the months to come.

March is the month of expectation, the things we do not know.~ Emily Dickinson

All photos, video and text ©2022 by Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted.

Bejeweled

It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it. ~John Burroughs

I have become reacquainted with my garden this winter. Several times a day, Pixie and I wander out into the snow and ice – she romps in the snow as I stand and study the details of the garden in a new way.

I have no real love of winter – I find it cold, uncomfortable, and devoid of color – and yet I can always find beauty when I take the time to look.
One of my favorite fairy tales is the story of the twelve dancing princesses. They would escape their room each night, traveling through forests of gold, of silver, and of glass, to dance with their twelve princes. Last week’s ice storm brought total quiet to our neighborhood – no one stirred on the dangerous roads and everyone stayed inside, safe and warm. Yet outside stood the forest of glass, a fairy tale vision of frozen crystals coating each branch, each leaf, each faded blossom. (click on any photo to see the full-size image)

A brief snowfall coated the branches, allowing the ice and snow to sparkle through the woods and the garden, nature bejeweled and magical.

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand. ~Henry David Thoreau

Thanks to my intrepid lively Pixie, I left my warm fireplace to venture into the cold crystal beauty of the garden, and for that I am ever grateful. Each moment in the glass forest and garden felt magical, an echo of fairy tale romance. May each of you, my friends, wear out your dancing shoes as you follow an adventure into nature’s beauty, perhaps in your own backyard.

 . . . what you look out on is not the snow of Narnia but the snow of home, which is no less shimmering and white as it falls. The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep that you can hear its silence. ~Frederick Buechner

All photos and text ©2022 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except as noted.

Go to the winter woods

Where the forest murmurs there is music: ancient, everlasting. Go to the winter woods: listen there, look, watch . . . ~Fiona Macleod, Where the Forest Murmurs

Winter has truly arrived, with frequent snowfall and frigid temperatures. The browns and grays of the garden and woods have been transformed into visions of crystal magic.

There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. That is a loveliness to which surely none can be insensitive. ~Fiona Macleod

The familiar scenes of the garden are transformed, its bones and structure revealed as patterns and shapes. (click on any photo to see the larger view)

The woods and garden are visually connected by white instead of green.

The stone steps that lead to the lower garden are now just a suggestion of shape while the seedheads of plants still stand above the snow to nourish the birds.

Cherry tree

There’s just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special. ~Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home

The turquoise pot containing a blue fescue looks like an odd cactus, a rare spot of color in the winter landscape.

After months of mourning and tears from losing Angel, we decided it was time to add some puppy joy to our lives. We were lucky to bring home a 6 month old standard poodle puppy last week – her name is Pixie – “a cheerful, mischievous, vivacious female spirit” – a name which she lives up to very well.

She loves the snow and has created her own agility courses through it – she is quite the athlete and has free reign of the fenced-in garden and woods.

She is so fast that I’ve wondered more than once if she can actually teleport herself when I turn my head away for a few seconds and she is suddenly next to me!

(A special thanks to my niece Tracey for requesting that I add my music to this video)

It is good to snuggle up to a sweet creature and to watch her puppy antics . . . it is good to laugh again.

If you are experiencing snow and ice, I wish you warmth and safety amidst the beauty of winter; if you are in the midst of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, I wish you the joy of color and beauty filling your world.

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again. ~Bill Morgan Jr.

A lapse of time

No matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. ~Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

When I looked back over the year, I was surprised at some of the moments of beauty in the garden. Perhaps it was because I didn’t write about it or share many photos of it, or just that my attention was required elsewhere. My first blog of the year was in March and the second was in November, a long stretch of time without words, without pictures. It seems fitting at the end of the year to share some of the garden moments from April to October, the missing moments of the garden.

It was a turbulent year from the start, with weather alternating sharply between freeze and thaw, blue skies and gray, sunshine and fog, rain and snow. I cut some forsythia buds before a March snowstorm and brought them into the warmth to bloom.Forsythia cuttingsThe gateway to the garden changed quickly over the seasons, from a sudden snow in early April to the lushness of June. (click on any photo to see a larger image in the gallery)

Once through the gate, the steps and hillside leading to the lower garden went through the same transformation, from a hint of the garden to come to the lush growth of early summer.

The lower garden, distinctive in its concentric circles, transformed quickly in April beginning with the flowering of the weeping cherry in April then slowing down through the lushness of June and into late summer. By then, the deep transformation of the garden beds through months of pruning and removing unwanted plants left only the Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ and the native Phlox paniculata blooming.

There were some beautiful moments where flowers took front and center throughout the seasons.

Drastic weather events continued in June, when a tornado ripped through our neighborhood for 15 minutes, downing hundreds of beautiful oak trees. We suffered little damage on our property, losing one tree and another one injured, but our neighbor’s oaks crashed across the road and into our driveway, hanging by the electric lines. Until the power was turned off, we were trapped in our property with live wires in our side yard. Eventually, we were able to creep through the downed trees and several days later, they were cut down by the electric company and removed by the township. We were lucky to escape with only inconvenience and little damage to the gardens; others were trapped in their wooded properties for weeks, only able to leave by foot.

The upper deck became a small sanctuary during the summer as my garden helpers and I worked on a long overdue transformation of the garden beds. The bees and butterflies found their way up to the blooms and the cherry tomatoes were a sweet treat on hot summer days.

By October, a few plants were still in bloom, the autumn crocus, some roses, but the season was coming to an end.

I had two cataract surgeries in October, restoring my sight and my ability to take and accurately edit photos, something that had been difficult this year. Fortunately, I was able to shoot photos with my cell phone and press my finger to the surface to focus! It has been a challenging yet rewarding year of sudden starts and stops, crazy weather, loss of loved ones, yet also a year of renewal and regeneration both in my garden and in my self.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.  ~Lao Tzu

I leave you with my favorite photo of Angel from this year, as she stood beneath an arbor of roses. May all good things come to you in the new year, my dear readers – thank you for your patience with my absence on these pages and your kind gift of time and attention. May the year of 2022 bring you great blessings and joy!

A quiet Christmas

There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions. ~ Bill McKibben, American author and environmentalist

The winter light is bright in the garden, starkly shadowing the browns and grays of winter, yet still beautiful to me. The winter solstice has passed and now each day is a little longer, a little brighter.

The rooms were very still while the pages were softly turned and the winter sunshine crept in to touch the bright heads and serious faces with a Christmas greeting. ~ Louisa May Alcott

It is that time of year that nature is brought into the house in the form of greens and berries and fruit. I have been taking my time this year to “deck the halls”, making slow but steady progress in decorating the house, baking cookies and bread, writing Christmas notes by the fire, and just . . . remembering.

The trees are the first order of decorating business, no matter that it now takes me a week instead of 2 days to light them and hang the ornaments. Favorite Christmas music plays on the stereo while I place each ornament laden with nostalgia on the trees. I remember where and when I found each treasure – many came from our travels, pressed paper ornaments from New Mexico and a rustic nativity set handmade in Peru. Some were gifts from friends and family, who knew I loved angels as well as Angel.

The woodland tree in the family room is warm and earthy in tones of copper and brown, inspired by the view of our woods from the window. It is full of feathered birds, woodland creatures, rustic Santas and sparkling glass ornaments. (Click any photo in the mosaic to see a larger image)

The tree in the hallway is altogether different, hung with musical instruments, angels and celestial bodies in white, silver and gold. This is the tree that can be seen from the front entrance, glowing in the dark of night.

I went the extra mile this year, creating wreaths and arrangements of greens to “deck the halls” with color and fragrance. 

 

My favorite book of carols sits on the piano, and I play through a few each day. Music has been an integral part of Christmas for my whole life and I don’t think that will ever change. 

It’s about making your own raft of time. Your own doorway into Christmas. . . Ritual isn’t about multitasking. Ritual is time cut out of time. Done right it has profound psychological effects.” ~Jeanette Winterson, Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days

It is in the quiet moments of preparing for Christmas that I recall memories of family, of past holidays. As I baked cookies from my mother’s cookbook of favorite family recipes, I thought often of her. She passed away this May and I haven’t fully processed that loss, but it was comforting to bake familiar treats from her book. In addition to her many other talents, she was a marvelous baker – she made bread every weekend when my brothers and I were growing up, and was a master of pies, cookies, and cakes.

 

One of the joys this year was finding a new home for my mother’s beloved cat after she passed. Through the help of friends, sweet Olaf had a soft landing with a wonderful family who loves him and he even has a new cat brother Toby. Olaf seems content this Christmas with his family and I am so happy for him. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Nogrady)

It’s Christmas Eve now, time to play carols, read stories, wrap presents, maybe watch a favorite holiday movie. Wherever you are and whatever holiday you celebrate, I wish you a beautiful season full of light, warmth and love. Stay safe, my friends.

I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

All text and photos ©2021 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted.