A Moment’s Grace

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. . . For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. ~Wendell Berry, American poet and visionary

Bulbs ready to plantNovember has been a turbulent month. October was a slow graceful dance into the dying year, still filled with bloom and color, but November’s winds and weather grabbed and shook the world into the gateway of winter. For the first time in many years, I ordered bulbs to plant in the garden. Inspired by the renewal of the garden paths (see The Big Picture), I imagined a glorious spring filled with bulbs blooming in impossible beauty. What I forgot was how low one must bend to plant them in the earth!

After weeks of digging, only a last few crocus and scilla remain on my dining room table, awaiting placement along the path to the birdbath. After waves of sleet, rain, ferocious winds, and snow, this weekend’s mild temperatures may soften the frozen soil and provide a moment’s grace to complete the work of this weary but hopeful gardener. Winter has arrived, snow lies all around and the only growth in nature is taking place unseen, underground. The growing season is on pause and I am content to rest from my garden labors and dream about the spring to come. A moment’s grace indeed. Click on any photo to start the slideshow (All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough? ~Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry, poet, book author, gardener, and environmental visionary, was interviewed by Bill Moyers last year. See the amazing video here at Wendell Berry on His Hopes for Humanity and listen to him read “The Peace of Wild Things” (20:36).

January Thaw

Winter, an artist’s sketch in charcoal,
so clearly etched against a cloud filled sky . . .
~ from the song “Winter” 

After weeks of “real” winter, complete with snow, ice, and sleet, the rains came yesterday. Thick layers of snow and ice began to crumble and melt in the suddenly warm temperatures, assaulted by alternating pounding rainstorms and soft drizzles.  By evening, a fog had arisen between the melting snow and the warm air and swirled upwards throughout the night.  This morning, mist and fog lay heavily in the woods and along the streams, turning the winter landscape into a mysteriously beautiful January thaw.

I felt as if I were moving through a dream as I walked through the woods. The dark trunks of immense oaks stood like sentinels guarding a secret kingdom in the mist, fading to gray in the distance. Drops of water clung to delicate twigs and buds like sprays of crystals. Snow lingered in pockets, slowly seeping into the garden beds and revealing fresh green growth.

January thaw is an observed but unexplained temperature rise in mid-winter found in mid-latitude North America.” (Wikipedia) The thaw is generally centered around the date of January 25, when a rise of temperatures by 10 degrees Fahrenheit occurs for about a week. The Farmer’s Almanac notes its common designation as “false spring” and compares it to the phenomenon of Indian Summer, the predictable surge of warm weather in autumn. This year, certainly, the thaw is more than 10 degrees warmer than usual; yesterday’s temperature reached 50 F and today will be a balmy 64 F.

The sun is shining now, the mist a memory. I intend to celebrate the January thaw by working in the garden while dreaming of the arrival of “real spring.” Enjoy the morning walk in the woods with me. (Click on any photo to trigger the gallery view)

There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter.  One is the January thaw.  The other is the seed catalogues.
–  Hal Borland

Winter 12/21/12

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.  ~Robert Frost

The wind howling outside my window woke me up early this morning.  WInter is on its way to Western Pennsylvania, after sweeping through the Midwest and laying a trail of snow across the country. It is still warm and wet here this morning but that is predicted to change in a few hours, a change carried by the wind that is now shaking the bare treetops in a wild dance. I am of two minds about winter. When there is snow and ice, it is breathtakingly beautiful but also dangerous. When there is no snow and ice, it is brown and gray but less harsh as well. Perhaps I enjoy both and the constant shift between.  As I contemplate another winter solstice, one surrounded by a great deal of speculation, fear, and hope, I offer a song that I featured last year at this time. Enjoy the return of longer days.

You can’t get too much winter in the winter.  ~Robert Frost