Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The annual giving of thanks

Every year at this time, people across America ritually gather to give thanks for what they have. I try to do the same thing mentally every day, counting my blessings -- difficult to do when times are tough, but always worth the effort because it revives appreciation of life and all that is good therein.

My personal thanksgiving ritual occurs at a different time of year. I wrote about it in the introduction to my book, Open Your Heart with Gardens:

Each year, it happens afresh:

"After months of brown and gray and white . . . cold and hard and dark . . . the day comes when I step outside and behold a tip of green protruding from the ground.

"The first daffodil!

"The sight of it drops me to my knees, mentally chanting, Thankyouthankyouthankyou! Then I leap up into The Happy Dance because there at my feet lies proof that the world has kept turning, the invisible forces of the universe have kept churning, and Mother Nature has again fulfilled her promise despite everything I doubted and feared.


No daffodils now, but the promise of rebirth associated with them is what I most give thanks for as the year draws down and cold and darkness pervade.

Carolyn Haley

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Stick season

Here in the hilly section of Vermont, there are a lot of jokes (and complaints) about the weather. They're all true, by the way. It's the most weather-dominant place I've ever lived, which doesn't help with gardening!

Nevertheless, despite my own complaints, I like the weather here. It's dramatic and primal -- an Event, almost every day. And very rich with color. I've taken to determining seasons by color, since the calendar doesn't seem to have anything to do with it. Right now, rolling into November, we've entered Stick Season.

Stick Season is primarily brown and gray. With all the leaves down (except coppery beech and rusty oak), the landscape is a mass of brown and gray vertical lines overlaying brown and gray undulations. The skies are myriad shades of gray, usually roiling, reflected back by gunmetal gray waters. This monotony is punctuated by the aptly named evergreens, and given contrast by beige and mustard grasses, plus the surprising gold of larches and even more surprising shafts of golden sunbeams slanting through holes in the gray clouds.

In all, starkly beautiful. Soon to be blanketed with white. But it's nice to see the bones of the land for a little while, and to glimpse homes and other features normally masked by dense foliage. We get Stick Season in reverse during April, when the white blanket retreats and reveals the world naked before greens reemerge to clothe it.

So Stick Season is brown and gray. Winter is white, blue, and lavender. Not-Winter is green with fiesta-colored accents. Foliage Season is just the party colors. Some folks add Mud Season to this roster, but I lump that under Stick Season. The spring and fall are always wet and yucky underfoot, and in our immediate area we don't get the dissolving, rutted roads that suck vehicles in up to their floor pans (for which Mud Season is named), so I'll stick with my nomenclature.

The only problem is, Winter is 5 months long, Not-Winter is 4, Stick Season is 3, and Foliage Season less than 1. According to the calendar, each season is supposed to be 3 months long. Hah!

Carolyn Haley

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