Sunday, November 21, 2021

Suddenly Winter

How did I miss it?  Was I asleep, beginning hibernation at the onset of cold weather, plodding in stupor through the daily cycle of wake-eat-work-eat-sleep?  Was I distracted, preoccupied with the mundane tasks of life and inattentive to the greater world?  Is this how empires crumble, marriages collapse, and friendships end, with inobservance and insouciance?

Regardless, I realized with shock this week that Fall was past and Winter was suddenly present.  Perhaps it was the first recent chance to walk the garden in daylight on 11/18/21, the first time for the past week since nighttime now begins at 5:00 p.m. and I'm seldom home in daylight.  I only made it early on Thursday because I'd gotten my COVID booster the previous day and had run a fever and chills for the past 24 hours.  It will, by the way, be a cold day in hell or in winter before I get another COVID booster.  Why take an annual vaccine that certainly makes me sick every year to prevent the small chance I get sick? Three days later and I'm still not normally controlling my internal temperature when active. 

But I digress down the deep slope to COVID anger.   More pertinent to the subject of today, the leaves all dropped, seemingly overnight, from trees and shrubs galore.  I'm not ready, not prepared at all mentally and emotionally, for winter.  The granite bench in front of my River Birch no longer is hidden in shade by the protective limbs of the birch (above, top), and my 'Jane Magnolia' (left) is bare but for the fuzzy light green buds that I'll have to protect from the equally fuzzy lips of hungry deer.  Even the 'October Glory' maple of my last blog post has dropped a huge portion of its leaves, an unusual occurrence this early in winter.   All that remains of Fall in the garden are the still-shimmering shafts of the ornamental grasses.  The small clump of Miscanthus sinensis 'Malepartus', pictured below, remains a pleasing sight, catching the last rays of sun in a cooling world.

'Malepartus' is, however, a symbol of hope for me this winter.  I received him as a very small division given away by the K-State gardens last fall and in a single year of planting it is already a reasonably substantial garden presence.  Only time and winter will tell me if he can hold on to these silvery seedheads or whether they, too, will be quickly dispatched by the cruel onset of the first "polar express."  All I can do is wait now, and watch, and try to be present in the garden for its trials and triumphs.  I'm out there now, hurrying to spread new straw in the strawberry patch before the cold can dash my hopes for next spring's harvest.   A gardener never fully rests.

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