This December I have been slowly working on the task of clearing the garden -- cutting the spent stalks of ferns and perennials from last year's blooms, scattering any seeds I find for the birds or for future germination, and mulching the rose bushes in case of a cold winter. I find it easy and comfortable to be on the ground on all 4's, since then gravity is not compressing my spine.
Each morning I tour the garden, gently moving along the garden paths under the pine trees or out in the open. Noticing whatever there is to notice. I notice holes dug by the squirrels, looking for nuts they have buried. I notice the leaves covering the ground. I notice the tightly curled rhododendron leaves. I notice the colors -- browns and greens mostly, with red berries on the crabapple tree. There are huge, green foxglove leaves starting to wilt in the cold. I leave them alone now, after one year pruning them back and the plants all died. I notice the nuthatches walking down the trunks of trees in search of bugs to eat.
And this month I noticed something that I have never seen before in the garden in December. It was on December 1st, no less. There on the ground was the green tip of a gallanthum (snow drop) shoot coming out of the ground.
I had seen the shoots occasionally appear in January in recent years, and then the flowers would bloom in February. Named 'snow drops' because they really do look like little drops of snow, and they really do bloom under the snow. One of the first things to bloom in the late winter and early spring. Before the crocus even. But it was still autumn on December first, and the snow drops were there. I checked yesterday, and found even more -- now 8 shots peeking out of the ground. So I covered them with leaves to protect them from the cold.
We have had the most peculiar weather this fall. Warm days in the 50's, with much rain, and then days in the 20's. Maybe the plants thought our cold snap in November was it for winter. Well if so, they will be surprised by the 14" of snow we are supposed to get tomorrow, 2 days before the winter solstice.
Sunday Dec. 21 @ 7:04 a.m. is the official beginning of winter, and I am curious how long it will last this year. I guess we'll find out!