During January, February, and the first week of March of last winter, I was surrounded by lovely people, tropical hummingbirds, butterflies, bright flowers, and the Caribbean Sea. A few days ago, when snow was falling all around Flower Hill Farm Retreat, I was not longing for the beauty and warmth of Treasure Beach, Jamaica. Being home is inspiring. The beauty of snow fog adds a mystical and mysterious element to being out in the gardens and landscape. The leafless trees and shrubs are like the bones of the gardens. Living sculptures and forms that hold promise.
As I walk up from the forest edge into the North Field, I always enjoy this composition of trees leaning towards the gardens, my old farmhouse, and barn studio. I love seeing skeletal branches reaching into the air with feathery fine lines as they stretch to their tips. Here White and Gray Birch frame my favorite serpentine Black Cherry. I cannot see or hear it, but I am certain there is a subtle dialogue between these trees. They are closely interconnected below. Sometimes I am able to sense and feel inside and a part of their tender world.
Naked giants with white laced edges stand solid between an old, sad shed and the farmhouse. I imagine the mass of life beneath the trees entwined and securing their hold in and above the crust of earth. These Rock Maples are over two-hundred years old. I have known them for nearly forty of those years. They are old dear friends to one another and me. When they are clothed in viridescent canopies, the farmhouse stays cool. Now, the sun streams into south facing rooms offering warmth and light during the darker days of winter. I love the poetry in this photograph. The vulnerable shed like the human condition overshadowed by the monument of Mother Nature. We humans are nature. In our blind attempts to destroy and exploit the core and health of nature, we will destroy ourselves.
Forms of tree trunks and dancing branches are revealed in absence of green. Fluid, flowing lines intertwine between spaces of white. Required pruning is easily noted during the dreaming months of winter. Considerately cutting, while the trees sleep, shapes become animated and seem to communicate with each other and me.
Boulders under blankets of snow also offer shape and interest to the garden. Beautiful when juxtaposed with the dark trunk of a bonsai-like apple tree.
Other apples join to create a gateway into the blueberry fields. I brush up against many memories of wildlife encounters each time I pass under the arching branches. Suddenly, a green apple in the mouth of a female porcupine enters the black and white realm. Summers ago, I observed her in the connected canopies lounging and dining on the apples and lithe limbs.
I often imagine my Black Cherry tree as a stately stallion. Especially when he wears a saddle of snow. For years, I enjoyed watching the Baltimore Orioles raising their young high in this favored native. Blasts of bright orange coming and going while weaving nests and harvesting food.
With more snow this will be a great sled run. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, our calendars tell us what we have been experiencing for weeks now. Winter has officially begun. Today will be our shortest day of light. Tomorrow minutes will begin to pile back on towards spring and the return of more colorful landscapes.
Wishing all a Happy Winter Solstice.
Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year and all the challenges in store for us, as individuals, as families, and as a country and world community. Blessings and Peace and Justice for all.