One winter day
something will shine out
from an everyday object
and the darkness will flood with light.
Something we have seen
a thousand times
the sentinel of
– Marv and Nancy Hiles
(The two above shots were taken just after 5 p.m. on 17 February)
Winter time in northern New England, again, and we’re rendered plant-blind by the snow and ice that collapses colour and shape to a lumpy white sameness, pools like a bridal train around trees, rocks, shrubs, fences, mailboxes. This has been a low-snow winter, so far, but some snow — fluffy, crusty, or icy — has persisted across our gardens since mid-December, lawns and low plants alike hidden from view.
Yet, below the snow, below the frozen ground, life continues without our witness.
“January is the quietest month in the garden. … But just because it looks quiet doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. The soil, open to the sky, absorbs the pure rainfall while microorganisms convert tilled-under fodder into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants. The feasting earthworms tunnel along, aerating the soil and preparing it to welcome the seeds and bare roots to come.” — Rosalie Muller Wright
Somewhere, underneath, inside, out of human view, something is happening.
Meanwhile, above ground, as temperatures shift from -20F to 50 and back, sometimes within 48 hours, the birds, squirrels, deer, and foxes with whom we share this piece of land try to stay warm, try to find food and water, and often spend time in each other’s company.
A young deer visited for a few days in a row; this was on 25 January:
And the common winter birds — chickadee, goldfinch, juncos, mourning doves, cardinals (always in pairs, but the male is much more skittish), titmice, sparrows, crows, blue jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, robins — photographed from too many yards away:
On 5 Feb, more than 25 robins visited for a couple of hours, enjoying the fermenting apples:
Some plants and garden areas are recognisable and quite lovely wearing white:
“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Soon, all will be revealed, but for now, I’m enjoying the experience of a secret world.