Sentinel of Another World

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
suddenly becomes
the sentinel of
another world.
– Marv and Nancy Hiles

*

skycloudspartialmoon5pm17Feb2016 skycloudstreetops5pm17Feb2016

(The two above shots were taken just after 5 p.m. on 17 February)

ice pellets on snow, 28 Jan
ice pellets on snow, 28 Jan

*

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.

sideyardrockwallNorwaymaplesnow5Feb2016

*

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.

grey squirrel, 29 Jan
grey squirrel, 29 Jan
M2E70L214-214R408B330
two grey squirrel on motion camera, 31 Jan
red squirrel in apple tree, 1 Feb
red squirrel in apple tree, 1 Feb
two deer on motion camera, 31 Jan
two deer on motion camera, 31 Jan
M2E80L232-232R404B325
deer on motion camera, 27 Jan
fox on motion camera, 1 Feb
fox on motion camera, 1 Feb

A young deer visited for a few days in a row; this was on 25 January:

youngdeerfaceheaddownsnow25Jan2016 youngdeerrearlookingbackalertsnow25Jan2016 youngdeersidelegupmovingsnow25Jan2016

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:

chickadee, 15 Jan
chickadee, 15 Jan
tufted titmouse, 16 Jan
tufted titmouse, 16 Jan
downy woodpecker and sparrow, 18 Jan
downy woodpecker and sparrow, 18 Jan
male cardinal, 22 Jan
male cardinal, 22 Jan
blue jay, 28 Jan
blue jay, 28 Jan
female cardinal, 29 Jan
female cardinal, 29 Jan
nine goldfinches, 3 Feb
nine goldfinches, 3 Feb
junco, 3 Feb
junco, 3 Feb
male downy woodpecker, 12 Feb
male downy woodpecker, 12 Feb
mourning dove, 16 Feb
mourning dove, 16 Feb
three crows on the motion camera, 29 Jan
three crows on the motion camera, 29 Jan

On 5 Feb, more than 25 robins visited for a couple of hours, enjoying the fermenting apples:

fifteenrobinssnow5Feb2016 sevenrobinsflightsnow5Feb2016 sixrobinsapplessnow5Feb2016

 

*

*

Some plants and garden areas are recognisable and quite lovely wearing white:

hydrangea, 16 Feb
hydrangea, 16 Feb
sedum with seedheads from another plant, 14 Feb
sedum with seedheads from another plant, 14 Feb
back border with grasses, Joe Pye weed, 9 Feb
back border with grasses, Joe Pye weed, 9 Feb
sunroom border with grasses, globe thistle, and a butterfly bush at the far end, 5 Feb
sunroom border with grasses, globe thistle, and a butterfly bush at the far end, 5 Feb
Bowman's Root (Gillenia trifilia 'Pink Profusion), 28 Jan
Bowman’s Root (Gillenia trifilia ‘Pink Profusion), 28 Jan
sage leaves, 9 Feb
sage leaves, 9 Feb

*

“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

River King dwarf birch, 16 Jan
River King dwarf birch, 16 Jan
Norway spruce, weeping Jade crabapple (with vervain in foreground), 9 Jan
Norway spruce, weeping Jade crabapple (with vervain in foreground), 9 Jan
evergreens, pallets, shed, 9 Jan
evergreens, pallets, shed, 9 Jan
apple tree, fence, 16 Jan
apple tree, fence, 16 Jan
ice on peach trees, 3 Feb
ice on peach trees, 3 Feb
dwarf Alberta spruce, Fine Line, honeysuckle, 16 Feb
dwarf Alberta spruce, Fine Line, honeysuckle, 16 Feb
pine boughs with fresh snow, 9 Jan
pine boughs with fresh snow, 9 Jan
pine trunk, 9 Jan
pine trunk, 9 Jan

*

Soon, all will be revealed, but for now, I’m enjoying the experience of a secret world.

M2E75L223-224R407B328

 

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