What is it about gardeners that makes us reach for the seed catalogues and gardening journals on the first bitterly cold day of mid-winter? I think it's a way of reminding ourselves that even this icy weather will pass, and it won't be long before the stoney ground will be soft and pliable again.
Even the names of flowers make a bleak and colorless winter day seem sunny and full of promise: honeysuckle, columbine, evening primrose, morning glory, briar rose, wood violets, lily of the valley.
I stood at the verandah doors last week—it was a brisk 11 degrees—and looked out through the curtains. How grim the gardens looked! Nothing to remind me of how lush and airy and inviting it is on a summer's day or evening, merely a maze of stems and sticks poking up from a rock-hard terrain, crumpled leaves and seed pods and lumpy earth where mounds of flowers used to be. Not a breath of greenery anywhere. Everything was brown and grey, stark and still. The tree branches overhead were like bony fingers instead of the usual verdent canopy. The water in the birdbath was frozen solid and the feeders looked lonely in the cold wind.
I came back into the kitchen and counted on the calendar exactly how many more days there are until spring: 76. Then I got out my gardening journal to study the pictures from this past season's garden and set down my list of gardening projects for next season.
Hope springs eternal.