Appreciating the Earth: Tuesday Snapshots

November 22 2013 garden 022

Freshly fallen leaves rest on the Hellebores, which very soon will send up new blooms.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to “putting my hands into the Earth” to grow things.  In fact, I have vivid pre-school aged memories of planting little glass jars with dirt and grass seed “borrowed” from a bag in my dad’s workshop, just to watch it grow.  All along I’ve been happy to grow things, whether in my parents’ flower beds, in my own, or simply in jars and pots.  Some might not feel as happy as I do surrounded by growing things, but I find it peaceful to tend them and watch their growth.

Violas and Sage growing happily in the stump garden earlier this week.

Violas and Sage growing happily in the stump garden earlier this week.

At the moment, I’m doing a lot of picking up leaves and petals from the living room floor as my potted plants adjust to life indoors with dry central heat.  But, as my partner put it last night, they are surely all happy that they “won the indoors lottery” and have the opportunity to survive the winter.  The few things left outside are not as fortunate.  A few nights now in the 20s, and the remaining annuals and tender perennials have gone the way of the ginger lilies.  I am hoping the roots of some, like the Mexican Petunias and a tender milkweed survive in sheltered places, but the tops surely have not.

Camellia, "Jingle Bells" on Friday afternoon.  Frost got the flowers, but new buds will open when the weather warms.

Camellia, “Jingle Bells” on Friday afternoon. Frost got the flowers, but new buds will open when the weather warms.

The area around my kitchen sink is filled with bottles and jars of rooting cuttings.  I’ve filled the window sills, the garage, and every other available space with plants.  Once we settle into a rhythm of watering, and they adjust to the available light and air, we’ll happily share the warm house until spring settles in.

Some of the orchids look as though they’re ready to send out new blooms.  The Begonias are opening new leaves, and the Cyclamen have fresh buds.  This was the first summer I’ve managed to keep two Cyclamen growing without a period of dormancy.  A third did die back, with a little help, perhaps; and I’m hoping for signs of new growth.

A last few figs cling to the branches, even with the fig leaves gone.

A last few figs cling to the branches, even with the fig leaves gone.

It is a decidedly wintry day outside today.  We have grey skies and rain here in Williamsburg, and the reports of ice and snow are still to our west.  It was supposed to warm up today, but never made it out of the 40s.  The strange alchemy and timing of precipitation and temperature will determine whether we have ice and snow here before Friday.

We are prepared for a colder than expected winter, and hope others are prepared for that, also.  Remember that much of our weather is created in far distant places.  We are in a period of unusually active volcanoes.  On Saturday alone seven volcanoes in six different countries erupted.  This week we’ve seen eruptions in Italy, Japan, Guatamala, Indonesia, Mexico, and Vanuatu.  Over the past month or so there have also been eruptions in Kamchatka and Alaska. Seismic activity is high all over the planet, and bears watching.  Even our own volcanoes from Mt. Shasta north to Mt. Hood and Mt. Baker are having more quakes and tremors than they usually do.  Our planet is alive, and it is active.

Winter has definitely settled in here in Williamsburg.

Winter has definitely settled in here in Williamsburg.

All of that gas and ash in the atmosphere affects how much sunlight gets through,  and ultimately affects the weather.  It has a cooling effect on the planet, and can also affect patterns of precipitation.   We don’t often have night time lows in the 20s this early, but we have this year.  And so all of the plants left out of doors will have to tough it out from here on.  I’ve pulled the marginal ones up close to the house where they will get the benefit of reflected heat.  Believe it or not, some petunias made it through all of last winter, and are still blooming today.

This poem feels appropriate today, as we approach Thanksgiving and reflect on our many blessings:

There is a road in the hearts of all of us, hidden and seldom traveled,
which leads to an unkown, secret place.
The old people came literally to love the soil,
and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of
being close to a mothering power.
Their teepees were built upon the earth
and their altars were made of earth.
The soul was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing.
That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of
propping himself up and away from its life giving forces.
For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply
and to feel more keenly. He can see more clearly into the mysteries of
life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him.

Chief Luther Standing Bear

The ground in our garden, near the ravine, on Friday.

The ground in our garden, near the ravine, on Friday.

Those of us drawn to tending gardens understand this feeling of needing to be close to the Earth and soil.  During the fall and winter we might not walk out barefoot or do much sitting on the ground, but we can still touch the Earth inside as we tend our indoor gardens.  Cooking, bringing family together, chopping wood, taking walks; all of these things can bring us the feelings Chief Luther Standing Bear describes.

And so here are this week’s Tuesday Snapshots. These are a few photos taken during the week but not used in other posts.

I hope you will enjoy them.

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

3 responses to “Appreciating the Earth: Tuesday Snapshots

  1. I love this post .. thank you for sharing your garden.

  2. Beautiful images and beautiful words, WG. I really enjoyed the poem. Although I’m not much of a gardener (I didn’t inherit my mother’s green thumb, unfortunately), I do feel a need to be close to the earth in the form of walking (and even do it barefoot when I can).

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