It began snowing this morning soon after I “got up for good.”
It was our first snow of the season, although promises and hints have lingered in our weather forecasts for weeks now.
When I couldn’t sleep in the wee dark early hours, there was no trace of snow yet. But it looked really cold outside. The cat didn’t mind; and he ran out, given the opportunity; not suspecting that I was going to fall back to sleep on the couch, leaving him out in the cold.
Sure enough, when next I awoke, it was brighter, but a thin mix of snow and rain had begun. Ollie was parked at the back door, huddled as close to the house as possible, trying desperately to speak loudly enough to summon me. He shot inside as soon as the door opened a crack, with all the force a very large, frosty cat can muster.
I couldn’t be sure whether the ensuing mewing was in appreciation or complaint. He eventually settled in sullen silence in his current favorite spot under the table, and pretended to ignore any further conversation about the snow.
Our first snow of the season soon filled the sky and the garden with beautiful plump snowflakes.
It only gathered here and there on leaves, branches, and porch furniture, since it wasn’t frosty enough this morning for snow to stick to the ground or street… But, it kept falling in generous curtains as I made coffee and cooked oatmeal, answered phone calls and got dressed for the day.
And in honor of our first snow, we went out to search for signs of spring.
It is only fitting. Now that we are deeply into our Virginia winter, past the holidays, and settled into a run of cold damp days and colder nights; I knew that signs of spring had to be lurking for anyone in search of them.
Snowflakes were still falling here and there, much more slowly than they had been, when we finally ventured out. The snow had already passed us according to the satellite maps on TV, but the truth of it fluttered down around us in brilliant, white puffy flakes.
I’ve been keeping a close eye out looking for Hellebores buds to poke up through the cold Earth, and watching for the first probing green fingers of green to rise out of the mud where I remember bulbs are planted.
And so I began my rounds of the garden to see what I could see.
It takes a degree of discipline to overlook the stubby chewed off foliage of a savaged Viola, root ball lying exposed on the soil, to rejoice in the bit of Daffodil leaf poking out of the ground nearby. But I was determined to find and record new beginnings today.
Today is a new beginning for our first granddaughter, born last night a little after 7 PM Pacific time. She came into the world happy, healthy, and absolutely beautiful. She has an engaging smile right from the beginning. Her face carries the contented wisdom of the very very young, and the very old. A safe and timely birth, happy parents, loving families; we are so appreciative for all the blessings that come with our newest member of the family.
And in her honor, we are convinced, the sky opened this morning and greeted us with a fresh snowfall.
As a new life begins in our family, I went in search of the beginnings of new life in the garden. And I was greeted with an unexpected richness of beauty.
Buds are swelling; bulbs are making their appearance; new leaves uncurling here and there; and even Forsythia is tentatively opening a bright yellow flower. Forsythia blooming in mid-January… imagine that! Even the moss and lichens, always winter companions, are vibrantly green and alive. They have been enjoying all the rain.
And so it begins. The first signs of spring from the depths of winter.
I tucked the root balls of Viola back into the bed, bringing moist Earth up around them. I covered the exposed Iris rhizomes, with their tiny green leaves poking out around the edges, and made a mental note to bring some garlic cloves out to guard the tiny plants for the rest of winter. So far garlic cloves are working where I’ve left them in the pots near the house, grazed by deer over the holidays.
The Violas look like they are beginning to recover, although flowers won’t appear again for another several weeks. They will be lovely again by March, when spring will be firmly settled all across the garden.
It is wise to honor and take notice of the beginnings of things. The more we watch, the more we learn. The more we know, the more we can appreciate the wonder and magic of it all.
All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014