« Crane-fly Orchid in the Woodlands | Main | The Best of the Rest, 2011 »

January on My Mind

I'm partied out and broke. January is dreary with drab, damp days and monochromatic scenery. Spindly tree limbs form tangled masses on the horizon. Sunsets are fierce with battered skies. Only an occasional day opens blue, with sharp edges.I want to garden, but cold winds blow away the joy. A good book, a warm drink, and a comfy seat near the fireplace have greater pull, and I have no desire to venture outdoors.

But after a while I must. 

Only to find tragedy. Outside the kitchen door are mockingbird feathers, scattered across the patio. I look around for the familiar mockingbird who guarded this territory, who established a nest in the weeping yaupon tree next to the patio last year. I don't see him. Mercifully, the body is gone. Was it a neighbor's cat, or possibly the Red-shouldered hawk? I would feel better if it were the hawk.A hawk searches for a meal.

This weeping yaupon holly grows outside our kitchen. Mockingbirds love the berries.Still saddened I look around for something to brighten my spirits. I don't have to look far. Below the weeping yaupon tree, the hellebores are beginning to bloom. There are several varieties growing here, and they have intermingled and self-seeded to produce nameless, illegitimate offspring. I don't care. I think they are lovely.

As I walk in the garden I find other spots of color. The winter daphne is budding and has opened one tiny flower. I grow this beautiful, sweet smelling plant in a pot to ensure good drainage. Clay soil and long rainy days would spell death to it otherwise. An ornamental cabbage, above left, also catches my interest, as does the remains of a bright seedpod on a gardenia bush. There are quite a few of these orange and yellow pods on the gardenia bush in the woodlands.

 And then I find this odd rock:

I love rocks! I love the permanence of them; I love their varied textures and patterns and colors. Here are some more rocks in my garden, each with holes and a story to tell, if I knew it.

First, a white one:

A yellow one:

And an orange one:

Now I'm on a roll, taking picture after picture of rocks, and I'm enjoying myself.
At last I turn back toward the house, again to see mockingbird feathers near the kitchen door. The fleeting life of a mockingbird; the solid rocks that will be here long years from now. But the holes remind me that even rocks are not eternal, for eventually they too are turned to dust. I sigh. January is getting to me. It's time to go inside and fix myself a cup of cappuccino with my new cappuccino machine!

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (19)

I think we're all feeling a little of the winter blues. It's been really cold here, unusually cold, and dry. I was in the garden yesterday, and my feet were numb. Not really as enjoyable as gardening on a warm spring day. Your pictures really affirm that I'm missing something not growing hellebores here. The only blooms in my garden at the moment belong to the rosemary, well, that and a pluot tree that is so confused by the weather this year it's trying to burst bud. I'm sorry about the mockingbird, but at least spring won't be much longer now...I hope!

January 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

Surely it couldn't have been the hawk - he looks so unruffled.

January 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterb-a-g

So glad you had your hellebores to lift your spirits. Life is so fleeting in nature unfortunately, but something has survived because of your mockingbird, spring will soon be here to cheer us all up.

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Mulligan

Rocks! Stones are my favorite garden element.

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNell Jean

The photos are so beautiful and refreshing. I love the close up photos of the rocks. I look forward on seeing more of your photos.

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGarden Sheds

Winter is long and dreary...so much time with ourselves. We finally have cold and snow. Nothing blooming at all except inside an amaryllis finally. And then there is my secret garden in the basement where I am growing greens to eat and herbs to enjoy. 8 weeks before it is daylight savings again..then soon after it is spring. Without my seedlings I would surely go mad in winter here.

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I love rocks too! On our terrace we have a huge pot. Whenever we find a really appealing rock, we bring it home and add it to the pot. I can just imagine the movers faces when they come pack us up for the move back to Canada, of course our rocks will be going with us!

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah at Kilbourne Grove

I struggle more and more in January - it seems to be in direct relation to my growing passion for gardening. I do find though tht a walk in the fresh air helps clear the head and looking ast the garden in the winter is good for planning and thinking about new projects

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

Interesting photos Debs! I too love rocks and other natural materials, where each and every piece is unique!

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Your rocks are so interesting. They draw me in to know more...so much mystery and history. I share your winter reflections of beauty, coldness, and interest. And sorry about the bird...I would be sad as well.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Sage Butterfly

You have a beautiful image of the hawk. As much as I love to see them, they create a blood bath in my garden each winter. One that lasts too, with the snow. You are so right about the winds blowing away joy. Here we have been have many windy days and even the creatures are staying put today with the feeders swinging in the wind.We started out with the bluest sky and as I type the wind blew in the greys of winter.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Deb, there is always something interesting and cheerful in your garden! I love your selfseeded hellebores! Not everyone can see a beauty in rocks, but you can! Wonderful textures and colors! Everything was beautiful in my garden yesterday. Today, everything is freezed, covered by heavy icy stuff. Well, it won't last long... Stay warm!

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTatyana

Your hellebores are lovely especially the one with the pink edges. But right now I am more interested in the cappuccino machine.

I, too, am in love with your hellebores. I do think that one of the special qualities of winter (besides hot drinks by the fire!) is that it gets us to look more closely at and appreciate those quieter beauties that we might not notice in more exuberant seasons. Thanks for sharing the quiet beauties of your rocks.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJean

So sorry to hear about your Mockingbird Deb. I don't get to hear them up here in the woods. I also feel your pain on these bitter days. We are getting closer to my visit with each passing day. I am now so looking forward to seeing those rocks as well! Hang in there! Better days are ahead!

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEve

I occasionally find mourning dove feathers in heaps on the ground and know neighborhood hawks are to blame. I also love rocks and would love to hear the stories they have to tell. Hang in there!

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Maripoas

Your post beautifully describes a gardener's winter angst. We've been lucky to have a lot of sunny days here this winter. I can honestly say that I hate gray cold winter days.

Ah, a cappucino machine -- I'm envious. :)

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

Great post. The photos of your hellebores are very nice. Its nice to be consoled from the winter blahs by a cup of cappuccino....

January 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Oh Deb, we have like minds this time of year. January is quite dreary, and I just hate to go outside in the cold. Ugh, I've become quite a slug! I can hardly wait for warmth to return, because then I will be more than happy to go outside and enjoy the world again. Till then, let's get that space heater on, and a cup of tea in hand. Ahhhh. Hey, will you do me a favor and make note of my new blog address? My old one was deleted due to someone else's fraud. Grrrr! http://lifeinrobinsnest.blogspot.com/

January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobinL
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.