Yellow Snow And Ageless Wonders

December 16, 2010

Dirty snow, a dun-colored sky and no sunshine. Not exactly a cheerful day in the garden, but I get out there this morning nonetheless, offering up hope and good energy to the weather gods for a solid snowfall today.

The snow by our backdoor is stained yellow in more places than I can count. Griffey and Lucky are not making wide forays into the yard, and so a 10 foot swath is really gross with doggie byproducts. I won’t show a photograph of that. I can’t lift or push a shovel yet, so Dominic will have to take care of this.

Into the garden goes withering flowers from an arrangement Tony bought me a week or so – mums, lilies and daisies all brightening up the kitchen with a flash of sunshine and perfume. They’ll compost throughout the winter, right in the bed, but for now they lay on top of the ice like roses on a coffin. An apt analogy for the “dead” of winter, no?

The pond is rough, a miniature of a windswept, ruffled lake frozen in a moment. Isn’t that cool? Amazing? As the wind blew the water around, the cold was intense enough to catch it in motion and hold it still. Nature just blows me away.

I find a large hole tunneled next to the house, behind the hostas and on the side of the rain barrel. Interesting… I did not see this in the summer, but the monster hostas covered it up. I’m not seeing tracks going to this den, so perhaps this is a summer home. Under the hostas, fortified by a brick wall – what a smart place for someone or something to live. Unfortunately for them, now that I’ve found this, I am filling it with compost and shredded paper. Those hostas should be even bigger next year.

The patio is covered in footprints, both mine and the dogs, carved in the ice. The snow is saggy around tracks, soggy around the mounding of plants. Beauty is difficult to find right now. The sky is heavy with snow, grey and flat and solid. Absolutely not a glimmer of sun – depressing overall.

Now this is interesting. The boxwood is no longer a leaf green, but a deep forest green. The accidental Christmas tree is the same, deeper, more saturated, darker than it was before. The aloe plant is too. Is it the contrast of the snow, or is it their own chlorophyll changing? Seeing as the snow is grey and dirty, I’m thinking it’s their own coloring, shutting down for the winter in this below-freezing weather.

I need to refill the thistle seed feeder.

This is interesting too. There are Damn Rabbit droppings and Damn Rabbit pee darkly rust colored against the blanket. Now that the snow clearly shows the proliferation of Damn Rabbits and their coupe of the garden, it also shows me they follow the paths I’ve created for myself – bricks, tiles and mulch. That is funny, I think. They are not wanted, yet they are polite guests, mostly keeping to the boundaries and walkways I’ve laid out, hoping to gain favor and thereby an invitation to brunch. They will not get it.

Along the side of the house, I notice we’ve already made a severe dent in our firewood. I also notice a cacophony of tracks walking on the sidewalk. There are Damn Rabbits, there are those mysterious mice/bird tracks, there are tracks of what is definitely a bird, reminiscent of its prehistoric ancestors. And there is a track of what is most assuredly and chillingly some kind of canine. This is not made by either of my canines. These are made by long skinny legs, walking all in a row (Lucky dances in chaos, Griffey is sorely bowlegged), neatly and cleanly. This, I am nearly sure, is a coyote.

In the front, the lights in the lawn have melted caves in the snow, just big enough for a family of fairies – or mice, if you’re more literal-minded. The cave curves like a bowl with a lace-edged skylight. It is protected from wind, scooped into the drift. From 5 pm to 2 am, the bulb lights and warms this little lair in shades of green or blue, red or orange. For the discriminating mouse, the range of color choices is, I’m sure, a big selling point.

Steam blows into the air from our furnace outtake. Icicles hang on the gutters feeding into the rainbarrels and onto the rainbarrels themselves.

The side of the house is a time warp demonstration of the power of erosion. There is a big drift and then nothing – an almost harsh line that clearly demonstrations just where the wind whistles through our yard. The grass is then a mass of swirls, of sculptures, of shapes. It reminds me of natural formations all around this country – in deserts, in canyons, in glaciers. This little wind and snow and ice and rain in this little yard quickly accomplished with temporary materials what those exact same forces accomplished in stone over eons in many places around the world. What’s really mind-blowing is thinking of this in terms of one giant timeframe. These formations in my backyard will last for a few weeks, maybe just days, a blink in time. The formations carved from rock will present for eons, impressing us with their millions-of-year-old beauty. But they haven’t always been there and they won’t be there forever. In the ageless, timeless, vast and incomprehensible span of everlasting time, they too last just a blink, a nounce, a fraction of a moment.

Wow – I have to go take a deep breath about that.

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