Winter is Going

Wynter wakeneth al my care,
Nou this leves waxeth bare;
Ofte I sike ant mourne sare
When hit cometh in my thoht
Of this worldes joie, hou hit goth al to noht..

This is an excerpt from a beautiful medieval poem asking for divine help to find peace in winter’s grip. link As do we all here in the South where winter loosens its hold reluctantly, teasingly. In fits and starts. The forecast for the next 10 days is of moderate temperatures after weeks of bitter weather. I look forward to 71 degrees this afternoon. This is fortunate because, in Central Texas, it’s time to put in part of the Spring garden.

I will start cleaning this week. Yesterday I said good-bye to the ‘Winter’ garden and cut the last small cauliflower and pulled the last little cabbage. I have neighbors who are harvesting beautiful carrots and asparagus. My carrots failed for some reason (I suspect the chickens) and my asparagus has been deterred by bitter cold snaps into the 20’s these past few weeks. Unpredictable old winter gardening.

little onions in cold ground

This weekend, I’ll plant onions, spinach and lettuce.  I’ll try carrots again and protect the seeds with fencing wire. I have to put my spring broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower seedlings in 6 inch pots for planting in the garden later this month. All of these winter plantings will be battered off and on for the next six weeks by freezes, cold rain and icy winds. And they should be fine — adjusting to the roller coaster of warm and cold weather in this climate far better than their human caretaker.

Of course, up North, everything is quiet. The cold protects gardeners from doing much work outdoors. The problem with year round gardening is that one doesn’t get much time off. The other problem is that there is nothing really gorgeous outdoors right now. Even on blistering summer days there will be zinnias and cannas and mistflowers in bloom; the banana trees and citrus trees will be in their glory.

Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’

Now I have only a few blooms on the honeysuckle and some pretty new leaves on the Satsuma orange trees that were beleaguered by 13 degree temperatures in January. I have to look for inspiration to do my work in my imagination.

I was ordering hay for my stock and complained that I had no pasture. The normally gentle hay lady snapped, “Nobody has any pasture now.” She is, apparently, in absolute agreement with the 12th century poet quoted above. Winter grinds. But when people ask me why I go to the trouble of putting in a garden, the answer is of course ‘hope’.

“Hope” by George Frederic Watts


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