Massive snow melt and rising rivers have come with the big thaw, now that our deep snowfall has turned liquid. Watching our local river rise 5 feet, it made me think about how snow locks up water the way trees lock up carbon dioxide. Gardening hard, as I’ve done the last few seasons, has done this to me — make me watch every aspect of the changing seasons and think about what it might mean for my garden. My poor, pummelled garden, now free of that heavy snow but looking squashed, like a flower flattened between the pages of an encyclopedia.
Which is why I felt my mouth fall open today when I saw a single snowdrop — Galanthus elwesii — white and perfect and definitely alive. I took a walk around and checked on the other signs of life which have been thrilling me out of all proportion to their size. A tuft of striped crocus leaves, 2 inches high? A few battered narcissus leaves breaking through the soil? I’ll take it — it’s January, and my standards and expectations for the garden are at their lowest.
The desk where I write gets sun for two hours in summer, and much less in winter when the sun can’t be bothered to rise very high. This time last year I wrote this poem during one of the sun’s rare appearances at my desk. Do you ever get poetic about your garden? If so, I’d love to hear some.
The winter sun doesn’t mean it;
it cracks an eye over sodden ground –
the damp remains of brightest days,
the ceaseless hunt of birds,
the lilacs’ empty grasp –
and is unmoved.
It cannot be enough.
But braver things are in the earth
and they rise, swords first,
to take back the day
and call forth the legions
that come after.