Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snowfall, Beverly, and me...

It snowed again last night. This morning the puppies got me up at 6 or so to go out and we all went out together to inspect the latest addition. For some reason, all three dogs feel the need to taste the snow after each fresh coat has fallen. It would be interesting to know if they they think the snow tastes different each time. Perhaps if the snow is from a particular area? Does snow coming in from the coast taste salty? What do Canadian storms taste like?
I love certain things about snow: the silence, how ethereal everything looks after the storm, and since I don't drive in the stuff, I like the hibernating: with the dogs, hot chocolate, and Beverly Nichols.
Beverly Nichols is the greatest garden writer I have ever read. Nichols was born at the end of the 19th Century and began writing about his love affair with gardens and gardening in the 1930s. I have 9 of his gardening books plus some of his other works--but the gardening books are really the best. He writes about gardening with the passion of a lover, the clarity of a teacher, and ties everything together with humor; his books are storytelling at its best. I began reading Nichols when I first started gardening. His books sustained me through the impatient months of winter (January, February, March) when I was raring to get out in the garden and start searching for the first signs of spring.
These days I am happy for the calm that winter brings, the time to sew, research, and most of all, the time for silence. I still like to read Beverly Nichols and contemplate spring gardens. Spring is coming--I am beginning to wake up earlier and only a day or two ago I saw the sun rise around 7. But I think I will rest for a while before the real work--and the excitement that Spring always showers--begins.
"....We are now in the depths of first winter at the cottage...and the first winter I went mad.
The average gardener, in the cold dark days of December and January, sits by his fire, turning over the pages of seed catalogues, wondering what he shall sow for the spring. If he goes out in his garden at all it is only for the sake of exercise. He puts on a coat, stamps up and down the frozen paths, hardly deigns to glance at the black empty beds, turns in again. Perhaps, before returning to his fireside, he may go and look into a dark cupboard to see if the hyacinths, in fibre, are beginning to sprout. But that represents the sum total of his activity.
I wrote above that, on this first winter, I went mad. For I suddenly said to myself 'I WILL HAVE FLOWERS IN MY GARDEN IN WINTER....'"
---Beverly Nichols, Down the Garden Path

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