Seasons and Their Moods

The Quiet Season

You may think of winter as the busy season or the celebratory season and it is, but, I find winter to also be the quiet season.  Glorious fall makes way for the quiet of winter.  The trees have lost most of their leaves or have been laid bare.  A few trees still have the subtle golds and tans of late fall, especially on the beech trees and some russets on other trees.  The grasses in their golden finery shimmer in the breeze and the rest of the surrounding landscape is pared down to just the essentials. Everyone needs some quiet solitude and rest, even the flowers.

The color of the sky is also quiet.  A steel blue gray with touches of light lavender and occasionally patches of bright blue. The sky morphs into a mysterious silver color with warm and cool tones all at once and when the sun goes down the colors are deeper versions of blues and silvers with mauves mixed in.  Winter does bring some surprises such as all the berries that burst out as a cheery reminder for the songbirds to stick around a little while longer. The punctuations of these rich jewel tones against a snowy backdrop is lovely to happen upon, an energizing surprise to come across. The Red Twig Dogwood  bursts forth in the dead of winter probably to remind us nothing is one dimensional even in this season.  Winter is not colorless, it just seems to whisper instead of shout.  Winter also sings.  Listen as the wind whips up high notes and whispers low ones as it makes it’s way through the bare branches. It’s as if the winter wind finally has the last word.

I love  the varied brown tones that emerge after a plant’s greenery has died back.  Brown is not dull, it’s rich –  from a cafe au lait to pecan, or maple syrup to mahogany; these colors warm up a stark landscape. Go out for a walk and grab your camera, you would be surprised at what you can find in a winter landscape

Winter is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes I like to bundle up after a snow storm has settled and walk in the purity of the snow.  It’s only me, the snow and the sky.   It doesn’t get more pared down than this.  I like things simple. It clarifies things for me.

When I was in art school, the dead of winter would be my most creative time.  That was usually after the Christmas rush when there was really no expectations from anybody and nothing to do other than catch up on projects or dream about new ones.  The subtleness of winter lends itself to deeper explorations and thoughts.  I don’t get sad in the winter, I become very contented and open to new  ideas.  Here’s to winter and all it’s subtle beauties.


Gorgeous Gourds

Gourds are the oddities of the natural world.  They are actually a fruit in the cucurbitaceae family and part of the bigoniceae family which includes the Calabash Tree.  These fruits come into their own in the fall.  Their outrageous looks are unmistakeable at roadside stands.  Some of them are downright homely looking.  But they never fail to make me smile. Warty and wondrous, while some others are quite smooth and curvy, I often ponder on what mother nature was thinking when she created such fruits as these!  If they were people, they would be the independent child in the family who dances to her own unique song.  With speckles, stripes and blots of color, they are an artist’s dream  All swirvey lines and contours, running your hands over these alien looking fruits is sometimes like driving over an old rutted dirt road.

Open one, (I found a mormordica charantia the other day at a local arboretum) and they are a wonder of order and design.  This one was packed with rows of beautiful red, plump large raisin size seeds but without all the wrinkles.  The red color of the seeds was the color of birman rubies, a beautiful bright clear red.  The gourds had opened up on their own and I felt like I had discovered a secret treasure, and had entered a forbidden land.  They do come from exotic corners of the earth, but they can be grown just about anywhere that is sunny and dry. If you let them grow on the ground, their “necks” will curve and curl around, if hung from some type of support high above the ground you will get a gourd with an elongated neck.  Lovely to look at and quite practical, they are the unsung heroes of the fall garden.  Don’t forget the ugly-gorgeous gourds to welcome the fall/winter garden and your sense of wonder!