As I write this, most of the Snow lying about has departed. The Soil is still frozen, nonetheless...I attempted to dig a small hole for an errant Tulip bulb. Even as the tips of other Bulbs are showing green, the Earth had not yet heard the message.
I am awaiting, with great longing, the soft scent coming from warm, Southerly breezes. Wind, this afternoon, has a very sharp edge...one which chased me indoors after spending a morning in the Snow-free landscape.
I injured my shoulder a few days ago, which has hampered me in many ways, typing being one of them. It is not serious, only somewhat painful. It has kept me indoors, resting it, for most of my time. But this morning, after returning from the vet's for a check-up of Lucky's ears, I could not resist the warm-ish early Sunshine, no matter an injured shoulder!
As all gardeners will do, I wandered about, raking a bit here, poking about there. I pondered the fact I now recognized favoured perennials which were showing the minutest signs of life. Last year, I had not lived here long enough.
There was no formal garden here, when we took ownership of our home. It was a completely blank slate. So many plants have been planted over the last four seasons of Spring we've lived here I have trouble remembering them all. Many only lasted a season, at any rate...until I finally grasped an understanding of which Plants could survive the harsh climate they would have to live in.
The Plants reaching for the Spring sunshine this morning have proved their worth. Many Tulips are pushing through the frozen Soil. I see signs of Forget-Me-Nots, Daffodils, Poppies, a wee Violet here and there, Pansies and Borage seedlings. Many of the old friends are still snoozing, waiting for warmer weather. Their roots are firm as yet, I notice with a bit of trepidation, during a quick check.
I make connections with Plants in the garden, as I plant them, but it has taken time with this one. I was also heavily involved in building raised beds...it became more a matter of...Yes, this Plant will look good here, and the other here, the next over there...
You know how it goes.
And so the connections I formed were tenuous, at best. But the Plants which continue to emerge every year, every season, mostly right on time, these are the ones I greet now as dear, old friends.
Usually, these favoured ones are perennials or small shrubs. We planted an Apple and a Cherry Tree. Although both are doing well, they are still young, without the wisdom of the wild, elderly Trees we are surrounded by.
I have discovered it takes time to 'know' a Tree in an entire Forest of them. I made the mistake of thinking I could just pick a nice Tree, one I was attracted to, and make friends, thereby connecting.
It didn't happen. At least not right away, as I fully expected it to do. Each Tree I approached was friendly enough, but neither of us had that energy surge which occurs, in these situations, between us.
Over time, after I had lost patience with the whole thing and had largely forgotten about it, each Winter, I would notice a big, old but curiously graceful Paper Birch which grew in the base of the Draw in front of our home.
I noticed it in the Winter for obvious reasons. Even though the Tree towers over the rest growing near it, I would not have been able to see it after the fleshing out of Leaves, from her and others...her babies...around her.
In the Winter months, however, her triangled top shows clearly...a beautiful sight with fresh Snow layering her filigreed branches. Birds have nested in the crotch of the triangle...a perfect spot! I watched a family of Robins nest there last year, although there is no longer any sign of them.
This is the Tree I have a connection with. An odd choice...one whose top seems to have split, making her appear headless, although I know she is not. She is old, she has watched over the land for a long time before I ever knew it. And she is a survivor.
But from all the hundreds of Trees here on this Land, this old Birch is the one who will tell me stories of the countryside, of the way things were. She is my inspiration, my guide and my muse, a part of my Spirit.
I am happy to see she has, once more, survived the long, gruesome Winter just passed. I look up to see one of her fingers pointing to a lone Eagle flying high overhead. We both rejoice at the sighting...Eagles are rarely seen during colder days.
I marvel at how lacy her tangled branches appear...naked and black against a clear, blue Sky, twisting and turning every which way...yet inordinately graceful. Her trunk is long, curving and white, largely without branches. She is beginning to shed long, white strips of her bark, exposing reddish-orange inner bark, which will turn black with age.
It is not surprising I am drawn to her. Birch Trees help mankind and animals in myriad ways. She is Winter food for Deer, Moose, Porcupine and Beaver. In years gone by, she has lent her Bark for baskets, cradles and canoes. Her Bark was also used for wrapping and storing food, and as roofing for pit houses. She gave medicine for colds. Her sap is fermented to make beer, wine, spirits and vinegar.
I've not had the pleasure of trying any of her products, but I did notice a bottle of Birch syrup in one of the health food stores I frequent. With the amount of Paper Birches in the Forest here, where I live, I've often thought it would be fun to tap a few, but I have no idea how to begin.
The Paper Birch is the Tree of new beginnings and new perspectives. A perfect Tree to choose for another ally!
As I prepare my Tea, I notice another dark Cloud, stronger Wind. The Leaves I've just finished raking are catching the Wind, whirling and spiralling about. Snowflakes are beginning to descend once again.
Will Winter never give up?
But then, I remember the growth my old friends in the garden are showing.
Spring will not give up, either.