Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First Snow



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Returned home late yesterday, but fully aware that a big storm was coming. It was billed as a possible nor'easter and I knew that this time of year that could mean about anything. One forecaster had the Adirondacks of New York lined up with 12-14 inches of snow and high winds so I decided I'd try one last time to grab a few pictures and enjoy the fall scene.

The list of things to clean up in the gardens before serious snow arrives is quite long and this apparently is not the year to challenge Mother Nature. That reminder was confirmed when Vermont Public Radio mentioned a major storm of over a foot of snow on the same day in 1952. Although quite young, I remember that year well because that was when we were fairly new to Vermont and depended on a vegetable garden for food. Let me leave it that there was just not a lot to go around. Unlike the melting snow, those memories have never left me.





I changed quickly and got Karl the Wonder Dog and the camera and away we went with Karl's nose pointed out the truck window, sniffing and snorting fall smells of interest. We arrived down at Ethan Allen Corners and the view I wanted was perfect, although the rain didn't help the photographer much. The tamaracks are a beautiful yellow right now and they contrast against the rusty browns and yellows of the swamp grass. This valley opens with wildlife this time of year as large game cross back and forth and waterfowl follow the small stream southwest to where it meets the Winooski River. This is an area that makes you want to stop and stare and enjoy.

We turned around and headed back home as I wanted to walk the shade garden again. That garden has been a part of me since I began to build it years ago. It presents a tranquility, a peacefulness that I thrive on. I miss it when I can't find the time to enjoy it.

We made it to the garden bench and I spread out my jacket and sat down. Karl chased a chipmunk that was missing an inch of his tail. Rain fell, but the smell of the leaves on the air was refreshing just the same. In front of me were dozens of hostas, topless and well trimmed. Deer on fall maneuvers had diligently eaten each leaf, flower scape and seed pod, leaving only spiky looking affairs that could have served as models to Dale Chihuly's beautiful glass art. Oh those deer...what an unusual relationship I have with them!

I couldn't sit as long as I wanted. Karl was impatient and I wanted to walk a little more. The power of the granite foundation blocks looked stronger than ever, their color enhanced by the rain. The Christmas Ferns were beautiful and the adjacent groupings of European Ginger contrasted so well with the fallen maple leaves.


As Karl and I walked up out of the sunken garden, the Japanese primroses and the various hellebores were obvious. The wet summer days had set the year's seed crop well and gave last year's new plants a good jump start. Next spring Gail will have a good selection to dig and pot for sales.

We reached the yard and I noticed a crab apple tree shaking with a flock of robins devouring the seeded fruits.For some reason a line from an old Johnny Cash song came back to me, not the song's name, not the whole line, just a piece, hopefully correct, kind of appropriate to the view.

"Did you ever see a robin weep, when leaves begin to die?"

We grabbed the mail out of the box, waved to a passing neighbor and headed for the house. Our brief mission was complete.



Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where geese are resting for the night, hopeful for clear skies tomorrow.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Gardens
Vermont Flower Farm


4 comments:

joey said...

My heart was near you with this beautiful post, George. I saw my first snowflake yesterday, taking my grandboys to the cider mill. So many chores left to do as winter knocks on the door. "Did you ever see a robin weep, when leaves begin to die?", touched my soul. A ROBIN'S WINTER is the name of my brother's book that we published after his sudden death. With heartfelt thoughts ...

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

Oh George wonderful photos and nice words, the autumn really has a great palette. / LOL Tyra

George Africa said...

Hello Joey;
I looked up your brother's book and read a page or so on Amazon. It was about affectionate but sisterly "sharing" at an early age (yours). Nice.

Today was cold and rainy off and on and the robins continued to harvest the crab apples while other birds kept checking the feeders which remain empty until Thanksgiving when the bears go to sleep--I hope.

George

George Africa said...

"First Snow" is an uncertain event depending on where you live. Same holds true with autumn foliage. I notice that the Brooklyn Botanical Garden has a foliage photo contest going right now but it started in mid October when our foliage is on its last leg.

I wrote to BBG and said I'd like to compete but it would have to be more of a twig competition because save for tamaracks and birches, our foliage is gone.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Gardens
Vermont Flower Farm