in a complete reversal of habit (whether this is a good habit or a bad habit i will not comment,) i spent yesterday ‘off the grid’ as it were (just tiny little bits of time online at the beginning of the day & at the end.) instead i turned my attention to the garden, specifically the 28 rose plants. it is the weekend for pruning, mulching, feeding them. now if i lived above “x” latitude, i would have done this sometime in late september or early october, but i don’t. & about this time each year (early january) i grab a bag of steer manure, a bag of mulch, the pruning shears & some little granules of ‘medicine’ (a cap full per plant) & head outside & minister to the roses.
this entails much bending, toting, kneeling, clipping, swearing (when one’s clothes get caught on the thorns) & results in sore legs, lower back muscles in revolt, multiple scratches on one’s hands & forearms. but in a couple of months the rewards of one’s labor will be apparent as the roses explode into a riot of blossoms. obviously completely worth the agony & the forced break from following, <3ing, re-tweeting, FBing, blogging & any other digital diversion that the 21st century has foisted upon us–such seductive drugs–i take this time to talk to them, offering encouraging words, life-coaching as it were, “won’t you be the belle of the ball when spring comes & your display bursts from your thorny arms & legs, a gown of scent & saturated color?” now, i don’t often say these words out loud, it is more of a psychic inference, little waves of thought (please visualize), rays of love & understanding.
for many years when i lived ‘up north’, i regarded the winter season (specifically january – march) as ‘my’ season. it was the time of year i felt i was at my peak intellectually, physically, emotionally, creatively. i was quicker, handsomer, steadier, wittier (just sharper overall.) there is the drama of the winter season that i think appeals to me on those levels as well. one enters from out-of-doors in a burst of frigid air, snow flurries a cape behind you, your cheeks flushed & then you start the unwrapping process (winter clothes are the best); hat, gloves, scarves, parka or dress coat or fur, all that padding a seed pod peeled back to reveal the flower underneath. who is not charmed by that?
i liked the way all people delicately make their way across a frozen urban landscape (the rural winter’s are another matter altogether.) manly men tip-toeing their way across an icy sidewalk (think fernando botero’s over-inflated senors & senoras) hats held with one hand all the while using their other arm, held out so delicately, a funambulist’s balance pole , or those who are bundled up to such an extent that their movements are circumscribed (michelin men) but somehow manage to ballet their way down the street. that first tentative step off the curb (slush, no slush, that is the question), the rush of wind winding a wool scarf tight around a neck, that breathlessness of an arctic blast all enervated me, so different from the lethargy of summer, it made me feel so alive.
i wonder now, after all these years in more temperate climes (after the ‘new’ has worn off) if winter brings me to that same rush of good feeling. already this year it has been much colder than previous years & it has reminded me of those days/months/years with their winter-y ice storms & feet of snow & crunching my way to the ‘el’ in boots, long satin-lined winter coat swinging frictionless against my wool clad legs. but now, it seems more a burden than a joy, to pile on the wool hat, the winter coat, the scarf (no gloves, yet) just to walk the dogs, empty the garbage, get to the car. i hate to think i’m spoiled. i hate to think that i’ve lost that joy. i hate to think that i’ve been pruned too severely to ever bloom again.