Drifting in the garden

Picea glauca 'Conica'We went to bed last night thankful for a warm house. The inches of snow rose as the thermometer fell throughout the day. It was hard to measure the snowfall because of intense drifting, but the thermometer gave us a chilling number. When we put our heads on our pillows, it was 45 degrees colder than when we woke that morning.

The wind’s steady howls were punctuated by violent puffs that roared across our roof. Light, icy snow scattered in all directions with each gust. Eddies and dunes formed at the wind’s whimsy, creating a new edgeless topography in the neighborhood.

The sun rose through the icy air of a -15F degree morning, creating a giant sundog in the eastern sky. I didn’t see it first hand, but am enjoying one in the western sky as I write this post.

The photographer in me ignored the warnings of severe wind chills to grab a few shots of the garden.

The piles of our shoveled snow along the driveway were sculpted into what appears to be a replica of the Rocky Mountain front range.

Driveway border
The snow was light and icy, so it’s stick factor was low. The flakes in the crotches of our redbud were driven there at the wind’s direction.
Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud)

A hydrangea hovered over the surface of the snow. Sometimes called a snowball hydrangea, the dried inflorescence has collected enough of the blowing snow to live up to its name.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
I’ll often use the Rhododendron in the south garden as a ballpark thermometer. When its evergreen leaves roll into tubes, I know it’s likely unpleasantly frigid outside. Still, the flower buds weather the freeze, patiently waiting until spring.
Rhododendron catawbeinse 'Nova Zembla'
Before the storm hit, I propped the garden gates open so I’d be able to get by them. In previous storms, the drifts have been so high that the gates can’t be opened. The only way through is over, and my hips aren’t exactly up to those acrobatics any more. The long cast shadows were an added benefit to my concession to middle age.
South garden gate in snow
The tall sedum in the front garden looked like a gaggle of beachgoers buried up to their necks.
Hylotelephium (Tall Sedum)
Hylotelephium (Tall Sedum)
Nearby, scant evidence of a juniper poked through the snow.
Juniperus virginiana 'Greguard'
I’m always interested to see how Zefr (my Zen Frog) is doing. His ever stoic countenance is an element of balance in my garden, even as his enameled skin peels away with each winter. Normally a silent messenger, Zefr now appeared to be opening his mouth to speak his wisdom.
Zefr (Zen Frog) and Carex morrowii 'Ice Dance'
I paused next to Zefr to listen closely, for the snow screamed with each step.
I whispered, “Any answers for me today, buddy?”
No sound. Nothing but the cold, now painful wind in my face.
I took that as a sign to go back inside, accepting that some days aren’t made of answers. Some days are just made to persevere and make sure your face doesn’t fall off.

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Christopher Tidrick

Be real. Love always. Share beauty. Lead well. Learn more.

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