Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Brighten the Corner Where You Are

Thought for the day:  I prefer fall and winter, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape--- the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn't show. [Andrew Wyeth]

While I do appreciate the imagery of Wyeth's words, I don't think winter will ever be my favorite time of year. Yeah, sure, the landscape's bone structure does possess a certain stark beauty, I suppose. I'll give him that. Then again, some people probably consider a skeleton to be a thing of beauty, too. As for me?  I've always preferred a bit of meat on my bones.

When I look at the barren trees, stripped naked, and stretching their lonely branches against a leaden sky, I long to see them covered with leaves again. I miss the bazillion birds who flitted on every branch of every tree in our yard last summer, and I miss their cacophonous symphonies.

Yup, I guess I'm more inclined to second Robert Byrne's sentiments, who so eloquently opined, Winter is nature's way of saying, "Up yours."

There used to be a columnist for the Atlanta newspaper who called the first two months of the year Janu-weary and Febru-ugly, and that was a pretty darned good description of how most of us around here feel about winter. Our area is ultra rich in trees and greenery most of the year, but right about now, almost everything is brown. Or gray. How it makes me miss COLOR! You know? The kind of color that makes the heart sing.

A walk in the woods is so much different this time of year than it was six months ago, isn't it? The tangle of growth that impeded your progress then is just an impotent hollow mesh of dead branches now, and no deterrent at all. Now, a layer of dead leaves crunches softly underfoot, and with each step, the faint scent of rot awakens and rises from the ground ... whispering a promise of growth yet to come. There's a different sound in the woods, and a different feeling.  A sense of isolation. Invigoration.

Then there's the runny nose, too, and maybe rosy cheeks. I do love those rosy cheeks ...

Okay, so I'll admit it. It ain't all bad.

Especially here. We haven't had any real cold weather yet. And usually don't see much of it, anyway. We've had a couple early morning frosts, but the temperatures are still climbing into the sixties most days. The poor misguided forsythia bushes are peppered with blossoms, but that isn't unusual. Forsythia always seems to be confused about when it should and shouldn't bloom.

                                     But I saw something a couple weeks ago that astounded me.


On January 10, I spotted a single daffodil blooming in our back yard. A daffodil! In January! What a glorious, glorious ... and unexpected ... sight. Others are also pushing through the soil, and I expect this first brave warrior (the point man) will be joined by the rest of his forces within the next couple of days. This is much too soon for him to show up, but there he was. This one defiant daffodil, providing a single splash of sunshine in the otherwise drab landscape of our back yard.

A beacon of hope. 

Of joy.

Oh, crap. Might as well face it. (sigh) Of delusion. (Poor thing.)

Every winter,
When the great sun has turned his face away,
And earth goes down into a vale of grief,
And fasts, and weeps, and shrouds herself in sables,
Leaving her wedding-garland to decay--
Then leaps in spring to his returning kisses.
[Charles Kingsley]

We have a lot of winter left to go, but spring's already graced me with an early kiss on the cheek. It may not be spring yet, but a single yellow daffodil ... standing tall ... blooming defiantly in the midst of winter ... reminds my heart that spring will always return. Know what? If that little guy could sing, I'll betcha his song would be Brighten the Corner Where You Are.

The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all. [Walt Disney Productions]

          Even in the midst of winter, there is still plenty of beauty... and hope ... to be found.

                               Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. My daffs are in bud... but it always takes them a very long time to burst into flower.

  2. I prefer fall and winter, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape--- the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.

    I prefer fall and winter because it means less yardwork.

  3. I think your lovely yellow daffodil is a sign of good things to come. I also miss the bright colors in winter, but I still appreciate the sight of fresh white snow. This is beautifully written! Julie

  4. I love the winter for two reasons - snow! and it is the "slow" season for my husband. Same pay, but he works a whole lot less hours. YAY.

    I especially like the snow for it's beauty and because the kids and hubs get to stay home with me. [They close everything!]

    So far tho' we haven't had an inch. I need me a good snowmaggedon like we had the last two years. heehee

    I love your daffodil.

  5. I love your quotes -- all of them! But this one by Wyeth gives me the most food for thought: "Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn't show."

    Driving home from the mountains on Sunday, I noticed that the bare trees, kissed by snow, seemed to show off the natural folds of the mountains in a way I'd never noticed before. I wished I had a decent camera to capture it!

  6. You've captured the character of our region, which is lively enough elsewhen but moribund now. Also the promise under winter --bulbs waking from fall-- like those parts of "Zhivago" where they crank up the balalaika. Great post, brava!

  7. A splash of yellow does make for a certain brightness in winter. Pretty pic!

  8. We are months away from daffodils but yours gives me hope.

  9. What a beautiful site...proud yellow daffodil! That was happening here too. They were saying it is a bummer because it is going to get cold again and hurt the plants that have been tricked by the warm weather. :-( BUT...the good thing about always reinvents itself and finds its way back!

  10. My bulbs are peeking out of the ground and I also saw a forsythia with some blooms. It has been a crazy, warm winter and I am not minding it a bit. I sometimes get the winter blues, but this year has been mild with little snow so there is no need to hibernate.

    I do think that without the grey of winter, we wouldn't rejoice so much at the beginnings of spring.

  11. I love the Wyeth quote...but Janu-weary too! I'm so there. I just looked out to the garden and though I saw things pushing from the earth, which is UNHEARD of here. I'm grateful for this mild (so far) winter!

  12. We're having one of the snowiest and coldest winters in a long time. We'd been spoiled on warmer than usual winters the past several years and now I think we're back to normal. Yet even here in Colorado I've been seeing flocks of robins in January. No daffodils yet, but by next month we'll see them poking up.

  13. My daffs are in bud too, though none have opened yet. This may be the first year that the daffodils have bloomed before the hellebores.

    But I have to know. Did you cut the daffodil and bring it inside as the first token of spring? Or did you leave outside--soldiering against the forces of nature?

  14. That was some writing, Susan. Beautiful and captivating. My blog friends are making this winter far more bearable than usual, I have to say.

  15. Beautiful post, Susan. I love the winter, and all the things you've tslked about are the reasons why.

  16. What a great "Janu-weary" (love that!) to get from Mother Nature. Our crocuses are starting to peek out, but they haven't bloomed yet.

  17. Winter is never easy. I like to think of it as a time of rest: warm fires, quieter days, and hot chocolate.

  18. I think I'd like winter better if I didn't have to go out in it. It's just too bloody cold.

  19. Wow! I'm so excited! I come home from running some errands, and find eighteen wonderful comments here. You guys rock!!! Thank you so much.

    Cro- The other daffodils are tall, but so far, only that one has bloomed. The hyacinths are up a couple inches, too.

    Beach Bum- Well, at least no lawn to mow. (Although some of our weeds could stand some whacking.) But we have a few sweet gum trees, and the darned gum balls pretty much need to be raked year-round. Especially this year.

    Julie- Yeah, I think it's a good omen, too. Thanks.

    Skippy- Well, then, I'll send all my snow-making wishes your way.

    Dianne- Maybe you should start sticking your camera in the car whenever you go out. I keep meaning to do that, but then I forget, and sure as shooting, the perfect image always presents itself when I don't have a camera with me. Meanie Murphy's law, I reckon.

    Geo- "Moribund" is the perfect word to describe our landscape this time of year. And look at you! I just saw the word "balalaika" on a game show yesterday. As best I remember, that's the first time I'd ever heard the word before, and here you are using it today. Cool! (You smarty!)

    Queen Bee- Yes, yellow sure does brighten things a bit. Now I need some cardinals to come around to fire it up a little more.

    Delores- Super. Ya gotta have hope.

    Tracy Jo- You're right, and what a lovely way to put it: "It always finds its way back." Beautiful.

    Arleen- Yeah, not much reason to hibernate here this year, either. (I just do it 'cause I WANT to!) And of course, you're right. We've got to experience winter to appreciate the spring, and we've gotta experience the bad and sad to appreciate the good and happy.

    Liza- Yeah, I think most of us get pretty Janu-weary about this time of year. But hang in there. With this unusual weather, you may be seeing those plants poking through the soil there in no time.

    L.G.- I reckon you're paying the price there so the rest of us can have a mild winter. I hope you LIKE snow! (Um, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, maybe you could send a little to Skippy in Virginia?)

    Connie- Funny you should ask. I considered cutting that daffodil and bringing it inside, but decided against it. And you know what? It's still standing tall! (Tough little soldier!)

    Carrie- Thank you, ma'am. That's a very sweet thing for you to say.

    Austan- And thank you, too. Geez, you're gonna give me a fat head. Then again, that might not be a bad thing. Might make my belly look smaller.

    Linda- When we lived in MD, I was always on the look-out for the first crocus. Even if there was a little bit of snow on the ground, the crocuses seemed to bloom right on schedule every year. And then I knew spring was fast approaching.

    Tina- And good books! And of course, for you, a stack of good movies, too.

    Marcy- Sorry. I'm afraid when winters stop being bloody cold in your neck of the woods, it'll be way too late to get a handle on global warming! Guess you'll just have to stock up on hot chocolate.

  20. Great quotes! And I couldn't agree more with your comments about winter - the first bit of snow is nice, then, it's like, will this mess ever end?

    Thanks for stopping by. I tried to leave a comment earlier but Blogger wouldn't let me.)

  21. Kittie- Yeah, it's kinda like winter's a nice place to visit, but I don't wanta live there. I'm glad Blogger is playing well with you now. Thanks for hanging in there so you could comment. I really appreciate it.

  22. No winter down here yet either. I like at least one hard freeze each year to kill back the bugs. I don't think we're going to get it this year.

  23. It smelled like spring here today, so I'm sure something's going to get frozen back. I rather like winter. NO yardwork. Long days, writing, reading, and eating comfort food.
    (A little too much of the comfort food)

  24. I don't know you use some pretty poetic language to describe winter, I guess you can't hate it that much.

    I have to add our experience of winter is very different to yours. The vast majority of Oz trees are evergreen. So it just gets colder but doesn't look much different.

  25. Mr. C- Yeah, I'd like to see some serious bug-killing happen, too. I think it takes at least three consecutive days of hard freeze to do that, though, and it sure hasn't happened so far. Then again, the worst ice storm we've seen since we moved to Georgia took place in February, so ya never know.

    Barb- It doesn't smell like spring here, yet. As much as I adore the colors of spring, I'm in no hurry for the smells. (and pollen) No kidding. We get so much pollen here, you can pretty much move it with a snow shovel.

    Al- No, I don't really hate any of the seasons. We have a evergreens, too, but a lot more hardwoods, at least in this part of Georgia. Farther south, there are a bazillion pine forests. But I like the hardwoods. I miss their leaves after they've fallen, but seeing the color show they put on before they fall is well worth it.

  26. I like autumn when hot, hot Florida starts to cool off just a bit. Winter doesn't mean much here.

    Janie Junebug

  27. Janie- I've heard "rumors" that Florida occasionally experiences a cold snap, but regardless of what time of year we've visited, we sure haven't seen one! Although we did run into weather in St. Pete one year that was cool and breezy enough for me to wear long pants and a jacket. But we saw a bunch of Canadians sunbathing, and splashing around in the water. By their standards, I guess it was downright warm.

    Take care.