This morning I stepped out of the house into an frozen slushie fairytale. It snowed all night, and right after dawn the luminous contours of the icy branches glowed with their own light, casting haloes on the underbelly of the stormy sky.
As pretty as it looks in this picture, the heavy cover of wet snow did a number on the trees, the garden was strewn with broken twigs this morning.
It is so quiet when it snows, especially with these oversized snowflakes, plump and heavy like goose down. There were no sounds around me, no birds, no squirrels, no cars, no dogs, no people, no rustling of trees, not even my own footsteps, just the crack and the thud of another fallen tree branch every now and then and the slow sifting of wet feathers falling from the sky.
I looked at the familiar landscape and almost didn't recognize it, adorned as it was with its untainted veil of snow, a veil so heavy that it weighed down the branches all the way to the ground, making the trees look as if they were taking a bow.
It took a few more minutes for the sky to settle into its nondescript wintry color, a grayish milky white with no hint of blue, and then the entire landscape followed its lead and turned black and white.
I stood for a while, and stared in awe at the strange transformation of the world around me, until my hands started hurting from the frost bite and a deep shiver chilled me to the bone, and then I figured it would look just as splendid through a window, and I stood better odds of not catching pneumonia.
Heavy snow and ice brought down the last leaves left hanging on the branches, together with a host of brittle twigs. Despite the annoyance factor of having snow in the middle of November and the glut of sticks and debris that will need to be picked up later, I can't help but wonder at the beauty of the winter landscape, whose soft contours look almost unreal.
From somewhere in the bushes a bird sang all day long with an enthusiasm worthy of a bright summer morning. I must remember to bring out the bird feeder, the little critters can use all the calories they can get to keep warm.
Along the garden path the perennials gracefully retired for a good winter's sleep, all but the long suffering hellebores, with their ever green leathery leaves. Lenten roses don't like it one bit when you disturb their roots, and I didn't know that when I decided to divide them. They took a little pause to ponder on what just happened, sulked for a while and eventually decided to go on, quickly doubling in size and filling all the space.
The mature plants set plentiful seed last spring and showered the earth with descendents, gathered around them like chicks around a mother hen. I dug out the seedlings and used them to populate less than desirable shady spots and the newborn plants quickly took over their new locations, eager to prove their vitality. It didn't occur to me to check if hellebores come true from seed, my guess would be 'no', so we'll see, when they start to bloom, what latent genetic traits they decided to embrace.
Walking through the winter garden made me realize that without thinking I planted a lot of evergreens, most of which are not narrow leaf. Between the hellebores, the ivy, the vinca, the magnolia, the pachysandra and the sweet woodruff, the garden never really goes dormant.