Finding Color in the Cold

Here’s my formula for getting through winter when it isn’t even officially winter yet: root through seed catalogs, make rough drafts of seed orders, and imagine wildflower drifts.  In the meantime, there are isolated instances of colorful life outside and in.  When you’re desperate, it’s amazing what you come up with.

You’re allowed to cheat:

I scrounged up this colorful bouquet of leaves, berries, edible greens, and a few flower survivors:

I think these are red Cos romaine leaves surviving from last spring:


Red Russian kale with contrasting India mustard are hardy into winter:

Back to semi-dormancy.


Cold Hard Fog

My son was back yesterday, filling us in on his fabulous Australia trip.  The blast of freezing cold after two weeks in paradise was just the tip of the iceberg of the culture shock he was experiencing being back here.  We tried our best to give him a warm welcome and remind him he always has a home with us.  Here is his “WTF am I doing back in the USA” look!  I can relate.

Similarly, here is Misu’s “are you kidding, it’s [email protected]#ing frigid out there” look.  Normally she’d be out stalking by now, but she’s staying on the warm side today.  And I’d be out there trying to find something not dead to photograph, but must be content with indoor succulents.  Right now we’re under a “freezing dense fog” advisory–that’s a new one to me.  Climate change is always full of new surprises.

This is the day E’s son died, decades ago, so this is always a difficult month for her, especially with zero family emotional support.  He would have been just about my son’s age now.  One more reason I always feel fortunate just knowing my son is alive somewhere–preferably nearby!  I never take that for granted.



Day 8 Finale

The last Chanukah lighting is always the bittersweet one, going out with a big nova.  I’m sad my son didn’t get to celebrate with us, but on the other hand, he’s back safely on the ground and in town.  I’m anticipating his visit.  I foresee a latkes reprise in our immediate future.

Outside, the snowmelt is pouring off the roof like waterfalls, but the ground is still dusted with white.  The average weather for this time of year should be almost twenty degrees warmer than it’s been, and continues to be.  A snowstorm affecting much of the southeast before xmas is not normal.  But then nowhere on earth is safe from human shortsightedness.

Southern White World

Here are the 7 lights from last night.

Little did we suspect we’d wake up to this!  What the–?!  Yes, down here in the South.  Before xmas–or at all.  And it’s still coming down in huge flakes.  Structures aren’t built for snow weight down here.  I can imagine the panic on the highways!  They’ll probably shut down the whole state.

It turns out this is a powerful winter storm heading across the southwest and southeast, causing heavy flooding in Texas and unusual snowfall and states of emergency in our area.

Misu took one baffled look, and immediately ran to the highest, warmest place she could find, on top of my printer up on the file cabinet.  There she perched, like a gargoyle in a snowstorm.  Even she’s not used to this crazy white stuff.

I don’t envy my son coming home to a scene like this, after being in a tropical paradise for two weeks.  He’s probably safer up in the air at the moment than down here.  He’s going to have more than jet lag to contend with!  Hopefully he won’t get stranded by delays and cancellations, but as long as he’s safe, I’m happy.

Flowers and Lights, Day 6

I had to cheat on the flowers and buy some, but there are still a few stragglers to be had.  The forecast is rain, snow (?!), freezing, etc.  Blah.  Not quite the temperate Southern winter we were expecting!

Chanukah is speeding along as usual.  I wish my son could have joined us for it, but he appears to be having much more fun in a land down under!  Melbourne looks like the pastry capital of Australia, if not the world.

But there are compensations, as my brother and bro-in-law graciously sent their annual holiday installment of See’s candies from CA., which raises the fest level considerably.


Day 4

Here are the four lights from last night, Misu observing from the safety of under the table, and my lucky loaded dreidel (it always lands on gimel, for real).  All dedicated to the memory of my boss, Erik.  May his pastures be greener than it is down here on this frigid morning.

It’s in the 20s, and everything is frosty and frozen.  My son is going to have extreme climate shock when he gets back from Australia, where it’s in the 80s and 90s.  I can’t even find photos to take from indoors.  All I can do is plan my spring garden, and shiver.

RIP Great Dane

I refer to my late great Danish boss, Erik Rosenbaum, may he rest in peace.  It’s strange how you get these premonitions, and then it turns out someone’s gone forever.

I had to have been one of the most obnoxious, OCD, high-maintenance employees in the history of Sun Nurseries, but I was always treated graciously and appreciated, for what I don’t know.  That ten years brought me through an extreme purging process, in no small part thanks to my patient, long-suffering bosses, managers, and co-workers, who had more faith in me than I warranted.

Now, looking back, I realize belatedly how much those years and this wonderful employer meant to me, and what a mentor and role model Erik was to many of us.  He was a true scientist, but more, a person of high standards and integrity.  I remember his sense of humor, and the work ethic he demonstrated by jumping right in there with us, even into his older years.  But I guess he wasn’t immortal, after all.

I didn’t keep in touch enough to know of the difficult medical issues he dealt with the past few years.  Characteristically, his mind was still strong even as his body deteriorated to where he couldn’t speak or move.  Though I never really knew him, the sense of loss I feel says a lot about the significant role he played in my growth.  He will be missed by all of us fortunate enough to have worked for him.

Appropriately enough, it’s a freezing gray day here, much colder than the average for this time of year,   with icy stuff coming down intermittently.  Bleh.  Even Misu is smart enough to adjourn to warmer parts (mostly E’s lap).  She brings to mind Erik’s lovable cat Mia, the mascot of the nursery.  The only lifelike plant life I care to photograph today is likewise indoors.

The fourth day candles await lighting; tonight they’ll also serve as a symbolic memorial light.  And most importantly, my eagerly awaited Seed Savers 2019 catalog has arrived, signifying it must be unofficial winter!  Time to start daydreaming about improved gardens, another reminder of how Erik and Sun contributed to my love of horticulture and botanical pursuits.  He loved experimenting with pawpaw trees; I think I shall plant one in his honor.