“The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer. Minute by minute they lengthen out. It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change. It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.” ~~ Vita Sackville-West
It has been — it is still being the strangest of winters. We had virtually no rain through all of December and January. We had several weeks of freezing weather, which is most unusual around here — we get scattered nights with below 32 degree temperatures but they are few and far between.. We soft-living Californians were like hot-house plants suddenly thrown out into the cruel cold. These freezing weeks were immediately followed by two or three weeks of such balmy warmth that we walked around in shorts and flip-flips. While that might be somewhat normal for southern California, this is northern California — no sandals here in January! On top of that we are now officially in a drought — yet it is raining outside today — glorious rain! — the first real rain we’ve had this long winter. Last weekend we even had snow in the hills around us! Again, a pretty unusual happening — something that comes maybe once every four or five years. ….. A very strange winter!
Here in Ray’s garden, almost nothing is blooming — the paper-white narcissus and the old-fashioned purple iris are the only winter faithfuls doing their job right now. And so, clean-up and planning for future additions is about all that’s going on here, but goodness knows, that’s plenty.
Here they are “cutting a corner” — actually repaving a spot that a delivery truck destroyed one day. While the location is often mistaken for a home, this is a business, and very large trucks come through making deliveries. After the third or fourth time this corner was flattened, Ray wisely decided to cut it back and give the trucks more space.
The major remodel however is happening in that back area where things get dumped that you don’t want seen — every garden has a space like this. This one has been cleared out and has some lovely new paving in place.
“Bare branches of each tree
on this chilly January morn
look so cold so forlorn.
Gray skies dip ever so low
left from yesterday’s dusting of snow.
Yet in the heart of each tree
waiting for each who wait to see
new life as warm sun and breeze will blow,
like magic, unlock springs sap to flow,
buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow.”
~~ Nelda Hartmann, January Morn
The grapefruit tree once stood where the paving now lies, and the persimmon and pear trees are just around the corner. The grapefruit, which was always in an awkward spot, has been moved to a back corner and we are all anxiously watching to see if it will survive. The existing trees are now to be joined by a Mission Fig, an Italian Prune, and a Fuji Apple. (That’s the heavily-pruned grapefruit under cover in the back corner.)
Now we wait. These are the waiting weeks. Clean-up has been done. Pruning is finished for the moment. The beds have been cleared of excess growth. Everything is clean and bare — and now we wait for what this very strange weather-year will bring us. And we dream of bright blossoms and fresh new fruit.
“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.” ~~ Andrew Wyeth