The Garden in Winter

Our community garden next door has the quiet grace of nature in repose. While the mycelium throw parties underground, everything on the surface is conservative in its presentation, preparing for its debutante spring premiere. A break in the rain this past week found us wandering about and noticing the little things.

If you happen to be lucky enough to live in an area with manzanita, late winter/early spring is a wonderful time to get your nectar on. Especially after a rain, pluck a few flowers and suck at the base. Divine.

Early spring is also an excellent time to steal other people’s garden ornaments.

And falling in love with every container of stagnant water.

Some discoveries invited us to lay upon the earth, synching up heartbeats, with the reminder to rest.

Right before she ate one and the vigorous tongue scraping from mama that followed. Everyone survived.

If you open your eyes to SEE, you never know what you might discover…

Then it was back inside for a warm bath, watching “Winnie the Pooh” naked (Fern, not me), and enjoying a slice of (successful!!) sourdough bread.

The japanese plum trees have begun to flower, just as the cold and rain arrived. Early February feels like the wee beginning of spring to me. How is it in your world? Are you covered in snow, knee deep in mud, or frolicking about in a different hemisphere?

One last note…I haven’t been able to leave comments on some blogger sites for over a week (ones with a “pop out” comment window seem to be fine, but others just won’t post). If you haven’t heard from me in a while, don’t take it personally! In the meantime, has anyone else had this problem and do you Β know how to resolve it?



19 thoughts on “The Garden in Winter

  1. Those wee ‘shrooms are adorable, and I’m in love with Fern’s outfit!

    How was your sourdough making experience? I saw on FB that you were having some trouble… I’ve been wanting to make some for a while, that’s why I ask. Was it tough once you figured it out?


    1. sara, it was a year of try, fail, and try try again. there are three things i have found that are vital for success. 1. a good starter 2. the right kind of flour, which seems to vary widely depending on who makes it and also the climate in the kitchen at the time and 3. every batch is different and requires being intuitive.

      so maybe i’m not the best to ask, but i still think sourdough is pretty tough! but you can PM me and i’ll tell you all i know…basically, it seems hard because of the number of variables. once those are figured out, i think it’s easier.

  2. Fern gathering eggplants reminds me of the ones of her gathering pumpkins πŸ™‚ Yes, ditto loving her outfit & the patterns on her tights. You dress her so adorably, Mary. Love the wee fairy folk amid the teeny mushrooms.

    And just what are we to make of this mild winter? Esp. after such a brutal one only a year ago, is what has me scratching my head… Farmer’s almanac was predicting my area as cold and wet…but the cold part has been wayyy off. I’m sitting here with windows open, sun shining (tho it’s been a week of gloomies up til yesterday) and it’s only a wee bit cool. I’m thinking many gardeners have those seed catalogs out just itching to nestle those seeds into some good earth. I know I am. (Currently experimenting sprouting white sapote and sweet lemons — from organic seeds from a fruit farmer out there in Vista, CA — and lo & behold they JUST shot up their beautiful green heads this week! Wootz…)

    “Manzanita nectar” leads me to ask if you all also have honeysuckle in the West? It’s prolific here in the Southeast. (It may well be all over in the wild, but I’m just not sure…)

    Saw an article the other day about how vital taking children outside to explore the earth/nature on a frequent basis (daily, if possible) is — and guess who immediately came to mind πŸ™‚

    Hmmm, the early spring harbinger also seems to be bringing out a bit of “chatty Kathy” I bet you’re thinking! LOL.

    1. such a bizarre winter! we seem to have skipped right over it here. i am wondering if it will show up more in april…sometimes that happens where everything goes into bloom and then we get hit by killer frost. it’s unsettling when the seasons go wonky.

      i haven’t encountered honeysuckle, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have it. just the name conjurs up romantic thoughts.

      was the article about nature deficit disorder? that term has had some resurgence recently. mary ann, i wish i got fern out twice as much as i do! especially with the shorter days, our time is much too citified. xo

      1. Mary, yes, you’re so right… the article was in fact on nature deficit disorder! It’s just a brief article, but it references a book by Richard Louv “Last Child in the Woods”.

        I also realized later when I said I was excited on my experiment to grow white sapote and sweet lemon seeds that may have sounded a little funny — how hard is it to germinate a seed, right?

        Well, it was just a wee different for me as I had to gently coax the actual seeds out from their tough outer shells and not damage them while prying their shell apart with a very sharp knife. Certain tough coated seeds have to be coaxed or have a tiny bit of “surgery” on ’em to get them to grow (as in “scarification” like when you scratch a sunflower’s outer coat to get it to germinate quicker). But these had to come out of their shell entirely…That was why I was so happy these seeds actually bloomed. πŸ™‚ Hey, it doesn’t take much to make me happy!~

        BTW, if anyone has never tasted white sapote before it’s like eating vanilla custard in a fruit! Let them ripen til very soft, gently peel the thin pear-like skin. DEELish! If ya ever go to the Hillcrest Farmer’s market (I think it’s in San Diego?) check out Barry Koral and his tropical fruits. Barry and Clementine are amazing people you would instantly like! (you can see them on youtube also). I had to get my fruits sent 3000 miles, but they were so worth it–I had to try them after seeing the videos, so please forgive that “carbon footprint”! The box of citris fruits perfumed my house for weeks with their delicate (completely organic) scents. I hope to be successful and grow my own trees from the seeds I saved share with others. Fingers crossed!

  3. Currently I have 6 strawberry plants growing as well as the lemon tree and 7 of the reused carrots that have replanted are growing again! Nothing better than putting first grade gardening to use 40 years after learning it.

    Recycling carrots: Cut top off, (better if they still have the green sprouts), plant in 1″ of soil. The green sprouts will brown and fall off making way for new green sprouts.

    Out of the 12 carrots I replanted, 7 are doing well, the other five are gone. Don’t be discouraged if some of them don’t come back. Organic carrots work better than store bought. If you have a farmers market near you, buy from them.

    1. i have to wait until we have land to try carrots again. the container ones i did two years ago turned into creepy carrot people and i was afraid they would plot to march into the house when we were asleep. all those suckers went straight into the compost. πŸ™‚

  4. Wow that girly of yours is adorable. I like her gumption. Stagnant water and little kids…magnetic. We had been given some sourdough starter from a nearby friend….whereby after two weeks I unfortunately managed to kill it. For shame! I’m glad to see your success with sourdough bread lady! My husband makes wonderful pizza dough. I had a couple of hours to myself yesterday, and took my dog for a walk along the same track I used to take my babes in the buggy when they were little. The sweetest memories of just me and them and their babyness, and how time seemed to last forever. Nowadays, there are appointments, and school and kindy, and everything is slotted into a timeframe. This little venture you shared was a lovely reminder to take it easy, and look outside.

    1. how bittersweet, that image of you walking the path of babyhood and watching those same babies spin about in the ever increasing speed of their own lives. it’s a good reminder to take all my gripes away about toddlerhood and savor savor savor.

    1. maw, thanks for changing your comments for me! hooray! i have no idea what’s going on, but for no apparent reason, i just can’t post on certain sites anymore.

  5. fern, let’s go ornament stealing together…..i am so into that too!!! mary! you are living in a land with blossoms already? that is nuts. i am so confused. but. i did see a periwinkle bloom the other day. that was weird i thought.

    1. yup, welcome to san francisco, where it is always spring and fall and never summer. winter shows up whenever it wants to. like in june.

      was the periwinkle in the snow???

  6. Oh I love the writing in this and the flow. We really get a moment with you and Fern on adventures, and its really special. You guys are too cute sometimes: ) I love her shoes!!!!!!! They are so shiny new and so smart. She is going to be striding into Spring with all that Fern Power: )
    I may have mentioned, a wee collection is being made here for you two. To be dispatched at some unknown future date, when all nice and kinda odd things have come together in just the right way. x

  7. Haha! The thought of you watching winnie the pooh naked cracked me up! Also, cutest little garden ornament thief EVER. Geez, she could be a garden ornament herself. Can’t wait to meet your precious little mischievous elf child and for her to meet mine, as mothers of mischievous elf children unite!

    That would be fun to both get to experience the Alameda flea for the first time together, I’ve heard good things. Also, yes, I’ve heard of the white elephant thing but have still yet to make it down for one. Were you thinking of going to the open one in March. I’d totally be down for that!

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