Away in a meadow all covered with snow
The little old groundhog looks for his shadow
The clouds in the sky determine our fate
If winter will leave us all early or late.
– Don Halley
Dealing with the long, cold winters of the North can really be a struggle for Massachusetts gardeners. Short days, long nights, almost no sunshine, and a complete lack of any warmth can really drive you nuts. As a Florida girl, I’ve had to develop many winter coping strategies over the years, ranging from researching the perfect Caribbean getaway to trying to embrace winter and start doing winter sports. The latter tactic always starts out strong and gets progressively less enthusiastic as shoveling snow and clearing out frozen gutters takes up more and more of my time.
What I’ve found that consistently helps get me through the long winters is visiting my garden through the window. One of my favorite things to do in the morning is sit down with a cup of tea on my frosty back porch and look at all the birds and squirrels searching for food amongst the snowdrifts. Recently I spotted a huge red tailed hawk sitting on my Weeping Katsura tree, looking back at me with his big golden eyes. It was -4 degrees out, so he was all fluffed up to stay warm. As I write this, I just saw him swoop down again into the yard. It’s always an honor to catch a glimpse of such a gorgeous bird. I just hope he’ll stay long enough to put a damper on the local rabbit population – what a lucky break that would be!
Our bird feeders also attract quite a variety of local birds. I always love seeing bright red cardinals flitting about the feeder looking for food. Their crimson plumage is a welcome change from the drab colors of winter. Blue jays also frequent my backyard, always squawking at each other, all puffed up like self-important businessmen. Even squirrels, the bane of a full bird feeder, are genuinely fun to watch, chattering to themselves as they perform all sorts of acrobatic stunts to get at the birdseed. Despite the numerous attempts at DIY squirrel-proofing, they always manage to get onto at least one of the four bird feeders and wreak some havoc. They really are adorable, though, especially when they’re all fat and fluffy for the winter.
Another perk of “window gardening”, as I like to call it, is watching the ice crystals melt off the tree branches. The dripping meltwater catches the sunlight reflecting off the snow and is truly stunning. The other big advantage of window gardening is that it doesn’t require much work, only time and a desire to observe. It almost feels like going to the beach and watching the waves in terms of how relaxing and meditative it can be. In our busy, hectic world, I urge you to try and spend some time window gardening. If you look long enough, you’ll always catch a show right outside your window.