Nature in Late Winter

Our house in the woods

Our house in the woods

Healingmagichands made a blog challenge to go into nature and explore the world at hand.  So I went out of my house today to go for my first walk in the woods around the house and into the backyard.  Except for a path shoveled around the house, most of the winter found the snow too deep for any kind of walk into the woods.  Now, though the snow has mostly melted, I caught the last bits of snow hanging on to the back roof — a roof so covered I was just about ready to go shovel it off in early March before the promise of warmer weather caused me to leave it to nature.

Last bits of snow hanging on

Last bits of snow hanging on

The snow is melting, and we live part way down a hill which heads towards a stream.  That means that water flows from above us to below us, causing spring time to be full of streams and a very soggy back yard.   Luckily the builders did a good job positioning us so the basement — which is finished living space — remains dry.  But the yard is wet!  We have a series of trails near the house which lead down to

A stream of snow melt

a small river.   I had planned to go there today, it’s not far.  But the mud was a bit too intense, I’ll make it there in a few weeks and post another nature blog.    Below is a view into the woods from our driveway.   The hill on the other side is on the other side of the river.  While I was outside I could hear dogs — neighbors have husky dogs they run on the trials to train them.   Despite numerous hikes I’ve never actually run across them, but at times they can easily be heard!

The woods are absolutely beautiful this time of year, even though one might

Looking out towards the river (not visible)

Looking out towards the river (not visible)

think them as barren and sparse.  There is little color; the evergreens provide the only green, the grass poking through the snow is still brown, and the snow adds white.  But this is the moment just before life awakes, the streams of water and disappearing snow banks will soon give way to vibrant green!  Our gardens are ready to come alive!   They are small, though we hope to be part of  a larger community garden the builders started to organize last fall.

The front garden

The front garden

The back garden (protected by deer fence)

The back garden (protected by deer fence)

The front garden was installed last year.  We bought this house in April 2007, two years ago, and the lawn came up to the house.  Natasha and her dad did most of the work of installing this when her folks visited from Russia last year.  The back garden came into being in the spring.   We have great builders, but they used rocky fill, so it was a pain to dig out these gardens (which we use for veggies, particularly tomatoes and cucumbers, also some spices).   Obviously as the snow shows, we have to wait awhile before getting ready for this year’s planting.

We also are waiting for neighbors.  Thanks to the housing crunch, work on this development has stopped.  Our builders, who own the land and live close by, have yet to sell the house just up from ours, built in the summer of 2007.  The plan is to next build one down a bit from ours, but they’re holding off until that one sells.  It’s very nice.  We want neighbors!  We’re hoping we’ll get some this summer!

Through the woods, a house for sale

Through the woods, a house for sale

So, no beautiful pictures of flowers, or green landscape.  Yet, somehow, this is one of my favorite times of the year to wander around on the soggy grass.  The air is fresh, and the sound of the water as it forms little streams heading down the hill is magical.   One also gets the sense that a kind of rebirth is occurring.  All of this appears dead, and so far no buds are on the trees, and only a few birds and spiders seem to indicate the coming onslaught of green.    Below is a photo from winter, showing the utter white that defines that season:

Our driveway in February

Our driveway in February

I really love winter, the snow stays clean and crisp, and there is something snug about having the house buried in deep snow.  Sure, I have to keep a path shoveled for oil deliveries, and so the meter reader can read how much electricity we’ve used.  And, thanks to extremely heavy snowfall the last two years (last year was worse than this year) I shovel around the foundation to try to relieve stress on the basement when the snow melts.

Our driveway early April

Our driveway early April

So it was an inspiring walk in nature today, even if the spring awakening is still a couple weeks away.   Ryan, who turns six this Friday, was asking about life in “heavens,” wondering what it is like when we die.  After my walk today I look him to the window and said, “do all those trees, grass and plants out there look alive or dead?”

“Dead,” he answered matter of factly.

“Will they be dead in a few weeks?”  I responded.  He said, no, in summer everything comes alive.

“That’s what it’s like with people too.   We never really die, we just leave this world for another.   And sometimes we come back to this one.   Who knows, maybe you were my daddy in your last life.”  He laughed at that.  My dad died of pancreas cancer at age 60, eight years before Ryan was born.   I thought of my dad as I walked around outside, wondering what he would think of his ‘professional student’ son who was still single and living in a one room apartment despite being over 30 when my dad passed away.   I had my interview scheduled with Farmington before my dad died, and he assured me I’d get this job.  I flew off to the job interview the day after I gave the eulogy at his funeral.   And if this late winter nature tells me anything, it’s that death is not permanent, it’s just a natural transition.

  1. #1 by Mike Lovell on April 2, 2009 - 16:37

    Well hey, my offer still stands that you can buy me a house! Although come winter time, outside of shoveling out a path, you wont see much of me shivering underneath a big huge coat inside the house!

    I often wonder about the other side of life. I never realy did, until just before my 13th birthday when we went out to California for my papa’s (my mother’s dad)funeral. He had moved out to Iowa the year before, but returned to California after his prostate cancer came back. I saw him less than my Grandpa Lovell, but he was always my favorite person, and his death really screwed up my world, as far as my beliefs went. I often wonder if he is somewhere looking down over me, or if he went and jumped into a new body or whatever other possibilities there are. The night before his funeral, I slept in his den…my aunt owns the same house they grew up in. I had a hard time falling asleep on that couch. I didn’t have any blankets with me, but I woke up under covers, and befoer anyone else. I like to think that he somehow came back to tuck me in.

  2. #2 by healingmagichands on April 2, 2009 - 18:53

    Oh my, what a lot of snow you still have! This post made me remember my life in Fairbanks, Alaska, lo these many decades ago. I used to say we had FIVE seasons. Winter, which lasted from early October til Late march; Break-up, which happened in April; Spring, which happened in May to June; Summer, which comprised July, August and the first week of September, and Fall, which took about three weeks of September.

    As far as after death is concerned, I am one of the ones who subscribes to the believe that the soul/energy part of our beings has choices after our physical body is finished. That energy manifests on some other dimension after death. It can stay there, or it can decide to experience physical linear life once again. I have no real proof of this, except I clearly recall my experience of learning to read in this life at the age of three. My mother was reading aloud to me, and suddenly I said “I know how to do this!” and I did. I had to practice the skill a bit to hone it, but by the time I entered kindergarten I was reading Heidi, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and lots of other stuff on the same level. It took my kindergarten teacher a while to believe that I could actually do what it was that I was doing. I still think I was accessing past life skills.

  3. #3 by henitsirk on April 3, 2009 - 04:45

    Thanks for sharing pictures of your bit of the world! One of these days we’ll move somewhere with more long-lasting winter snow. NY and ID so far have always had snow-melt-snow-melt-etc. patterns all winter long.

    Nature is a wonderful teacher for little children. I believe in “as above, so below” or microcosm-macrocosm similarities. I think there are correspondences all around us to show us deep facts of existence, if only we can perceive them. Which of course children do quite easily sometimes. Easter is an “easy” holiday in some sense, because rebirth and resurrection is all around us this time of year.

  4. #4 by Lee on April 3, 2009 - 12:34

    Oh I saw some of that snow you have yesterday as I was up in Gorham visiting my mom! Snow is essentially gone here except for the parking lot icebergs and we have crocus and snow drops and scilla blooming in our yard.

    In an odd twist of fate, the reason for our visit was that my mom’s husband has been diagnosed with a pancreatic cancer and has very little time left I think. He is 95 and all ready very frail so I hope for him that this passing will be peaceful and relatively pain free. At present he is still able to be in a wheel chair for short bits of time (30 minutes max) so we drove up so the kids could have a last visit with their grandfather. I have told the eldest two about grampa’s illness but have yet to broach this with my 4 y/o who is exceptionally close to him. Not looking forward to that one!

  5. #5 by Scott Erb on April 3, 2009 - 13:16

    Healingmagichands: Wow, that’s impressive! Here I was proud of how my kindergarten son can make out words on signs, but reading Heidi?! I wonder how much we all could do if we didn’t block ourselves. I think your thoughts about the soul make sense. After having read quite a bit of stuff on modern physics (written for the non-physicist, to be sure!) I am convinced that even our notions of time and space are psychological fabrications to render the world sensible to us — sort of like stage scenery. Yet we can not imagine a different orientation to time or space (which are really one in the same, space-time). And quantum mechanics is even more bizarre. In fact, a mechanistic materialist notion of pure cause and effect is almost impossible to maintain the more one understands modern physics.

    Lee, sorry to hear about the illness, but you know, if he made it to 95 the focus really has to be on celebrating life. That should be the focus even for a younger person dying, but it’s a lot easier to see it that way when someone has nearly a century behind him. Pretty impressive, though the leaving and saying goodbye is difficult at any age.

    Henitsirk – I agree. A colleague of mine teaches a course on children and nature, and argues a similar point — we do our children no favors when we focus on things in the classroom to the neglect of our natural world.

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