Marcelle St. Germain
Big Ugly, West Virginia
The flowers are in bloom and the leaves are all on the trees here in South Florida, but I really miss the mountains of West Virginia. I picture the land is at rest, the compost and winter cover crop in the garden replenishing the soil, and at least some freeze at night to take care of some of the garden pests.
Wilma Dykeman in her early work, Family of Earth, reminds us of the beauty of our surroundings in the winter snowfall. Her rich description of the snowfall transports me back to the hills in December and January:
“Christmas again, and snow this year! The air filled with movement of innumerable flakes falling in steady rhythm to the ground, covering each object impartially, completely. Ah, how the snow excited me. Each time it came it was something new to me, as if it came the first time I had ever seen it fall, the sharp edge of wonder never dulled by having seen the whiteness before. It was always different, always beautiful.
And who has said the snow is silent? For ears accustomed to silence, the snow is sound. The faint murmur of the flakes piling one on top of the other fills the woods, and the leaves and stones and lichens are sounding boards for the snow, responding to its infinitesimal weight. It is far lonelier than silence to stand alone in the woods and hear the small noises of the snow. There is a hush, a mystic quality about those very sounds that gives to winter a freedom from lush sensation and feeling that is difficult to know during any other season in the woods.
Now is the time when each small things comes into its own perfection. The blade of broomsedge weed is no less than the limb of the great white pine, for each is covered with its burden of snow, each is transformed in its own magic. How unbelievable to me that every brown weed has its lacy pattern of ice and snow—how inconceivable that nothing should have been overlooked.
How beautiful even man’s botches have become under the snow. The broken gates, the sagging fences, the neglected yards and pastures: now they are right, are interesting of shape under the snow. It is an interval time of kindness. It is a time of undulation and curving softness. Fall is supposed to be the time of luxuriance, but it seems to me this is no less a time of fullness. Snow gives a quality of sweep to the mountains, a connectedness and oneness that subtracts the sharper peaks and banks, which are usually dominant, into a part of the curve made by all the mountains and streams. The branches of the trees are curved, the weeds and grasses bend toward the ground in the weight of the snow, roof peaks on the houses are round and no longer cut against the sky.–Wilma Dykeman Family of Earth pp 118-119
This short and lovely book, describing our seasons, would be a wonderful gift for any gardener or nature lover you know.