It’s an odd time isn’t it? Deep worry about COVID yet hopeful about vaccines, the power of masks and distancing; hopeful about politics yet anxious about delayed transitions; transitioning to winter but staring at the green grass through the windows. It’s a liminal time, a betwixt and between time – a pause requiring study through windows and without.
Interestingly, in this unique time there are new tools that allow a peek into someone else’s lived experience, for the view from a home window. Window Swap and View from my Window evolved during lockdown on various platforms. My day inevitably starts with a long look out the dining room window, and as I’m as anxious as everyone else, I can understand the strange, voyeuristic enjoyment of seeing what others see daily. In an odd way, these tools worked to elevate what could become mundane in isolation – affirming that we are still here and oh look, we’re not alone. With travel severely limited, this might just provide a release of sorts and your carbon footprint is so much smaller too – OMG a double hit!
So what’s beyond my window? Well, you might not always see the beauty in this transition season but I think it might be another chance to use the word sublime -’cause, why wouldn’t you?
We’ve woken to first snows here in eastern Ontario although nary a flake has stayed more than a few hours – yet. Outside one window, not far from the computer screen that clamours for attention, I look outside and watch a ground ballet – flocks of robins and starlings, neatly spaced, pecking their way across the snowy lawn. A hunt for seed and insects to help them on their way south no doubt. And yes, the waves of geese continue above. It expands the definition of the garden to encompass seasonal change, the ongoing work and migration of beasts and birds, the beauty of those plants now pausing. It is not about surrender and demise, it is about preparation for change.
An ongoing debate was whether or not to cut down the Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum, to tidy the space. But honestly, tidy is not all it’s cracked up to be – let nature behave as it should. It demands a rethink, of paying attention to leaving organic materials in place both as shelter for bugs, food for squirrels and birds, and as ultimate nourishment for future plant growth. For all kinds of good stewardship reasons, the plants will stay and desiccate over the winter providing shelter for all sorts of wee beings. For now, oh the colour that has been introduced is wonderful – somewhat like an impressionist brush heavy with yellow ochre.
I notice the structure of the garden more – the solidity of the green frame in place that cradles us in trying times. Take note – when looking through the window or walking about though, fight the inclination to unendingly list all the projects for next year but rather slow down and notice the details today.
And there’s something wonderful about how plants hold each other in autumn. See the multiple mounds – even if I only planted three to start – of Blue Fescue, Festuca glauca, as they nudge up against Hens and chicks, Sempervivums; how the newly planted Red Osier Dogwood, Cornus stolonifera, sketches out a ruby web against the sky while it sheds green leaves; how the winter creeper, Euonymus fortunei, snuggles up against the Spirea while sweet woodruff, Galium odoratum, prepares to die back under the leaves. Sure, the planting was mine but the poetry, well, plants have expression of their own don’t they?
I’m thinking of a quote from Lorraine Johnstone in Tending the Earth – A Gardener’s Manifesto: “While each of us may be changing the world on coneflower at a time, the world of the garden is doings its own crucial work of changing us.” This happens everyday, every season. We have a plan and then suddenly, the garden shows us something unexpected, a movement, an unexpected beauty – a teaching.
Hope quietly informs the day as I fall into this late season with all its trials and tribulations. The next season will come soon enough but for now, breathe and just be betwixt and between. And with multiple windows at hand and online? Well, all the better to understand the scope of the garden – yours, mine, ours.