Posted by: Darrin Parmenter, La Plata County Extension
Author and philosopher Albert Camus once wrote “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” As a philosopher, I can only assume that there were multiple layers to that line and perhaps he was only speaking personally. But many of us can relate, especially now when the cold and wetness and darkness have crept into our bones.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the snow. After living in Florida for 4 winters I have grown to appreciate seasonality. I enjoy seeing my breath, feeling the hairs on my beard freeze. I enjoy how the snow sticks to the bare branches of trees and shrubs, and the sound it makes when it hits the metal roof.
As a gardener, or one who teaches gardening, I look forward to educating myself on what I can do different, or what I hope to do when I grow up, or what the farm or yard or garden will look like next year. I grow envious of my farmer friends as they look forward to the next growing season and what they will plant and the difference they will make - only to know that come September, they will all be tired and sore, calloused and windblown, and they will occasionally look up to the sky and say “Please, just two more weeks without a freeze” or “Please freeze come tonight because I am so sick of finding squash among the prickly leaves.”
I smile watching my class of bushy-tailed Master Gardener students hungry for information. Then, after one 8 hour class, watching their eyes glaze over as the amount of facts, hints, photos and bulleted PowerPoint items race through their brain.
Winter gives me time to think about where my yard, or property, will be in 5 years. Currently, the small back yard is consumed by shade, and Asher and Bella and Elena and Grey (and London, the dog) as they need the space to let loose of energy and practice baseball and soccer (and stick fetching). It leads Beth and me to ask “what if?” – What if we moved out of town and had acreage to grow and escape and raise animals other than those that go to school. We like living where we can bike to school, work or our favorite park or restaurant. But to have a large garden, or a greenhouse, or chickens, or a horse…that would be awesome. But I’m pretty sure those are somewhat restrictive in the Historic District of downtown Durango. Then there’s life: practices and lessons, full-time jobs and traffic, and hours in cars, carting kids back and forth.
So this winter, I will wait patiently. I will wait for spring blossoms and the greening of grass; I will wait for warm summer mornings, baseball under the lights, and alpine wildflowers; I will wait for the smell of fall and the changing of the colors. And then I will once again wait for the killing frosts and first snows and a cold, dark drive home.