These last few weeks it’s been challenging to keep all the winter storms straight in my head. There have been storms that brought heavy snows. One delivered 20″ of wet snow overnight. Then there have been storms bringing a deluge of rain and flooding. There also have been wind storms. And like the rest of the country, the temperatures have gone up and down like a yoyo. Since these storms and dramatic weather shifts have piled up fast and furiously, it’s been hard to remember which storm brought which difficulty.
When I went to the grocery store last week in between major storms, shoppers in long holiday lines bantered about how many days they had been without power. The mood was humorous even giddy. People seemed to have abandoned their holiday expectations in favor of just rolling with it. Like so many of us in so many places, the crowd was going with the flow and not taking plans seriously. Everyone seemed happier and more relaxed than in holiday seasons past.
This was a good thing as by the next day, the lights were once more out across the region with everything shut down. We felt fortunate to have our woodstove to heats the house and to warm foods pulled from the freezer. We were especially glad for our stash of staff goddess Emily MacNamara’s enchilada sauce which she makes for her family’s farmstand in the summer. We try to be prepared for these situations, but the dogs were messing with our preparations. They plundered our pots of back up drinking water under the kitchen table which meant these pots got downgraded from potable to water available to flush toilets. Not to worry. There was always snow to melt and eat (just not the yellow snow).
Out in the gardens, the storms wreaked havoc. Trees broke, limbs broke and thick branches broke as the heavy snows bent and snapped garden shrubs and trees everywhere. The lilacs in particular took it on the chin, though things like our gorgeous smokebush were also flattened. A kind neighbor came and chainsawed the broken birch tree blocking our driveway. This left garden paths impassable with broken branches and the gardens in general a bewildering mess. For a day or two I just looked out the window and girded my loins for the clean up ahead.
When a big rain melted most of the snow, I took my handsaw out and began cutting down broken branches. First I tackled the Lilacs in the Arbor Garden, a garden which had already seen so much change in 2022. I hauled enormous limbs out into open space above the main vegetable. I did this until I realized I was just making another kind of mess to clean up.
Jim can’t take these branches to the bottom of our hayfield where they get composted. The whole field is icy from one of the rain storms. He could get the truck down there on some sort of wild sleigh ride, but he wouldn’t get it back up the hill and back to the driveway…… until maybe April. Finally I threw in my hand saw and accepted I have to just wait for spring to clean up the mess.
I had wanted to clean up so I could get a sense of exactly how different the gardens will be in the spring. Now I must let go of that need to know and rest in remembering how resilient living things are in this part of the world. All these shrubs and trees will recovery and grow back. It may take a few seasons, but it will happen.
As I considered this, it made me remember why this is a great climate for growing Flowers and making Flower Essences. Consider the Lilacs. The Lilac Flower Essence we make is vibrant and strong because the Lilacs here, all twenty or thirty varieties, have to be really tough to handle the weather. Broken branches won’t stop them from sending up new shoots next spring which will rapidly become flowering branches.
I take comfort in the fact that extreme weather is one reasons our Flower Essences are so high in vibration. Weak plants just don’t make it around here, only the really resilient and determined ones do, and this translates into Flower Essences that carrying the wisdom of their Flowers and also their great strength, life force, resilience, determination and desire to live and thrive.
I have sometimes wondered why it was here on this land in this climate of so much extreme weather that I was meant to make Green Hope Farm Flower Essences, but these storms remind me why. And when this insight isn’t quite enough to make me completely delighted with our long and gnarly winters of daily wind, snow, ice and cold, I can always pull up closer to our woodstove and leaf through seed catalogues.
Even now as the winds howl, it’s time to start designing the new year’s gardens to plant. Somehow I know the newly “pruned” gardens and all their Flowers will be wonderful and brimming with life force. And I will get to be back in them, free of crampons and barefoot instead, happily making Flower Essences from their abundant blossoms.
In the meantime, Sheba supervises the damage with her usual panache.