warmth in winter

One kind word can warm three winter months.

— Japanese proverb

The “wooly worm” stays warm in his own way.  My grandfather taught us to look to his coat in autumn to see how the winter was going to go.

This one, discovered in November in a place unfriendly to little creatures and gently moved to safety, seemed about average to me.  Clearly, I got it wrong.  But then, I’m still learning to “read” this and all the other signs of the weather patterns and the land that Granddaddy has been patiently pointing out to me for years, long before I began to pay attention.

It’s abnormally cold here now, cold enough to make the parsley, star of the winter garden, faint dead away.  And the mint and sorrel leaves, those glorious bits of green in otherwise sere, brown kitchen garden beds, are probably finished now, too.

I’m a little worried about my garlic shoots.  F. and I discussed going to buy a bale of straw to spread over them on the day before the steep drop in temperature, but I ultimately vetoed the idea based on cost.  Already the organic seed garlic cost me a few dollars, and if I added in a bale of straw and the time away from work to buy and spread it, that garlic becomes mighty expensive, even for fresh organic.

I did speak words of comfort to the wee green shoots on the morning of the whisper of snow.  I told them how strong and tough they were, and how lovely to my eyes, and that I liked to imagine how the baby bulbs must be enjoying their warm, red blanket of earth beneath the crusty, half-frozen surface.

Maybe the kind words will help.  What do you think?

I don’t know if I’d count on the one kind word as a substitute for winter fuel, especially if you live in, say, Vermont.  In some parts of the continent at this time of year, you can feel the bite of mortality in the winds.  We who live further south are reminded of this now, when it’s so cold that we veto small trips unless they are absolutely necessary and even the cats hesitate to go outside.  (Booty stood indecisive in the doorway today, then shook first one paw and then the other, as if in disgust, before turning back to the warm living room.)

Nonetheless, the proverb is true in its way.  I have felt the warmth of a genuine kind word linger in my heart for years, whether given or received.

And now… time for another garlic pep talk, I think.

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10 Responses to “warmth in winter”

  1. No matter what, I know the garlic will enjoy the kind words. 🙂

  2. I’m with Booty! I just want to stay indoors, too. Just had to pump gas and am still feeling frozen. (That will teach me to let it get so low.)

    I do believe your tender shoots hear your comforting words.

  3. What a beautiful pic, thanks for sharing the tip your grandfather taught you. I’d never heard of that before.

    • Thank you. I can take all the photography compliments y’all want to throw my way. 🙂

      I’m glad you liked the tip, too. Sometimes I worry all this great knowledge about the earth will die out with this aging generation of long-time farmers…

  4. What a lovely post and picture of the wooly caterpillar. My mom used to say when the birds would continue to eat during a rain storm that the rain would continue.

    • That’s interesting, gloria, and it makes sense to me. If the rain is going to last more than a couple of hours, they have to keep up the endless hunt for food regardless of the wet. Thanks for the compliment! 🙂

  5. That is a wonderful photo….and your kindness will be rewarded in feeling good inside! gail

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