Here, along the shores of Lake Champlain, the sun doesn’t shine much in January. January…deep in to winter…dark days, dark nights, bitter cold winds…some years the snow seems endless…this year I am left wondering where is the snow? 

Took a walk around the gardens this afternoon…garden beds iron hard…the still silhouettes of the deciduous shrubs stand mutely in the weak sunlight…the leaves of the hardy euphorbia stiff and leathery…a few twisted pods still cling to the dried stalks of the asclepias tuberosa…there is beauty here in the stark stillness of a late January afternoon. Beauty in the muted browns of the branches, silvery grays of sage and lavender, bleached out blondes of the grasses and faded chartreuse of the chamaecyparis…I can clearly see the framework of my gardens and admire the soft pinky-lilac of the stone that forms a backdrop for one bed…yes, it is beautiful and oh, so very still.

Late January…the days are noticeable longer. On those rare occasions when the sun shines there is a hint of warmth, just a hint but enough to briefly lift my spirits.

Late January…the freshness of the new year has worn off a bit, seed catalogs are well thumbed and the seeds have been ordered. A little winter pruning has been done. Too early to sow seeds. Too frozen to rake up the leaves that escaped the last raking in early December.

Late January is when I grow weary of winter even though it is a necessary part of the life cycles of the plants that I so love. I am hungry for sunshine and open windows, walking out in the early morning without a coat and scarf, the smell of moist soil and the fresh greens of growing plants. I remember now why, for three years in a row, I made sure I missed this part of winter in Vermont. I am ready for spring or a trip to a far away place where the sun shines and the sand is warm.