In one of my past lives, I was a social worker in East Orange, New Jersey, for the state children’s agency – I remember one of my many co-workers was an interesting guy who one day shared with me his belief that Christmas had been artificially placed in the middle of the world’s most depressing time of year, specifically for the purpose of adding a little joy to an otherwise gloomy and dreary season – an interesting concept, and one that has, frankly, taken on a stronger significance the older I have become. And moving into the Northwest of the U.S. has only reinforced that same significance.
Let’s hear it for Christmas!
As I emerged into the early morning light today (7:45), I noticed the last few potted dahlia hanger-on blooms on the porch, and I thought to myself, Isn’t it nice that there still is some of nature’s beauty, even as the season turns to enter its least “flower friendly” period. And that thought led to another – Why not bring just a tiny bit sunshine to my own soul this winter, and occasionally seek out those few members of nature’s world which refuse to cease blooming, regardless of the season? I’m quite sure that if I’m willing to get out and look around a little bit, I can find those members of the plant world that refuse to join the crowd.
And so I have determined to do just that – I’ll call it Project Bloom. Each month this winter, I shall venture forth to find the bravest of nature’s flowers – those who choose the most inhospitable of seasons to burst into bloom, and to celebrate the joy of life – why should we not join them in that joy, and feel better for the effort itself? And then I’ll do a post here on the blog to share with others, who may just need a little winter joy as well.
I’m quite willing to take bets on this – I’ll bet that I find MUCH more of nature’s beauty than anyone could imagine was out there! And even with my own optimistic attitude, I’d bet that even I will be surprised just how much is out there, waiting to be seen – and appreciated.
I’m going to begin at what is locally recognized as the unofficial start of the winter season – November 1st. There will still be some nice Indian Summer days (maybe) during November, but few could argue that the annual shift in weather patterns has not already begun, bringing us steady light rains on a regular basis, and an almost constant supply of clouds. When this weather pattern has set in, we know we’re about to have it with us for the next six months – with maybe only a peek of sun on one or two days a week.
I’ve painted a rather dismal forecast, haven’t I! Could there possibly be a bright side? Well, yes, there is. What folks tend to forget about all those clouds and gloom is that they are exactly why it doesn’t get brutally cold here in the winter. As long as the clouds are present, the warmer air close to the surface of the earth cannot escape into the atmosphere. Only rarely do we get a combination of a clear, sunny sky, and a fast moving low system with Arctic winds bringing icy cold down upon us. Such occasions may bring the temps down to the mid teens, but such an occurrence is truly rare, and may only happen once every 5 or 10 years. My friends back east are often shocked to learn that we have neither air conditioning or central heating in our house – we have a wood burning fireplace in our living room, and it is easily sufficient to keep us snugly warm.
Yup, the clouds may eventually cause Cabin Fever, but in the meantime, they are keeping us comfortable and just mildly depressed.
It’s taken me a goodly portion of my twelve years here in Oregon to get a sense of just how early our spring actually is – I now realize that we may have one of the slowest emerging Springs in all the U.S. – and I think we’ll find evidence of this fact with our little Project Bloom. In fact, the month of December may well be the depth of winter’s grip on nature’s plants hereabouts – but come January, my bet is that we’ll begin to find emerging green shoots, swelling buds, and even a few blooms to cheer us in our quest.
So -without further ado- here are the Project Bloom entries for Nov. 1st., our unofficial beginning of winter.
Yeah, you’re right – it wasn’t very hard to find Project Bloom candidates in November – but come next month, and we’ll have a different story – Or will we? Stay tuned and find out!