Beauty in the Midst of Bleak Winter

OK, I decided to take brilliant photographer David Perry‘s Challenge and go into my yard with my camera and look for signs of life and color. I have to admit that David lives up in the far Pacific Northwest and he was offering his suggestion (in addition to in a recent post) to gardener Dee who lives in Oklahoma, so, honestly, they might be both a bit snow-challenged at the moment. This didn’t stop Dee from taking some stunning photographs of her snowy backyard, but I do understand. Nevertheless, I had been maybe just a teeny bit gloomy about the garden this last week after being inundated with the heaviest storms in two years–all much-needed and welcomed water, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am SICK OF MUD and add I am relishing that sun streaming in through my office window onto my keyboard right now. Yum. Such a sun bunny. It’s ridiculous.

Through the sog [I make up words, what can I say?] a glim ray of inspiration kindled my creativity so I gathered my camera and slushed out bravely through the M#*, actually forgetting about it for the first time in weeks, and lost myself in the following mind exercise: what would David shoot? (As if.) I honestly did not bear high hopes for my excursion, but went with the process. Film is back.
[Yes, I’m still using a 35 mm. camera–a good one.] And here were the surprising results!

Seeking color I jumped immediately toward the single large rosehip which I’d not cut off the roses on the arbor behind my vege garden. Here is it.


Is it not cute? Next year I will hesitate to cut them back. Why have I abandoned my Sixties roots? They are a rich source of Vitamin C and a lovely cup of tea.
And so decorative meanwhile!

Wait, there’s more! Keeping the rosehip company in the arbor is the birdhouse. Granted it’s more for looks than for occupation, but it has its place, especially in winter, apparently, where its bright colors offer relief.

Continuing my quest, I looked about for things I would not normally think to
shoot. Where is the color? Where is the color? The life. The beauty. Conner had his own ideas, so I went along with his perceptions for a moment. And what he loved most was a yellow ball he and Ruby got for Christmas which he’d dropped into a big washtub I’d left rightside up for Ruby, to collect rainwater, as one of her favorite things in the world is to jump into water front paws first, kaboom. So I let my camera look through Conner’s eyes, and this is what he saw:

Conner in tub

What else? What else? Well, the most conspicuous splash of color in the yard at the moment is this birdbath I found in a Marshall’s in Scottsdale when I was still in the desert. When you are trying to garden in the desert you welcome such pieces, trust me! Here in California it blends into the foilage, but in winter, it does, indeed, pop!
Sunflower birdbath

Glancing around I certainly could not ignore the line-up of my European pots full of orphan roses I’d saved from (cough, cough) Walmart, all withered and overgrown and unbelieveably cheap! In summer they burst with those lovely single petaled pinks and whites and yellow saucer big roses. I love them. And now, refocus, it’s about the POTS.

Rounding out my Little Tour with New Eyes, I explored the last vestiges of the quince.

Maybe next year someone will teach me what to do with them. I fear they are a lost art/delicacy…

And, finally, a visit to the white lilac bush that graces the corner of my front yard, bearing the harbingers of spring–full of buds promising their sweetest fragrance and loveliest of blossoms that each passerby can enjoy.

White lilac bush in bud

Thanks to David for his invitation. May we all be inspired to look for beauty in the midst of our own winter seasons.

Love and blessings,

14 Responses to “Beauty in the Midst of Bleak Winter”

  1. Kathryn, I love your sunflower and the line up of pots. Good job!!! Keep looking for color. I’m doing my post today.


  2. Now that we are recovering from two nights of freezing temps that withered all my Hibiscus,( despite their coverings with mattress pads, etc) I may have courage to see what new hope will spring forth. At least here in Florida, things grow quickly.!

    Thanks for inspiration, once more.XXOOOOO

  3. Hi, Betsy and Dee! Yes, you both have freezing temps to deal with. We have freezing temps at night but things always warm up with the sun. I’m always astounded that my chard and arugula and the pansies fall over in the frost and then spring back up by mid-morning. What sturdy plants! The outer hills around the valley are all dusted with snow. It’s still unusual for me to see that. We seldom had that down in Marin. But I cherish it. It reminds me of Utah…Sorry about the new hibiscus, Betsy! Maybe they will spring back? Dee, I will come visit your blog! Kathryn xoxo

  4. Thanks again for sharing your inspiration infused with humour! You have a great eye!

  5. Hi Kathryn,
    I am writing to you about the synchronicity of my pondering all day why I did not venture out with my camera in hand. Rather I walked and drove through the rambling hills of the Languedoc,in southern France, where I now live with my family since 2 years trying to think about what I would capture. I wondered this am too, why I did not catch the sunrise with a photo? It was rich in a burnt orangish-cassis like hue from behind what I call the lollipop and cypress trees-oola.

    Oddly, I saw some perky quince outside my windows,front and back,and yes, here in this buzzing little winemaking town they still make quince confiture! I shall now be curious as to their recipes. My sweet husband is already known for his wild fig confiture. Happy New Year, may 2008 make us americans at home and abroad more proud of our nation and its choices.
    Ex-pat, BetheAnne
    ps new to blog world think my blog is although some people share they can not find it-

  6. Hi, BetheAnne! Welcome! How lovely to hear from you, and I had no trouble finding your blog which I look forward to exploring! How exciting for you to be living in the south of France! We lived in A’dam for three years and I treasure my European experience (and wouldn’t mind a bit more!). If your husband comes up with a recipe for quince confiture, I would love to hear about it! Someone sent me an old fashioned recipe for quinces by email and I’ve asked her to post later…Please visit again! I look forward to a rich exchange!

  7. Lovely to “discover” all the colors of Winter with you and your garden explorations.
    I hope the severe storms you‘ve been having will still leave some splashes of life here and there!!! I also appreciated the links to the other sites, particularly David Perry who never disappoints in his extraordinary artistry.

    Aloha from Maui!!

  8. Hi, P! As long as I don’t look DOWN, I’m fine! We did really well in the storms. Never lost power once! Praise be! But I’m sure you heard one of the bridges was down for HOURS. (That would be San Francisco area bridges, for readers…). Nice to have you visiting, and yes, isn’t David Perry the BEST??

    K. xoxo

  9. Kathryn,

    I have a recipe from an old cookbook for Baked Quinces:

    6 quinces
    3 tablespoons sugar
    12 orange slices 1/4″ thick
    1/4 cup macaroon crumbs
    2 tablespoons butter

    Select ripe fruit. Wash, pare, halve, and remove cores. Put, cut side up, in greased baking pan. Put skins and cores in saucepan. Cover with boiling water. Boil 20 minutes. Strain. Put sugar in each half quince. Put orange slice on each half. Pour 2 tablespoons of the peeling liquor over halves. Cover. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) until soft and red, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Sprinkle with crumbs. Dot with butter. Bake, uncovered in hot oven (425 degrees) about 5 minutes or until brown. Serves 6.

    I caution that I’ve never personally made this recipe, but it certainly sounds as if it would be yummy!

  10. Hi, Loma!

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I wonder if it’s too late to pick the ones still on the quince bushes and give it a try?? Orange and quince sounds very good to me! I just had fig and orange marmalade over Christmas and that was delicious! I’m getting hungry just thinking of these delights. I may have to make some nice muffins and report back!

    Kathryn xox

  11. Kathryn, Stunning work. Your pictures are as generous as your spirit and words. And as a newly baptised disciple of the magic of Quince, all that that photo stirred to the top of the discussion is an especially delicious treat. Thank you for playing along on the assignment and for sharing the results!

  12. Hi, David! Welcome! I’m honored! It’s a humble contribution through a new and different lens. May I continue to expand how I look at the world by examining the lovely visions of others. Thank you for stopping by and please do come again!


  13. you always find a way to add humor to anything you write. i love it! at least you found a way to get me to read something! Ha Ha

  14. Hi, Juana! Glad you visited! Kathryn xox

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