Text by Tovah Martin
Even when it’s buried, the garden never truly slumbers. That’s what I learned from consciously applying all my senses throughout the year to my seven acres at Furthermore. Prior to plugging in, I would have declared winter as the dormant season in New England. I figured that winter was when you could simply push the snooze button and disconnect. Wrong! As soon as I stopped madly careening around, catering to the chores of gardening, and instead applied all my senses to the world I’d crafted by being a gardener, the subtleties were revealed. From the moment I started truly perceiving, the quiet season unfolded its multifaceted splendor. And I became an outspoken advocate campaigning for mindfulness. This winter, take time to loosen a muffler and put your nose to inhaling the scents of wood smoke and icicles riding the frigid air. When you walk by a bare naked tree, notice its sinuous bark. Listen to the sound of silence after a blizzard halts the comings and goings of the world for a few hours. Feel the blistering wind on your cheeks. Observe the rolling contours of the land and realize the tracery of your hardscape etched against the drifts. Winter tells you so much about the garden you’ve created. Listen.
I have always been a fanatical gardener. When I first came to this hunkered-down New England town 20-plus years ago, I dug deep and pretty much covered the land in gardens. The meadows, pastures, fields, berry gardens, shrub allées, perennial borders, vegetable beds, and herb gardens took over the land and my life in a never-ending infatuation that prompted me to ultimately name the place Furthermore because I could always find further projects to demand my attention. Then a friend pointed out that the world I had created was passing me by and going unsung. So I stopped to take stock of the treasures around me. Suddenly, being present to and appreciative of stimuli became a quest. And all sorts of treasures were uncovered.
In winter, the remnants of the growing season take on a new sense of importance. The sculptural silhouettes of seedpods step out as artwork when they are not competing with the rush of other impulses. Meanwhile, the minutiae step out to take a major role. The twist of a branch, the tracery of a leaf blown onto a frosty path, one sole floret scurrying across the snow—those are winter’s stories. Winter is about tidbits and snatches of glory. To harvest a frosty sage leaf and savor it as seasoning for a hearty meal; to hear a cardinal inviting its mate to nibble the shriveled berries from a shrub you planted—those are the gifts of winter. Winter is when your hard work provides sustenance for some tiny creature to survive yet another subzero night. Winter is when birds chirp in relish over the frozen kale tips unburied by the gale force winds. Even if you rushed through spring, summer, and autumn, winter forces you to stop in your tracks. Take that time to assess and access the land firsthand. Open your eyes, put your nose to the wind, reach out and touch winter. You will be awed, I guarantee.