Kitchen Garden

Winter Thy Name is Denial

Squirrel Nest

What does a gardener do when winter arrives?

Despite the fact there’s snow on the ground, IT’S NOT WINTER! Please check back Dec. 21 for winter programming.

The apple harvest is finished and priorities shifted. While our orchard’s chief apple officer may favor kicking back creek-side for a post-season draw of Jameson Irish Whiskey, after apple season a home gardener must get busy doing everything neglected in better weather.

The inbox — digital and physical — overflows with unattended mail, outdoors work remains if snow melts and we get a few days of dry warmth. There’s laundry to do, winter reading to arrange, apples to preserve, a house to clean, and cars to winterize — a whole life compressed between first snowfall and January. Any remaining goals for the year need prompt action. November and early December can be a frantic rush to the finish line.

As leaves fell from deciduous trees a squirrel nest revealed itself high in our maple tree. I’ve hoped for this many years. What was a vacant, treeless place when we arrived in Big Grove has become a habitat. Wildlife sighting is frequent. In addition to newly resident squirrels, birds, foxes, raccoons, opossums, field mice and voles, deer, and every other type of animal native to the area shows up here and return. When I spend time in the garden or look through our windows to the yard I feel the community even if I’m the only human around.

I have a bottle of Jameson purchased years ago. It sits in a crate unopened because I have been too busy for kicking back and sipping. Maybe I need to take a lesson from the orchard operator and relax for a while. At least before accepting that winter will arrive and all that means.