A patch on the hubby's Scout uniform.
Perhaps you are unaware of the Boy Scout motto. And you are wondering just what it has to do with a wintertime survival list for gardeners. Having lived with an Eagle Scout for nigh on eleven years, I have picked up this much: "Be prepared." Now, I don't know how to tie any of those fancy-shmancy knots, I don't have a pocket knife, and my firestarting tends to involve a lighter of some kind, but I have found that when I am prepared, I am not (as) afraid, so I am going to apply the Boy Scout motto to that trial of trials (at least for northern gardeners), winter.
Perhaps you are wondering just why it is sometimes termed "old man" winter. Me, too. I have been thinking about the wonderful qualities of some elderly men I know and I don't think those qualities apply to the term. No, probably more like "stubborn old cuss" or "hornery, mean, son of a gun", you get the idea. Or just picture Clint Eastwood in any of his movies. "Do [you] feel lucky punk? Well, do ya?" A really cold winter, with a furious north wind that (skip ahead, squeamish ones) freezes your boogers when you inhale through your nose and dries the moisturizer right off your face, that's old man winter. I should add, he sucks the hope right out of a despondant gardener waiting for spring and the first green, growing thing. To aid my sanity and arm myself against such an entrenched and ancient foe, I have devised a short list of survival techniques that get me through the really tough months. For me here in Alaska, those challenging months are January and Febuary.
Part of my home garden library: bliss!
1. garden books and magazines: Sometimes I will find myself staring at the same picture for a few minutes, daydreaming I am actually there.
My skis making an appearance with one of the "moose-repelling" pinwheels I've written about in other posts.
2. outdoor activities: I don't actually hate winter, so I am learning to do things like ice skate and cross-country ski. I've also set a goal to be outside twice a week doing something with the family. We'll see how it goes....
Working on a post for the blog.
3. blog: A fun, new (for me) way of chronicling my garden adventures. I also enjoy reading/checking out pictures on other blogs, and learning about other gardens/gardeners, too.
My smelly soccer bag.
4. pursuing new interests: Over various winters, I have taken up indoor soccer, sewing, and singing in a choir (I'm an alto).
5. refining my "gotta-have-it" plant list: I could do this for hours, and I often do. Much to my own annoyance, I tend to use scraps of paper and sticky notes and once, in Seattle at a flower show, I used a napkin. Very classy and organized, no?
Beautiful, yes. Bleak, yes.
I prepare myself for the bleak months by trying to fill time spent not gardening, with other productive, edifying, and enjoyable activities. I fully realize every gardener and climate is a bit different, so I ask: What are the tough months where you garden? And how do you cope?