Mid-January is a difficult time for gardeners. On many days, the weather is too inclement to actually get outside and work in the garden, even in the relatively mild climate where I live. Many gardeners resort to dreaming and planning over the colorful seed catalogs that fill our mailboxes at this time of year. Others read books or draw up complicated plans for new beds and other additions and improvements they will make to their gardens. But by mid-January, I'm well-past all of that and looking for new ways to entertain myself. I'm looking for signs of the coming spring, something to relieve the winter that has settled over my heart. Slowly, I'm finding a few of those signs.
Yesterday, a beautiful sunny mid-winter day, I found a green anole who was spread out, sunning himself atop the outdoor air-conditioning unit. I hadn't encountered any of these little lizards since our latest freeze and it made me smile to see him there.
Walking around the yard, I saw that the old hydrangeas had weathered the freeze and now have green buds. Likewise, my ancient apple tree has fat buds that look as though they are just waiting for the signal to open up. Near the tree, I encountered a hopeful honeybee, but there's not much blooming in my yard right now to tempt him. There are a few premature blossoms on the blueberries, so perhaps he found them to give him sustenance for another day.
On another recent day in the yard, I met a Question Mark butterfly on the Carolina jessamine. The jessamine hasn't bloomed yet, although it, too, is full of buds, but the butterfly had settled on the south side of the vine, away from the cold wind and was spreading its wings in the sun. My yard is full of butterflies in summer and fall, but it seemed odd to see this little critter there on such a cold day. These butterflies, though, are actually active in winter here, something to brighten our gardens and give us hope - just as the apple tree and hydrangea buds, the blueberry blossoms, the honeybee and the anole do. Something to remind us that spring will arrive in its own good time to relieve the winter in our hearts.