December already

November has disappeared into a haze of flu. Don’t ask.

But now I’m getting back to noticing the world I can see a few fuchsia flowers still hanging on in the garden and, in the back corner, yellow winter jasmine blooming away. Tiny flowers to lighten the gloom out there. On the other side are some remaining pyracantha berries – the ones on the end of the branches that are a little harder for the robins to reach.

One morning as I took the garbage cans down the drive I noticed a tiny green shoot of a spring bulb, tulip I think, poking through the soil. It’s rather early, but very welcome as all the rest of the garden and the parks are in hibernation.

The problem with hibernation or dormancy is that you can’t usually see it.  All you can do is remember that there used to be leaves and flowers and bees and butterflies. All you can see is their absence, and you really can’t see absence. There is just a kind of quiet drab poverty in our gardens and parks in December. There is the occasional squirrel, a few crows, some juncos and chickadees and a thundering herd of bush tits. I see lots of wet leaves, patches of needles and small branches blown down from the Douglas firs. There are ducks and gulls beside the river and yesterday a couple of immature bald eagles.

We can notice the cathedral architecture of the trees with the damp, vivid green moss on their trunks. But much of the magic of nature is dormant. And then I go for a walk down beside a stream and I see the pointed stumps of young alders. Freshly chewed. Beavers! Hard at work. But where is the dam? We are very close to major roads and bridges and I worry that the geniuses who look after such things will do what they do best – destroy.

Maybe just once, for Christmas, they could let the beavers home remain.


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