It snowed last week, great sticky flakes swirling down from a dismal sky, fast enough to fill the puddles and choke the roads.  jack-knifed lorries closed off the village until late afternoon when my son and I ventured out nervously on the school run.  For a few hours the garden was an immaculate Christmas card image of sparkling white.  The mud, the old gate still waiting to be chopped up for firewood, the drifts of rotting leaves on the patio all gone – heaven.

It was a short respite from the gloom of being trapped indoors with a persistent tight chest and breathlessness left over from my illness in the summer.  Cold, rain and oceans of mud across our local footpaths mean that my daily walks have been pared down to a short circuit of the village. At times like this, remembering that nothing lasts for ever, that I am still recovering, that spring is inevitable and Covid will pass, is hard work.

It was a joy then to return today to some film that I took at the beginning of December, when the first day of Advent brought clear blue skies and the kind of sparkling air that makes you want gulp it down.  Returning from the school run I was greeted by a cheerful splash of blue at the foot of our front hedge, campanulas dancing in the icy breeze.  Above them, tiny pink rosebuds leant out across the archway. Instead of rushing inside to put on the kettle as usual I turned aside into the garden to see what other treats my garden had in store.  

Under the kitchen window a deep pink snapdragon was peering out from a thick canopy of nasturtium leaves.  Marigolds, cerinthe, lobelia and alyssum were still offering their nectar to any insects brave enough to come looking.  Beneath the currant bushes little mounds of primrose had woken from their brief summer hibernation and will bloom now through into the late spring.  Best of all, peeling back the papery husk of a physalis lantern I found a plump juicy fruit, buttery gold and deliciously tart; a rich reward for venturing back outdoors.

Once again my garden reminded me that when I get bogged down in daily worries and frustrations I need to narrow my focus, to look for the gift of beauty in small things. Drawn back to the wonder of the present moment by the dance of a flower I could then look up to the shreds of cloud passing high overhead, breathe deeply of the champagne air and regain some perspective.  I could tell myself in the words of Eliza Doolittle,

"Without your pulling it the tide comes in, without your twirling it the earth can spin, without your pushing them the clouds roll by . . ."

All things pass, even a Covid winter, and until the spring arrives, ‘A single rose can be my garden’.

 (Leo Buscaglia)

Visit my December garden virtually