winter green

16/01/2011

I was walking the dogs through a little wood up the road from our house, and was struck by all the new shades of green that emerge from winter’s palette. In this semi-arid climate, mosses are almost non-existent in the warmer months, but in the relative damp of winter a soft carpet emerges beneath the trees and fills the eye.

moss in the woods

I squatted down in the wood and looked more closely. In addition to the hardy scrubby moss that lasts most of the year, a lush mattress of bright green and ochre has grown along the path and over the rocks and fallen branches. This is interwoven with a lacy silvery-green growth that serves to enhance the acidic colours of the new moss. I put my hand onto a bed of this moss and felt the luxury of its cushion, several centimetres deep. I wanted to lie down there like a woodland creature and watch the branches overhead move in the wind.

People who live here decry the winter; they say things like “making it through” as if great suffering is required. True, winter is a lot of hard work for most of us (don’t worry, we’re not going to have the Firewood Conversation) and we don’t have the unifying plague of tourists to both nourish and outrage; our gardens are stilled, our trees dormant, all of our visitors have gone home.

olive trees in winter

The vineyards are in stasis and the hard work of trimming is underway, exposing the twisted, silvery-black stumps of the vines and the red earth, the white rocks.

The warmer months are a riot of colour here: the bright new green of the vines in the Spring, the lush deep leafiness of summer, the wild persian patchwork of autumn. But it is in winter that the colours reflect more truly the spirit of this landscape–the transient growths have fallen away to reveal the earth, the trees, the grasses in their essential state. Soft greys and tans and silvers overtake the view; new greens and yellows of lichen and moss emerge; the slant of the sun pierces with greater clarity.

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One Response to “winter green”

  1. gigi said

    lovely. you’ve described not only your little ‘winter room’ in all it’s truest beauty, but have somehow touched on how i feel about my time in life.
    i treasure it.

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