First Comes Winter: Get a Rake.

by Debbie Naples.

Noise and death normally don’t go together in most people’s minds. In most people’s minds, death is a startling unending silence, an infinite pause, a landscape of deafness…death has no sound. Unless you consider the leaf blower and dead leaves, and the wood chipper and dead trees, and the tree stump and the chain saw…death attracts noise and machines in this century like no other grim reaper ever did. In Egypt professionals were hired to howl and mourn, there was so little noise of torment back then.

The howling screams of the dead or how a leaf blower can rend silence into fragments all the way into December is one thing, and then comes the snow blower, and if you are Scrooge, the Christmas carolers.

But that’s it. Meanwhile it’s winter and it’s quiet. The big wide heart of the sun has withdrawn and fails to melt the icebergs that seem to appear everywhere, the flowers are dead, sleeping, covered in snow, kept in greenhouses or your actual house. The Winterberry is bright red and shining in the parking lot, the rustle of leaves is gone, tree bark is exposed, the whisper of grass is a dream….The wind sweeps the snow and rolls over the desiccated gardens, all there is to hear is a hiss or a distant whistle. No trumpets blare at the rose glow sunrise of January or the orange burn of twilight…just quiet. Everyone fun is hibernating: dancing bears, cosmos, daises, water features, lily leaf beetles; everyone is either in bed or dead.

That’s winter. Unless you are human, and then you must find ways other than the ski slopes to imbibe the joyousness of cold freezing single digit temperatures and greet each day with a smile on your face. And so….

The ‘winter-interest’ or ’bitter-winter-interest’ shrubs are in full use. The red twig dogwood, with its red twigs…the Kerria japonica with its insanely bright green stems, insane in contrast to the brown gray white collection in the yard, and the pines among other nonbrowning plants. Still the silence is deafening.

Though most plant life, beyond the evergreens, that has not disintegrated, is clinging  to the vine with small plant claws in an earth as hard as granite, the beauty of twisted dead things, like Hellenic statues, faces contorted in agony and age, hopefully becomes apparent,… or else you go to the pub and eagerly await the vernal equinox.


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