~ Linda Singer

At this time of year, my feelings are greatly influenced by Thanksgiving. By now, those who grow vegetables and fruits have likely processed them for their winter use and enjoyment. I have no natural abilities in this aspect of gardening. It is a lot of work, and for me, the product never looks like the enticing image on the seed packet.

Memories of Poppies, pods, bees, and that “delicious” color.

I, too, preserve for winter time. All season long, I collect flowers, leaves, seeds, grasses, twigs, branches, and rocks. I “press” some (using a special press given to me by Frankie Tolman with a good supply of blotting paper), microwave some, process some with silica gel, and/or stash them away like a chipmunk into all corners of my home, even under the rug. This allows me to “garden” through the winter months through art projects.

Some of you may know that I collect art paper with the same enthusiasm as plants. So, many beautiful seed packets (and seeds) have also made their way into some of my paper and botanic creations. My projects may not appeal to the larger art market, but I get much satisfaction in the process, and winter just flies by. When spring arrives, I am often not quite ready to switch gears to once again meet the new season’s garden needs.

The connection between my flower garden, November gratitude, and my fascination with all things paper and botanic is the overwhelming beauty of the physical world, both manmade and natural. I am genuinely touched by our outdoor spaces, whether simple or grand, and am so thankful that these moments exist in my life. There is nothing I can make that comes close to the designs of Mother Nature, but the endeavor brings great joy. Success, for me, is experiencing the loss of my everyday self to one that feels more free, comfortable, and whole. Nature is a constant source of inspiration and an antidote to the sad events that color our lives and world. I am reminded of the gloriousness of our world, whether through its majestic mountain tops, ocean and sea scapes, wetlands, and yes, my own personal garden.

I have walked my garden almost daily since April. In May and June I have been excited by the ‘Lady Jane’ tulips (and disappointed that chipmunks ate every bulb after their flowering), by poppies exploding from their pods and saturating my eyes with the vibrancy of their color and delicacy of their petals, and by the romantic grandeur of my peonies, some with delightful fragrance. My mid-season garden was highlighted by daylilies of so many shapes and colors (some of which don’t quite blend), and by stately phlox. The late garden was packed with many subtleties along with bold-colored asters humming with bees. These memories, along with the use of my collected materials, will carry me through the winter months.

The outdoor natural garden is equally compelling to me. The early ‘pre- black fly’ walks to Silver Lake are marked by the emerging ferns magically uncoiling, and the leaves gently unfolding (as an amateur paper folder, I recognize that nature’s unfolding simply cannot be beat), creating shadows by the mostly unfiltered sun. Small water rivulets formed by melting ice and snow are music to my ears. Bird songs abound. I watch as the trees form their canopy. The light on the lake always changes, and the patterns on the water surface interests me to no end. If I am lucky, I see or hear a loon in the distance. By fall, I watch the mushrooms push through the forest floor. (In my enthusiasm, I once collected an entire basket of mushrooms, all of which Bert Wingerson told me were likely poisonous or not good to eat!) For me, the light streaming onto a fern or rock continually reinforces the supreme elegance of the natural world. Of course, I am now almost always with my camera! Here are a few of those moments that give me great gratitude.

Tulip “Lady Jane” took my breath away. Unfortunately, Chipmunks ate every bulb. I am GRATEFUL that Greg made me wire mesh packets so I can try again next year. Chipmunks beware!

The simple pleasure of the interplay of light and shadow and the color “gold” which always makes me feel happy, regardless of the season.

The beauty of a mushroom shining on a November afternoon walk.

Despite or because of the ice, this Japanese red maple is “hot” to me!! FYI, the color is not edited.

Morning in November with ice crystals everywhere…..

The beauty of this late flowering daisy, coated with ice, has transported me to my personal place of gratitude.

My new garden installation in the late November light. We are readying it for the winter ice and snow load burdens by dropping one side. My gardening year began with the microburst that demolished my installation, and I am VERY grateful that the project has been re-configured. It will be beautiful in winter, and spring should bring daffodils as well. I look forward to sharing it in person with you.

Gratitude for this view (with appreciation to Rob who singlehandedly installed this window) and my privilege to live here and enjoy my life in this special town.