We started this year thinking the winter would be mild. Many days I had the front door to the studio open. Now we have another fiery icy mid-winter to add to the memory banks. It seems to hit around Valentines’ Day. I am grateful for beautiful flowers from dear husband.

When the power goes out, as it did just after this photo, gratitude visits again for our trusty wood stove and the wood from Sunwise Farm and Sanctuary forests of locust. I asked him to take this picture of a new necklace and bracelet I made with the antique Russian Blue and periwinkle Venetian beads. What lovely gifts from him. What a lovely gift he is.

KO'B with valentine roses

KO’B with valentine roses

fire graciously warming, ©Kathleen O'Brien

fire graciously warming, ©Kathleen O’Brien

Everyone was fascinated by the ice encrustations. Everything that was exposed had a thicker than I’ve ever seen covering. In the unheated greenhouse the spinach happily, slowly grew and fed us. Miraculously the ice protected my Rosemary. When it thawed days later it was as good as new.

Iced Rosemary, ©Kathleen O'Brien

Iced Rosemary, ©Kathleen O’Brien

The view out the front door of the studio gave an air of being in a liminal reality. Neither here nor there. Neither far nor near. Neither up nor down. There was no sound whatsoever, as there was no wind to splinter the bent limbs who were hanging on for dear life. The bamboo became  “real forests” (like the Velveteen Rabbit became real) when they gracefully bowed down towards each other. Crusted over the leaf tops with ice, they offered sanctuary to birds who had come back, our little deer herd, a skunk. Live and let live. I felt like I was on a smooth sailing ship. Kathleen O’Brien Studio becomes an ice breaker.

Bamboo graciously bending, ©Kathleen O'Brien

Bamboo graciously bending, ©Kathleen O’Brien

Meanwhile inside I continued on my secret body of work, that I’ve been calling Alexander’s Library. These painting were started when the sun seemed to have conquered the winter, before the ice.

Sun Book components, ©Kathleen O'Brien

Sun Book components, ©Kathleen O’Brien

Returning to the house I was stopped in my tracks at the astounding beauty of the winter garden. Since I take many pictures of the pretty parts of gardening in spring and summer, it seemed respectful to notice the structures that hold the plants in their sleep and the soil underneath that’s resting.

Winter Garden, ©Kathleen O'Brien

Winter Garden, ©Kathleen O’Brien

That got us in the mood to get out some of our new seeds and start to plan. We ordered early, as gardening has become more popular, some seeds are sold out already. One afternoon was spent organizing our box of seeds from last year and those saved from our plants. We mixed up a bowl of seeds saved from much longer ago tossed them in a newly developed area out front saying “good luck to whatever is viable” and then were entertained by watching the birds find them.

seed packs

seed packs

I wish this photograph showed the dazzling diamond appearance of the ice on all the trees when the sun came back. It was still so cold, everything still frozen but everywhere I looked it was a faery land of surprise and sparkle. That was when we drove to town to TJ’s for food and Sunflowers, yellow calla lilies to celebrate the sun.

shiny sun dazzling and making shadows

shiny sun dazzling and making shadows

sunflowers to celebrate emergent sun and subsequent melting, ©Kathleen O'Brien

Sunflowers to celebrate emergent sun and subsequent melting, ©Kathleen O’Brien

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