Monday, November 15, 2010

Nippy Ol' Jack Frost

So far, this November has been nothing but frosty nights, glorious days and especially silvery mornings here at Blooming Hill. Even though it's been a little too warm for roasting chestnuts, at least during the daylight hours, Jack Frost is certainly making his presence known by not only nipping at our noses but also, nipping around the gardens during the "wee" hours.  Every day last week, I awoke to a light sugar frosted coating on the ground as well as the plants and trees. Even the greenhouse, with it's steamy windows and shrouded in mist, looked magical in the early morning light, thanks to the intricate artistry of Jack Frost, and, maybe a little help from Mother Nature's own portfolio of water colors.

The last hold-outs of the blooming season have been especially vibrant and seem to enjoy their "powdery-puff" blush as well. They look just as lovely, dusted in frost, as they did when they were first planted way back in April and May.  Although now more bold and mature, the mauve-pink mums to the midnight blue petunias still vie for as much attention as they can demand yet seem serene, clothed in lacy ice crystals.  In the language of flowers, petunias are double-edged.  They can either convey resentment and anger or say, "Your presence soothes me."  Jack Frost's handy work on their petals is certainly soothing on these chilly mornings while the chrysanthemums, in general, reflect cheerful perfection as their meaning applies.

And, the autumn color?   Well, just like the "Ever Ready Bunny,"  it keeps on going and going. Jack Frost seems especially intent on preserving the brilliant reds down to the last leaves still clinging to the trees!  Set against the clear blue sky of the early morning, the textures of the garden are accentuated by the icy moisture of late autumn and it is evident that Jack stays up late into the evenings, working under the stars painting picture perfect frosty mornings that lead to high-def afternoons, as only he can do...what an artist!

The legend of Jack Frost, beyond what we see in holiday cartoons, originates in Scandinavia, although he is claimed by Russian folklore as well.  Probably not a big surprise, when you think about it, given the frosty climates of both Northern Europe and Northern Russia.  Since my heritage is Swedish and German, I'm going to stick to the Scandinavian version in this blog entry.  Jack, or "Jokul Frosti," some kind of elfish creature, was so named by the Vikings and means "Icicle Frosting."   Jack was, and still is, credited for the beautiful, almost etched-like patterns we see sprinkling our windows, ground, plants and leaves during the winter months anywhere in the world.  Of course, somebody had to name him, because he is quite a talented fellow, carefully painting each blade of grass and flower petal with his very special paint brushes dipped in frosty white.

Whether you picture him as "nipping" or "painting" at the garden foliage and structures, that's for you to decide.  It's a personal thing and all any of us can do at this time of the year is enjoy his artistry as he transforms the garden palette from warm to cool colors.  For me, seeing his work up close and personal, I think he cannot possibly be a nasty little elf that some may want to portray him as, but more like a gentle, creative soul giving warning of harsh weather in our midst, in his own unique and beautiful style.

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