Winter Beauty


Indonesian cherry tree in “deep midwinter.”

Despite chilly breezes that make the wind chimes tinkle, and despite the fact that the porch is too cool for pleasant sitting–despite the calendar reminding us it’s January, the Indonesian cherry tree is in full bud. One day there was only a hint of pink along the gray branches. Two days later magenta buds like French knots were embroidered against a blue sky. Today it is coming into its glory and its neighbor the Japanese magnolia is starting to bud too.

January in Southwest Georgia can be cold and wet, and one may even see snowflakes swirl every few years. I like cold weather. I like hearing wind moaning around the corner of the house at night. I like getting cold and warming by a cozy fire. I like wearing sweaters and scarves and jackets.

But bright flowers, buds on the trees, the scent of green, a clear blue sky–yes, I like all of these too!

The camellias bloomed all through Christmas. Some of them are “going back” (a funny expression: back to where!) but others are still cheerfully bright–varying shades of pink, vibrant red, and ruffled white. Sunflower plants are growing under a bird feeder in what is supposed to be our mint bed. Pansies, which usually do best in cooler weather, are smiling somewhat feebly, but still smiling. The “yesterday, today, tomorrow” plant has a new look every day, whether more yesterdays, todays, or tomorrows. Even the roses are blooming, although sparingly. It’s time to prune them but it goes against the grain to prune anything while it’s blooming. Much to my surprise, I found one hibiscus bloom hiding from the cold on the backside of a bush.

I thought I should report there are no ground flowers, no bluets or tiny nameless yellow flowers, no violets. But when I walked around the yard (excuse me, Brits, the garden), I found four violets. There were four white violets crowded close to each other as if for company. On each one, amongst other petals, was one marked by fine brush strokes of purple.

We can look at all these lovely blooms and shudder to think how brown they may be in a few days when a frost hits. But I see them as brave and willing to take a risk in order to bring beauty in the “deep midwinter.”

We are mourning this week with a family whose wife and mother died of Parkinson’s. It is an emotional wintertime for them. I pray they will find comfort in seeing camellias blooming. The girls’ mother took such joy in the beauty of camellias and loved to share them with others. As her pastor said, she didn’t want to be defined by Parkinson’s but rather by her love of the Lord and her love of sharing.

Winter, wherever it finds you, like all the seasons, can be beautiful.

Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11

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