One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."


You might have heard, we’re getting snow for New Year’s Eve.  

It sounds like its a fairly common condition in the northeast, too.  I hear snow may be abbreviating First Night celebrations in Boston and bringing the usual wintery challenges to the brave souls in New York’s Times Square.   We’re expecting six to eight inches of snow…and as I write this, winds have begun to howl outside in the snowy dark.   It’s hard to type and keep my fingers crossed, so I’ll just do it in my head, with hopes that I can complete this post without losing power.


Although originally forecast to begin in the wee hours of the morning, I was enjoying a bowl of oatmeal (I know there’s at least five of you who’ll be quite pleased to hear I’m making “taking breakfast more seriously” one of my resolutions this New year)and looking out the dining room door’s windows when the first flakes began to drift out of the sky this morning.  

I was happy for the later start to the storm, since it meant I could follow through on an idea I’d had.   I knew I should spend a fair bit of the day in the office, but I also was hoping to squeeze in one more visit with Nature before the year drew to a close.   And so I bundled up with an extra layer or two and struck out to try the walk to work from the Nest.   The bike trail passes just the other side of the Courthouse (adjacent to our backyard), and ends up just down the street from the restaurant, so its a pretty direct shot for me, though I hadn’t imagined making the trip that way ’til spring.

The trip going in was easy, with just a quarter to a half inch of snow on the ground already.  Yes, once it started the snow was coming pretty hard and fast…and I was coated in a thin layer of white when I arrived at work half an hour later.


Still, I always enjoy walking or biking along the trail, partly because it lets me imagine what it might’ve been like to look at the long-ago landscape of the Cape from the windows of a passenger train.   Even in the snow, I enjoyed the journey.   It was a nice chance to think about the year drawing to a close.  Aren’t we all spending a little time thinking about the Year That’s Been?    There’s plenty I’d like to forget about the year but there was much to celebrate, too.


Oh, I can hear you piping up now, like Fred Savage in The Princess Bride, “Hey, Greg.   What about this blog-holiday you’ve been on.  Didn’t you do some celebrating in Connecticut?”  

Yes, yes we did.   And definitely, one of my favorite things about 2008 was the bit where I spent Christmas with my family.   I do have a few photos to share, now that you mention it.

One of the terrific things about this Christmas (although I know there were more than a few of you who’d have done happily with fewer travel complications due to winter weather, and to you I apologize, but) was that there was snow on the ground…it was a white Christmas for a change.   I understand it had all melted away on the Cape by the 25th, but in Connecticut, it lingered long enough to make a pretty background for the special shiny day, a classy bit of set dressing for a traditional celebration.


Here’s the table for Christmas Eve dinner, which my sister Sue and her husband Joe hosted.   This was the Infinite Italian Christmas Eve feast which is tradition for Joe’s family.   I’d heard about it for years, but this was the first time I’ve had the pleasure of participating.  


I understand this was a slightly abbreviated version of the meal’s many courses this year, but it was still a marathon meal, with us sitting down at the table around 5:30 p.m. and – except for a short break after the main course – getting up from the table about ten minutes before midnight.  Considering my recent culinary adventures at Sara and Dan’s wedding, brunch at the View and of course Thanksgiving, marathon meals are something I have a little experience with lately…so I wasn’t frightened or anything.  In fact, it was fun…maybe especially the nearly endless antipasto (dessert goes without saying, of course…).

To be fair, we weren’t constantly eating.   There was plenty of great conversation and laughs and general good times…but oh, my, there was plenty of food.  Really great food.   Cold cuts, cheeses, olives, pickled cod and eggplant, peppers stuffed with prosciutto, more cheese, bread, pasta, meatballs, sausage, more bread, wine and champagne…and then death by Chocolate, and cookies and peppermint bark and chocolates and fruit, and fruit dipped in chocolate…and coffee (decaf, but by then, who cared!).   Whooo

I’m afraid I was a bit distracted by the food and the whole experience, though, and I feel a little badly that I didn’t think to organize a group photo of everyone present.   We had a terrific time and I would’ve enjoyed having more photos of the evening.   God Bless Us, Every One.


We got home to Mom and Dad’s well after midnight to find our little orange friend under the Christmas tree.  He was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Mister Claus as we let our meals settle in front of a late-night TV showing of A Christmas Story, before turning in for our long winter’s naps.




As you might guess, not having any children (or eager pups) in the house this  year, we were happy to sleep in a little…though a lovely morning awaited us when we did rouse ourselves from sleep.   Once again, I was enjoying myself so much I forgot to take more photos. 

However, I did capture a few, like this one from our Christmas dinner table.   The tree (not the one with the lights) is actually molded butter.   I suppose I ought to be a little chagrined about my eating habits, since I did note that I seemed to be the only one who actually shaved a little off the side.


We all received a fun assortment of great presents…my gift highlights including a new toolbox and some great tools (including a gardening implement I’ll be featuring some other time!), an MP3 player, Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling and some terrific clothes(the Me of my childhood would be so disappointed to hear me excited about such things), but also a Justice League coloring book.  

I think at least half the fun, though, is seeing what everyone else gets and watching their reactions and so on. 


Ironically, while we had plenty of entertainment from amongst the new gifts – like the Racing Nuns or the digital kaleidoscope or the Ugly Doll or the Sarcastic Ball – it was a gift from many Christmases Past that held our attention long into the evening.  

Over dinner, we learned that Mom’s furby had sort of freaked out one of the movers by talking from within his box during the migration to Connecticut back in September.   It turned out that the Furby was in an as-yet-unopened box of dolls and such, and so we liberated him, gave him some fresh batteries and woke him up for a holiday visit, which kept us laughing until the end of the day.



Above you can see the more traditional photograph of Mom and Dad’s Christmas tree.   To the right is another photo I took of it, while playing around with the settings on the camera a little.

Sorry to say I had to leave to return to the Cape on Boxing Day, since we had a full weekend of events scheduled at work.   This meant I wasn’t able to attend the annual Rhode – Cummings Family Cousins Brunch, which I’ve heard was great fun and highly memorable, just like always. 

Maybe next year.   


my-buddy-with-remoteAs much fun as it was to be with the family for Christmas, I was also happy to get back home to the Nest.  

After all my recent adventuring, I was feeling like I hadn’t spent enough time with my gray buddy with the thousand names lately.   (You know, Badum…aka, Bagheera, aka Mister Purrypants, aka, Buddy, aka The Gray Catsby…and so on…we all understand that it will simply never do for a feline to have only the one name...)

I’d given him a present or two before heading out of town (he’s quite fond of the motion sensitive catnip-stuffed birdy that chirps when you bat it…or when you step on it in the dark in the middle of the night…), but I returned with presents from the cousin cats, too and once I’d unpacked the car, the two of us sat down and had a regular Nip-fest, with catnip mice and catnip fish and catnip bubbles…and – carrying on the tradition of still enjoying gifts from past years – we broke out the 2007 catnip Santa on a stick toy, too.   It was loads of fun.

And so there I landed, smack in that Boxing Day world of Between Christmas and New Years.   We had a few days of what the folks at the Weather Channel like to call “abundant sunshine”, which was pretty darned delightful and had rainbows dancing all over the living room walls. 


There were more Christmas cards to reply to and music files to load onto my new toy…and post-Christmas sales to check out, where I picked up a nice solar-powered string of LEDs, which I’ve hung along the underside of the porch railing.  It’s nice to have just a little light out there at night and they do a good job of that.  

And look!   The amaryllis bulb I potted up just before leaving town had greened up nicely and begun to push up leaves during the three days I was out of town.  Early signs of a good growing season ahead.


The end of the afternoon found me walking through much deeper snows on the way home.  It’d been snowing steadily all afternoon and as the light began to fade the winds were kicking up pretty fiercely, so there was some drifting.   But I still found it to be pretty exhilerating to be out walking in it all.  

I was happily bundled against the cold and it was kind of fun to be blazing the trail in some places.  I even had a pretty sweet New Year’s Eve omen.   As I crossed the bridge over Route 6, I happened to glance up and saw a Great Blue Heron flying by overhead.   The poor thing certainly less pleased to be flying in the weather than I was walking through it.  Still, as unhappy as it may’ve been, I’m not accustomed to seeing them this time of year and it was at least as graceful and magnificent to see as always.


I’m truly glad to be at the end of this particular year.    There are more than a few things I am happy to leave behind as 2008’s page is torn off the wall.    The past twelve months have seen many frustrations, unpleasant surprises, disappointments and heartaches.  

But I can’t look back at the last twelve months without also seeing plenty of good.  I learned more about plants…and about people…and how each of them grow.  There were days filled with sunshine and laughter and flowers.   I’ve spent plenty of time in the company of friends, old and new, animal and human.   There’ve been walks in the marsh or through the woods, along the shore, around the block or in the city.   Did I mention the flowers!?!

I’ve discovered new friendships, something I suppose I do every year.  I’ve also renewed a lot of old friendships this year, which is always sweet.  I am given lately to wondering if friends aren’t the fondest souvenirs you can carry away from any given year.


Of course it’s an artificial thing, this man-made business of time-keeping, of days and years and such, but I do like the idea of January being a blank slate, a fresh page on which to write one’s life anew.


For that reason, it seems especially appropriate that we’re seeing in the New Year here on Cape Cod with something of a blizzard.  Tomorrow morning…next year…we will look out of windows onto a world of white, a physical embodiment perhaps, of the blank page that 2009 brings each one of us.

I’m passing on champagne tonight, since it often goes unfinished with me and opted for Asti Spumante, instead.  At the package store, they clued me to to St. Germain, which is a french licquer made of elderflowers to flavor sparkling wine.   It sounded like a great way for this gardener to ring in a new year.

Welcome 2009!   Bring us your light.   And your dark.   Your highs and lows.    We will do our best to meet your challenges, to take what lessons we can from the year just behind us and see how they apply to whatever lies ahead.   

With luck…and a few good friends beside us…this new one will be a year we look back on fondly, a year when maybe we learned a few things and had a few laughs and weren’t hurt too badly and smelled a few flowers and maybe pet a  kitty or something.  

Oh, and rainbows…I wish you a year full of rainbows!    

Happy New Year!!!



Comments on: "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy New Year’s" (16)

  1. Happy New Year, Greg

  2. i hope the new year brings to you much love, laughter and joy.

  3. I love looking at the world through your eyes, dear one. You capture so much of what is invaluable. Sending you lots of love and hugs to share with Kerplunk.

  4. Happy All Year, sweetie. The future brings new experiences in which to grow and share. May this be the best year yet.

  5. Great photos to capture the season’s aura. Glad to hear about your breakfast resolution. Just keep Anita Bryant outta your head! ;-) May the new year bring you good health and happiness! :-D

    OMG, It could be I hadn’t even thought about how AB might’ve subverted my breakfast interests all those years ago…damn her…

  6. Happy and Bloomy New Year, Greg! I hope to see more cheerful and ever-interesting updates from your garden!

  7. Glad your celebrations were good. may they continue.
    Rainbows and blessings on you (and us all) in this new year, full of hope.

    Shalom, Blessings, and Cheers.

  8. Greg! Here’s wishing you peace and happiness and everything you need plus lots of fun little bonuses throughout the year. (And a couple scratches around the ears to Mister Purrypants, as well!)

  9. Totally a pleasant post. You might like the Nov. 26th (?) post of she posts about the start of the holiday drinking season and has a recipe with the flower extract stuff you mentioned…
    How was it? My husband always doctors our wonderful bubbly (dry) with Chambord. Should I entertain him with this new “mixer”?
    Peace in 2009 to you.

    I liked the St. Germaine. Nice flavor…might work better in dry champagne, since it was a sweet addition to the already-sweet Asti. Still, a tasty way to see in the new year.

    I bet Chambord’s nice, too.

  10. I prefer the sweet Asti to the dry Champagne myself. The St.Germaine sounds intriguing.

    Beautiful pictures of snowy landscape! And a wonderful entry with great insight and reflection.

    What a beautiful table setting for the Christmas Eve dinner! The plates are festive and they all match! The silverware seems to be all there, a complete matching set! I’m enthralled.

  11. I’ve never commented here but I miss you like crazy when you’re gone! Welcome back! I hope 2009 is everything you wish for.

    Hi Pam!! Thanks so much for your comment!! Best wishes for this new year to you, too!!

  12. Happy New Year Greg! Glad you had a good Christmas…thanks for taking us on your snowy walk with you…sigh…missed the Cape for more than a minute there…and keep these wonderful blog posts coming. Yours was one of the , dare I say :o}, most inspirational posts I’ve read all year. You are even more eloquent than usual!! Thanks *elaine*

  13. Snow? Nope not getting any of that stuff here in Canada. (He he) Nice pics Greg and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

  14. Happy New Year, my friend! I suspect I’m one of the five who is delighted to hear you’re taking breakfast seriously. I don’t know what kind of omen seeing a GBH flying in a blizzard is, but I’d say on the whole it’s a pretty hopeful one. So let’s go with that. I note that Kerplunk has control of the remote. I guess we know who is alpha at the nest. Not that it comes as much of a surprise.

    Hey, Pal! Yes, I was figuring you for one of those five! It’s working out pretty well, too.

    I saw the heron at a moment when I was starting to think trudging thru the drifting snow hadn’t been my brightest idea…so his flight encouraged me! And yes, you know who runs this Nest. ; )

  15. Greg you silly, you just made me tear up. I know I’m reading it a fortnight late but this is such a beautiful summing up of what the new year brings that I’m feeling it all anew. Your description of the endless Italian Christmas dinner has left me with my mouth watering and the pictures of snowbound Cape Cod are gorgeous as ever. I’m going to stop my reading backward exercise now and have some lunch, but thank you for sharing all your warmth, wit and wisdom, and the beauty you see all around you.

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