A season’s greetings

Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Here in the northeast, brilliant fall colors decorate September and October days, lending yellows, reds, oranges, and purples to the palette of lived landscapes throughout the region. But after the hayrides end and the last of the apples are collected for cider, locals watch a new phenomenon emerge against the backdrop of November and December. It’s stick season. For some, it’s a time to button up the house and retreat inside. For others, it’s hunting season, spent outdoors for hours on end. For tree lovers, it’s a moment to relearn your forests. Against the clear backdrop of a bright blue sky or an animated cloudscape of a wintery day, we see the architecture of trees shine through our backyards, parks, streetscapes, and forested roads. Looking up, we follow robust trunks as they thin to stout limbs and trace them to the taper of branches and twigs that collect ice and snow. We see bird nests and squirrel dreys revealed in the crook of branches; we find new woodpecker holes or the remnants of a wasp nest. We see the scars of a summer storm that took down a branch; we note where a tree grew another whorl.

Before we shift to the trails of big winter storms and sub-zero temperatures, we get a moment to see the structure of something built to stand the test of the seasons. Around the holidays in particular, as many of us welcome trees into our homes, we become much closer to trees, marveling at how they prepare for winter, for darkness, and for cold. A clear divide appears; some trees shed their leaves to prepare for the weight of winter, while others retain an ability to bend and droop as snow collects on green needles. Some trees will succumb to ice, wind, and weather, but most will not. They will store their strength until spring, when, as sure as the sun shines, they will burst again into brilliant buds and fragrant flowers.
Knowing trees as winter begins connects us to the changes ahead, reminds us to look up and look forward, and keeps us tied to the place that supports these towering organisms through the coldest and darkest nights. Within nature and ourselves, a season’s greetings are always a sight to behold, lifting spirits while we transition to a new year.
Photo / Photo Credit:
Sunset and trees on North Street, East Montpelier. Credit: Joanne Garton
Social media URL(s):
Vermont Urban & Community Forestry webpage: vtcommunityforestry.org/
Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Facebook: www.facebook.com/vtucf/
Vermont Urban & Community Forestry YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCg18FS7nCMLoGgq6rQ6ATUg
Author, Author title and any contact information:
Joanne Garton, Technical Assistance Coordinator for the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program, joanne.garton@vermont.gov