Ice, Snow & A Bit Of Frost

Hydrangea In Ice

I owe all of you a great deal of thanks.  Your kind and supportive comments from the previous post about my health issues and having to leave my garden were appreciated in so many ways.  You and your words brought me great comfort. 

Near the end of that post, I wrote, “I’ve made another difficult decision — to take a very brief hiatus from posting as regularly as I have, to wait for those beams of light to be strong enough to burn through the fog, to get to Florida and figure out how a garden blogger blogs without a garden.

“And when all that happens, you will be the first to know, because inspiration often comes from the most unlikely of seeds.”

That inspiration came soon after your gifts of words arrived.  I was walking around the yard, tip-toeing through the areas of the garden that had re-appeared after a snowmelt and that’s when I noticed something.  There, just barely above the ground, under the oak tree, was another gift — the tiniest bit of green.

Hyacinth Emerging

I knelt down next to it, like an explorer who had stumbled upon an emerald that had managed to work its way to the surface — and the thought occurred to me that maybe this hyacinth was either beckoning me to stay with a taste of spring or wishing me well as I go in search of spring further south.

By the next day, my emerald was once again buried by an avalanche of snow — heavy snow, the kind that clings to every branch and catches in every fork of the trees.  With the white stuff piling up, there wasn’t much to do — other than wait for our chance to drive away and find spring.

Pee Gee Hydrangea In Snow

There was, though, a movie on cable television — Here On Earth — a coming of age tale where boy meets girl and that girl meets another boy.  As cliché as the plot line was, one aspect stood out — the characters all made reference to “Birches,” a poem by Robert Frost.

 “When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the line of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy’s been swinging on them.

But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay.

Ice storms do that . . .”

White Birch In Snow

And for days following the heavy snow, Frost’s words were in my head — especially as I marveled at the snow and ice still holding onto branches days after the storm.  In my rush to flee south in the window between storms, I paused to be inspired, to notice the beauty of morning sun illuminating the diamond clusters in the branches above and the sound of cracking ice as the temperature rose.


“Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust —

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.”


Soon, Joe and I were on I-95 and heading south in search of warmth and green, a mad dash to escape winter’s icy grip — a grip so strong that it held onto us until we were well south of Jacksonville, Florida.  And all along, there were Frost’s words — especially two lines near the end of his poem.

 “I’d like to get away from earth awhile

And then come back to it and begin over.”

I considered so much in those two lines.  I thought of my health issues, of my having to leave work and friends, of my Long Island garden, once again hibernating under a bed of white.  I thought of all of you — winter-weary gardeners and non-gardeners so eager for spring to arrive so you can all begin over.

I thought of the small tips of the hyacinth, buried under even more snow, yet confident that there will be a great melt and it will have the chance to greet spring in full aromatic bloom.

And its color?

Snow white, of course.


32 thoughts on “Ice, Snow & A Bit Of Frost

  1. We shall miss your frequent posts, but I for one will be ever anticipating any message to pop into my inbox from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man. Take all the time you need.

    • Hi Mario. I promise to pop in more frequently — but now that I’m in Florida and becoming more aware of my surroundings, I’m feeling the urge to explore and post. It’s a whole new gardening world down here. Be well — and stay warm!

  2. Glad to see your post also show up in my email! I know we will be hearing great stories from you with your new surroundings! I think you can move the writer from one geographical spot to another, but you can not stop the writer from being inspired! Go forth and write Nitty Gritty Man!!!!

  3. So glad to “hear” you again — your words thaw a winter’s worry. We will be patient for your next blog, and continue to wish you good health and great contentment wherever you settle.

  4. Hi, Kevin – so good to see this post this morning! Glad you got to Florida safely and are already finding inspiration! Your ice pictures are beautiful, but I think that will be last of their kind we will see for a long time! I now imagine raindrops glistening from branches, as the sun shines through following an afternoon shower! I know that, whatever Mother Nature places in front of you, you will be inspired to write and photograph, and that makes me happy, anticipating what I will see and read next! Be happy where you’re planted!

    • Hi Aunt Pat. Right now, the only rain I’ve seen is the kind that freezes and changes to snow. 🙂 So far, it’s been nothing but sun — and that ain’t bad. 🙂 Talk to you soon!

  5. I loved your photo of the white hyacinth! Their fragrance is heavenly. The only place that I see them in south Florida is at my Publix’s plant department. I just have to stop and inhale their scent! Some years, come spring, I purchase one of these potted bulbs to let them enhance my living room. Alas, they only last a short time in the warmth. Enjoy your time down here. I know you will.

    • Hi Mary. Hyacinths are one of the best smells of spring. On Long Island, I have a bed of them and when the wind blows, I can smell them throughout the yard. I’m pretty sure you can trick your bulbs — they just need a period of refrigeration. Or. . . you can buy fresh each year. Either way, enjoy the scent!

    • Hi Gwennie. I recently read that Florida is the only state in the country without snow — that fact alone makes me happy (and fortunate) to be here. Let the countdown to spring begin! Hope all is well with you.

      • Here in Belgium we haven’t had Winter so far, this has never ever happened ! We just had 5 or 6 extremely cold Winters with lots of snow and ice and this year, nothing apart from a few very light nightfrosts. I love it ! Mind you, we did get a LOT of rain and storm winds ! Never the less I look forward to Spring and Summer ! I envy you over there in sunny Florida !!! But I am glad you could escape this horrible Winter the US is experiencing at the moment ! Have fun and enjoy your stay !!!!

      • Hi Gwennie. I’ve watched the news about the storms Europe is getting. Drought in the American west, record cold and snow in the East, rain in Europe. Sounds a bit like climate change to me. Is this the new normal? I wonder what spring and summer will be like!

  6. It was great to see your post pop up in my e-mail this morning am am glad to hear that you are adjusting to Florida and exploring the gardening world done there. There isn’t much going on here…just a lot of snow and ice and weeks until any warm weather. I loved reading your beautifully written post and will look forward to when you post again when you are ready. Wishing you good health and happy exploring!

    • Hi Lee. A very weird thing starts to happen down here — you forget that the rest of the country is encased in snow and ice. It doesn’t seem possible, since there is so much green here. That being said — I’m sending you and all of my northern friends and family warm wishes. Thank you for your kind words and know that spring is on its way.

  7. I wish you the best Kevin in Florida. I pray you have better health. Florida does have very different plants. A client of mine asked for me to design their garden in Tampa and I refused because it is so different. Houseplants here are shrubs there. You must be glad to be away from all the ice and snow. More on the way tonight too.

    • Hi! Always great to hear from you. Different doesn’t even come close. What has been explained to me is that south Florida has two seasons. I’m not sure what they’re called, but I’m going to call them comfortable summer and hot summer. A lot to learn, but I’m up for the challenge. Stay warm and I hope the “thaw” doesn’t cause too much difficulty in your part of the country.

    • Hi Indie. Glad you enjoyed it — and equally glad that poets like Frost were given the gift of words. By the way, I visited your site and the red birdhouse is gorgeous! I tried to leave a comment, but I kept getting bounced off. Be well!

  8. I, too, love Robert Frost and the lines that have lifted you to higher ground were meant for your ears. They really have spoken to you, and I can tell that in this really challenging time, some deep and meaningful transitions have been adding important layers to who you are are and who you are becoming. There is great depth in what you’re sharing with us, and I feel privileged to be included in your circle. I think this is a beautifully hopeful beginning to a wonderful story. Many of us have something we are intended to learn from you, so maybe we’re the garden you’re cultivating while you wait for spring. Sometimes life throws us such a curve! I really do wish you well, Kevin. I think you are pretty amazing.

    • DEBRA!!! Thank you so much for your thoughtful and touching words. They mean so much to me. I agree with you about life throwing us curves — but once I had my pity party, I know that I’ll rebound in some fashion. Should be an interesting learning experience.

  9. Hola Kevin! I can hear the sunshine in your voice, and am so happy you are adjusting to a warmer way of living. There is something about sunshine and warmth that instantly heals the body and soul, and makes you forget all about cold, snow and ice. I head back to the states this week and I am already realizing how much I will miss being surrounded by flowers and green. So….keep enjoying the sunshine and the freedom to choose each glorious day without responsibility and obligation. Most of all, stay healthy and be happy. Much love to you and Joe!
    Jeannie and James

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