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Our barren yard in January shows many lingering signs of having been not so long ago a small space teeming with colorful fruit and surging flowers.
As I take a slow walk to the garage, I imagine the cucumber plants that climbed green ladders, blossoming in the summer with white and yellow flowers.
Today, that empty garden bed rests in a brown, semi-frozen sleep. It hardly looks like the nutritious home that nurtured flourishing vegetables only a few months ago.
Even on this frigid, sunless day, I see in my mind's eye where ripening pears hung from tree branches, where beans twirled up bamboo poles, where onions pushed upward through layers of mulch and carrots plunged deep into the dirt. Through these recent memories, I enjoy this whole scene even on a winter day.
Yet, the winter brings its own visual pleasures, even when it has generated such little snow.
With the leaves and plants gone, the garden that remains exhibits its most stark and simple forms — shapely trees, resting planters, a solitary white clay rabbit — all of which straddle a path now reduced by the cold to ground-level stubbles of dormant grass.
The fall of the gardening season yielded gradually to the barren peace of winter. The deep freeze kills molds that could threaten the seedlings that will emerge in the spring.
When one experiences these seasonal rhythms with one's children, many later lessons can emerge in real stories of birth, growth, aging and renewal that will occur in many realms of their lives.
Richard Kordesh, an Oak Park resident, is the author of Restoring Power to Parents and Places. He has worked professionally in the community development field for 35 years. His blog is posted by JCCindyblogger.