Photos by Richard Kordesh

Fresh snow covering the ground and fluttering in the air casts a dreamlike haze over our garden on this late January afternoon. I can barely discern the outlines of raised beds that — only four months ago — teemed with red onions and surged with slender, green beans. Terra cotta pots, then brimming with red and yellow peppers, are barely distinguishable under the round, white cloaks that settled over them through the morning.

On the deck, the zipped umbrella base rests under a dense blanket of cold powder. On this frosty day, the umbrella looks more like a gray sail leaning into a frigid lake wind than a festive, apple-green shelter built to deflect the searing heat of the summer sun.

On the surface, the peaceful, subdued colors and muted shapes that emerged after the storm speak of rest, even slumber. Yet the apparent inertia evokes its own tastes, sounds, and feelings.

In the garden after a new-fallen snow, sensations unique to this raw season come alive. There is the crunching echo from my boots breaking a fresh trail alongside empty berry bushes. There is the raw freshness in the icy air that chafes my skin and squeezes water from my eyes. In this leafless time of year, the chirping of birds and the whistling of wind carry to my ears unimpeded.

Winter’s unique wakefulness heightens my awareness of the garden as it is now. It makes me feel alive differently, even as it extends for a time my dreams of summer. 

Richard Kordesh

Oak Park

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