Tis The Season: December 2010
December prepares us for January cold, December is short days and long nights, December is protecting our landscape from the Deer, December is red bows and ribbon on an evergreen back ground, December is lights hanging from trees like icicles, December is the smell of Balsam Fir in the family room and eventually throughout the house, December is the smell of cherry and apple burning throughout the neighborhood, December is chestnuts roasting on and open fire and jack frost nipping at my big nose. December is all of this and more.
In most years, December is our first major snowstorm and if it falls just before Christmas it heightens the spirit of the season. Snow clears the atmosphere as it falls, it grabs particles from the air and melts their nutrients into the ground. A fertilizer from the sky if you will. Farmers and gardeners welcome its presence. Snow also cleans the landscape and its blanket instantly converts the yard into a winter wonderland. What’s more beautiful than six inches of snow draped on the bows of a White Spruce? Snow has many different sub forms, it can be fine, fat, heavy or fluffy. It’s pennies from heaven for many in the snow removal business. When it falls fast, heavy and deep as it did in the early-mid 90s it can be “White Death” on snow removal equipment.
We are entering a period where the sun surface is becoming more active, sun spots and solar flares are now more numerous. What that means for us is a more visible aurora and the Northern Lights should be a common occurrence this winter. A walk in the woods or meadow on a snowy moonlit night may also include a light show with bands of color shooting out of the north sky. If you have never witnessed the Northern Lights it’s a sight to behold.
December is the month when we start to pay attention to the outside temperature. The first thing many of us do in the morning is check the temperature. Knowing the temperature and the weather will help us dress properly and keep us comfortable throughout the day. In order to get an accurate temperature the proper placement of the thermometer is important. Install the thermometer on the north or northeast side of the house away from direct sunlight.
Some notable trees and shrubs in the landscape this time of year are the Virginia Juniper or commonly known as Eastern Red Cedar. This evergreen prefers limestone soils. A perfect accent tree in the valley areas where limestone exists. A slow growing tree with striking blue berries. Birds eat the berries this time of year. A handsome tree that prefers full sun. White Birch, Gray Birch and River Birch look good planted in a grove or as a specimen. Interesting white or exfoliating bark, the Birch will decorate most any landscape. Native conifers like the Weeping Hemlock and Dwarf White Pine are a slow growing evergreen that will decorate most locations or highlight an area as a specimen in the landscape.
The first day of winter, or the Winter Solstice, is December 21st. It’s the shortest day of the year or more accurately has the shortest amount of daylight. Looking at the bright side, after December 21st the days get longer as the sun slowly rises in the sky. Something to look up to.
Soon after Winter Solstice the holy days begin. A time for family and friends to give thanks for the simple pleasures in life. To do more with less is my New Year’s resolution. May the power of love and the force be with you this holiday season.
Pete and the Natives