Color Me Happy

A garden behind glass for my Shabbate table.
December 2, 2011

This unseasonal weather has me befuddled. First, we get a snow storm at the end of October, then a string of balmy days leading up to December. Huh? Still confused but very happy, I broke out my flip-flops this morning – I LOVE my flip-lops — and practically skipped in them to kickboxing.


Shame, then, that the moment the October snow melted I ran out to tuck my garden in for its long winter nap. I trimmed the roses, pruned the lilacs and dug up the cannas. Threatening to replace them with animal-resistant evergreens, I took a stab – literally – at killing off the row of demolished hostas. They cannot defend themselves against noshing deer, but do they ever have bullish roots.

Against the backdrop of these clear, sunny days, the garden looks wretched. Except for the verdant boxwood, all that remains of its summer glory is a bouquet of what is essentially mulch — brittle stems, forlorn branches, and mounds of soggy leaves in varying shades of sludge and burnt toast.

It reminds me of the time when one of my sons, then quite young, ran to me clutching my black-and-white baby portrait. He sighed heavily and asked if it had been difficult for me to grow up before there was color.

Indeed, it would have been, I think, missing the flowers and their colorful chaos.

So I ignored the mountain of unmatched socks and the cooking for Shabbes that needed to be done today and attended instead to preparations for a new garden. I pulled out vintage paper images of flowers and greenery. I finely trimmed the thorns from tea roses and snipped gardenias from their branches. I cut coleus and poppies and dahlias and carnations.

As I delicately planted each of them behind glass, affixing them with sepia-toned decoupage medium, I was distracted only twice. The first time was by the buzz of the dryer, which I ignored. Later, I heard a loud thumping on my roof. Not the scratchy scampering of squirrels, but the sound of something heavier crawling around the perimeter.

I should have been fearful and concerned. But surrounded by the fierce collection of pointy-tipped scissors in my studio and the cross-jab combo I had practiced during kickboxing, I felt empowered and continued decoupaging. It took a few minutes before I realized it was the guy who mows our lawn cleaning out the gutters, one of the few pre-winter chores that I leave to the professionals.

This warm, sunny weather notwithstanding, the cold winter – along with its dull palette of whites and greys — is coming. I plan to don my flip-flops and hang out here in my indoor paper garden, even as the snow begins to fall.

Hope you’ll join me.