The mind reaches out to winter, looking for connection

01/05/2013 7:41 AM

01/05/2013 7:42 AM

As much as I love Christmas, the clean freshness of the new year and a return to post-holiday routine are always refreshing and consoling.

So is seeing notices of garden clubs starting to get together again for their monthly meetings after an end-of-the-year break.

“Won’t be long until spring now” was my favorite e-mail received upon return from the holidays, from Patty Daniel of the Wichita African Violet Study Club.

But I’m not going to try to kid myself (at least not this time). I know we will have plenty of winter before we have spring. And considering that being attentive is my No. 1 resolution for the new year, I can’t exactly close my eyes to what’s in front of me.

So the mind reaches out to the winter, trying to find a place to connect. Days above freezing, and days in the sunshine, are helpful. So are snowy days.

The tree-lined streets of Kansas City were a winter wonderland on New Year’s Eve, and a walk in the snow, before streets turned slick, was great fun. The snow covered all the ravages of past summers, making the landscape pristine.

I walked by a little boy who was making a snowman with his dad while his mom took pictures of white-clad apparitions, and we greeted one another.

“Isn’t this fun?” I asked them, and they agreed. When I was halfway down the street, the little boy hollered after me, “Merry Christmas!” My heart warmed, as many people had already moved on from Christmas, even though it was only the sixth day.

The next day, driving through the Flint Hills on New Year’s afternoon was a trip unlike any other I’d had through there – and I’ve had many. Snow had dusted the pancake-topped hills, leaving tan stubble showing, and the sun starting to set in the west hit them so that the hills were blue.

I remembered driving through the hills with one of my KU professors back in college, on my way to a reporting assignment, and snow was falling that day, too. The professor was a world traveler, yet he said he thought that the Flint Hills were “exotic.” They change so gloriously with the seasons, and with the time of day, that even though you’re speeding through them, there’s a connection to the earth. I slowed down to savor the view as much as possible while keeping an eye on the road, and stopped at Matfield Green to get gas so I could catch more glimpses between the semis and the gas pumps.

January, too, makes garden-club meetings exotic. How about these opportunities next week? You can talk about sources for buying roses (7 p.m. Tuesday at Botanica, where Diana Jones and Cindy Vadakin will lead the presentation, and Wichita Rose Society members will discuss their favorites; light refreshments will be a prelude at 6:30), and get a free African violet (1 p.m. Friday at Botanica, where the African violet club program will feature Patty Daniel and Clarice Byers leading a violet repotting workshop).

Visitors are encouraged at the clubs’ meetings, which are free, and this is a good time to dip a toe in and share a love of plants with others if you’re at all interested.

It might be the start to a new, refreshing routine for 2013.

About Annie Calovich

Annie writes about home and garden, including her Bit of Earth column on Saturdays. She has been at The Eagle since 1985, working as a copy editor, a nation/world editor and a reporter. She’s a KU graduate who started out at The Coffeyville Journal.

Contact Annie at 316-268-6596 or

Follow Annie on Twitter: @AnnieCalovich

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