Louise Beebe Wilder: Winter Meditation

As the New Year unfolds, Louise Beebe Wilder's words help us to understand ourselves through the metaphor of our garden.

a row of leafless trees before a sunset.

Photo: nixter

Louise Beebe Wilder reminds us to note the beauty of leafless trees and “the lovely handwriting of their twigs against the sky”

Winter Introspection For The Gardener

In 1937 Louise Beebe Wilder wrote about the garden in winter.  She wrote that winter provides flower gardeners with time “to mediate upon our mistakes and failures, and to seek some way to remedy, or at least not to repeat them.”

In her writing, she reminds us gardeners that forgetting is as important as remembering: “We must forget the backaches, the scratched arms, the loathsome prevalence of slugs and other pests, the superiority of our neighbor’s plants and the humiliations suffered from the behaviour of various specimens that turned up their own small toes and died in the face of our most earnest ministrations.”

Wilder also reminded us to note the beauty of leafless trees: “the lovely handwriting of their twigs against the sky” and the colors and textures of tree bark.  She says to appreciate the way evergreens carry our gardens through this season and suggests we help them by shaking the snow off boughs that are in danger of being damaged.

Wilder believed that winter is a season of reserves, a reticent season.  It does not throw its treasure into our outstretched hands.  We must seek it, watch for it, and learn to appreciate the beauty of its subtle colors.

Wilder’s words help us understand ourselves, through the metaphor of our garden, as a New Year unfolds.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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