The upside of winter

Horizon view of Margerie Glacier, Alaska

The jagged ice of Margerie Glacier seen only from the sea.

Thanks to a jet stream that drooped well south of its usual course, followed by repeat performances from a polar vortex, my home in Southern Ontario is locked in a record-breaking deep freeze. Ninety-percent of the Great Lakes are covered with ice. Lake Ontario, just a short stroll from my front door, is now famous for escaping solidification by luck of location and depth.

So why start a blog about gardening now? A Canadian winter is a great reminder that, in the natural world, what goes around comes around–spring will return. Besides, freezing temperatures actually play an important role in the growth process of many plants. The buds of stone fruit trees won’t develop and become blooms unless the tree endures a certain amount of chilling time.

Cold can be beautiful, too. On a cruise to Alaska last August, our ship sailed up Glacier Bay to Margerie Glacier. We were so close that if it had calved just then, we’d have been drenched from the splash. The entire ship was eerily quiet. As giant shards of bright blue ice loomed overhead, passengers lining the ship’s rails leaned forward, cautiously at first, waiting for the irresistable rifle-shot bang of immense ice cracking.

Here’s to making the most of every season.

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