Goodbye November, hello December

Published 9:00 am Sunday, November 30, 2014

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

At last we are saying goodbye to the month of November, and with December lurking on our doorsteps, the official start of winter arrives later in the month. November has set records with cold and days below freezing, New York has seen huge amounts of snow and it seems like we have had gusty winds every day. What will the month of December be like for us in the Midwest?

Just one of the many winter visitors to the gardens, this rabbit was looking for something to eat. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Just one of the many winter visitors to the gardens, this rabbit was looking for something to eat. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Now that we survived the feast of Thanksgiving everyone is gearing up for the Christmas season with shopping, baking, parties, school and church programs and children making out their list for Santa. Soon the garden catalogs will be filling our mailboxes and I will be making out my list of must-haves. I wonder if Santa would like to fill my wish list too?

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It really seems odd not to be outside working in the garden after spending the spring and summer so busy everyday with garden chores, but my body sure appreciates a time to rest until next season. Even though I spend some time outdoors every day filling feeders and birdbaths or just walking around and listening to nature, my time outdoors is very short when you compare it to eight to 10 hours working in the gardens.

My must-haves list doesn’t have a lot on it yet, but for sure I will be looking for another smaller hydrangea paniculata named baby lace that I read about last year in my catalogs. I have already picked out a perfect spot to plant it in the front garden, so hopefully I will be able to purchase this one locally instead of having to order it through a catalog. I like to support our local businesses as much as I can and we are so fortunate to have several wonderful garden centers in our area.

The feral kittens are now fully grown and along with mama Violet appear in the gardens daily as they hunt the birds at my feeders. Sometimes it is difficult to just sit back and know that this is a part of the larger ecosystem, because I love both the cats and the birds and the two don’t mix well. This fall we have had three opossums visit the yard where they would eat the fallen seeds under the feeders. Unfortunately one of them was run over by a car in front of our house. They are such strange looking but interesting little critters and it is nice to know that our backyard wildlife habitat draws such a diverse group of animals, even if I really don’t like the skunks that come.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Winter arrives Dec. 21 and the days will slowly start to increase in length. It’s too early to start counting the days until spring but in the back of my mind that is just what I am doing. How much snow and cold windy weather will this winter bring to us? We definitely can use the snow to protect the perennials and keep the frost from going so deep, but as I get older with every year I really have to say winter is not my favorite season anymore. Oh, I love how pretty it is, but shoveling and driving in it ranks very low on my list of fun things in life. As a child you loved the snow and prayed for snow days from school so you could go sledding or build a snowman, but as you get older those things just disappear from your list of best days.

Winter is an ideal time to grab the camera on those snowy days and shoot some photos of what Mother Nature has painted for us to enjoy. Even though I am an amateur, every once in a while I get some pretty awesome photos of the landscape and the birds. It’s fun to walk outdoors and just listen to the magic of winter as the birds are pretty vocal on these days. Memories flood my mind of a small child and her delight in the snow.

“What a severe yet master old Winter is… No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and chisel.” — John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers,” 1866 


Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears weekly. Email her at