By Sydney Chandler
When there are no more clothes available to wear and weather reports threaten frostbite risk, walking trips tend to be short. However, the Arboretum gardens are accessible even in limited time. So here are a few short descriptions of the cold from an exceptionally brisk visit:
Snowball on a Stick
The white petals of the hydrangea cluster together for warmth but ice crystals still reach in and take up residence. The large spheres of tightly packed flowers are like living snowballs on sticks. They are positioned strategically throughout the gardens and are ready for action when the first snowball is launched in the next snowball fight!
After a wonderful season in the hot sun, the chrysanthemum finally relaxes on a well-deserved vacation. This is a welcome respite from the heat. A perfectly positioned snow cap polishes off the flower’s look. Among its peers, this chrysanthemum is one cool character!
Long Morning Shadows
Visitors who pause to gaze at the long shadows of winter mornings will likely notice their own body reacting to the cold: eyelids blink quickly to minimize the inevitable frozen lashes; faces are covered by scarves to avoid icy lungs; and fingers spend seconds outside of minutes before dancing desperately back into warmth. Perhaps these shadows are best admired while running in place?
Shivering Oak in a Coat of Bark
The oak tree shivers: leaves rattle as the biting wind whips through branches. The tree is strong and has endured many tough winters of dry, cold, ice, and snow. The sound of rattling leaves travels through the tree just as a shiver of cold zips up one coat sleeve, down the spine, and up to the top of the head. A jacket of thick tree bark sure looks like a good idea!
How do you experience the cold? Is there a balance of beauty and torture in your experience of freezing temperatures? What might it be like to be a tree enduring the elements?
Sydney Chandler is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.