Nature Notes

Nature’s Intentions

A Ponderosa lemon tree catches my eye. Did you know it is known for its purple flowers and even more so for the lemon-citron hybrid fruit that can grow up to FIVE pounds!

By Lee Anne Laskey

Inches of heavy snow and arctic temperatures makes this last week of December the ideal time actually to bundle up and head to the Arboretum. When the New Year is right around the corner, I always crave standing still among the winter landscape to set intentions, not stress about resolutions. Time spent regularly in nature is top on my priority list again. Nature never fails to clear the cobwebs that accumulate and opens windows to new, fresh perspectives.

Aaahh. Silence and bright sunshine surround me. Inspiring blue skies in every direction instill instant contentment and I smile when I notice the Black-capped Chickadees still cheery as ever at the feeders. These active familiar birds survive harsh winters through caching food, cavity roosting and entering a state of hypothermia at night. During daytime cold weather foraging, they have a way to increase their metabolism too. No wonder they seem to be taking charge of the feeder I’m observing. A comical squirrel trio competes for the seed as usual, but they seem to have met their match.

Laughing, I keep moving before my eyelashes freeze and find myself in favorite, cozy spots near the Snyder building where I have been known to bring a cup of coffee or a packed snack.  If I close my eyes right now, letting the sun warm my wool hat and cheeks, it is summer again, with the water moving gracefully among the rocks below. What a fun spot for a simple winter picnic too. I will be doing that next week.

As I head inside to linger in the warmth and character of the Snyder building, I admire more snow-covered trees. When I tire of winter challenges of driving, ice and cold, I count on taking in these simple pleasures to keep me loving the season. I make the intention to truly observe more of this when I leave today, stay present to nature’s wonders that gently nudge us to truly look and listen.

Trees like people, all have different winter coping strategies. That’s why you will notice on your winter walks that some cone bearing trees like pine, spruce or hemlocks fold their branches to shrug off the snow. Other trees like oaks and maples stand rigid and inflexible. Trunks of paper birch are known to stay bent at times after a heavy snowfall. No matter how they are coping, to me, they all hold their own beauty today and keep me coming back for more in the weeks to come.

Once inside, I pause at the library displays celebrating slowing down and appreciating nature’s tiny treasures in featured books of their beautiful collection.

I make a mental note to come back more often and do just that. The Andersen Horticultural Library is everything “hygge”, especially when the weather is in the single digits! Have you stopped in our cozy library lately? Tuesday through Saturday it is open for looking, learning and dreaming up a project or two.

I can’t leave without strolling through the conservatory. A Ponderosa lemon tree catches my eye. Did you know it is known for its purple flowers and even more so for the lemon-citron hybrid fruit that can grow up to FIVE pounds! I only know these facts because I set the intention to learn more about it right when I got home!

Vivid blue blooms hang above and graceful Maidenhair ferns below as I keep strolling. I investigate the colorful, intricate orchid varieties and am blown away by their details. For those feeling creative today, grab your paints or journal and one of these quiet benches. Creative time with nature as the muse does wonders for our well-being.  

Forget the stress of New Year’s resolutions then. Find your way to the Arboretum to set your own New Year intentions instead. What kinds of inspiring days would you like to create for yourself in 2023?  The Arboretum in every season keeps us more calm, extra curious and oh so healthy in every way. I’ll take another year of that. How about you? Don’t forget to stop by the membership desk to learn more about memberships or renew yours today!

Spend the end of December in the winter gardens, on the trails and in the warmth of this lovely place that is always here for us to keep learning, growing, connecting and creating.  

Lee Anne Laskey is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

2 comments on “Nature’s Intentions

  1. Quite a contrast between inside and outside! Lovely trees!

  2. Pingback: 14 things to do in January 2023 at the Arboretum | News from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

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