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Welcoming the quiet beauty of winter

By Pat Drackett

Crosby Arboretum Director

The first day of winter will be here in just a few weeks, on December 21. While the arrival of spring on March 20 may find coastal Mississippians well on their way to warmer temperatures, we will have a few months during which we can all agree that winter is here.

If you get down in the dumps, just think about those folks who reside further north and truly do suffer through the winter. For goodness sakes y’all, we can still dig a hole to plant a tree in the winter! Be very glad you don’t experience lake effect snow (if this term is foreign, just head to a search engine) or have an ice tsunami come knocking on your back door (there are pretty jaw-dropping videos on this topic).

What is your own favorite season? This can be a revealing question to ask someone, and you may be surprised at the answers you receive. For some, it’s the riot of spring colors and the countless shades of green they will look forward to all year. Others may yearn for summer’s slower pace and luxurious days spent relaxing in the sun. Or, perhaps you are one of the many who look forward to heading north for a traditional yearly drive in the mountains to enjoy slopes that are cloaked in burgundy and gold.

Although at the Crosby Arboretum we are sincere in saying we take pleasure in what every season brings us, like anyone else we could probably all quickly name a personal favorite. Whichever time of year resonates with you, it is certainly great fun to anticipate each turn of the calendar and the approach of “your” time coming around once again.

I hereby confess that my favorite season is the one we are about to enter. I’m referring to the quiet grandeur that characterizes the winter months. Perhaps you noticed this was the one season I hadn’t mentioned.

Winter brings such delicious comforts, like being encased in the toasty warmth of a thick sweater on a chilly day, hands tucked snugly into wool-lined leather gloves. Yes, gloves! For those of you who absolutely can’t stand winter, my two cents of advice is worth much more than that – being appropriately clad can make all the difference in the world to enjoying something (especially if that something is pumping gas while a winter wind gusts across a nearby parking lot).

For those of us who as children played in snow, nothing beats the world we experienced – one that was magically transformed into a rolling sea of snowy diamonds sparkling in the sun or an unforgettable moonlit walk in the snow listening to the crunch of each footstep.

When deciduous trees are no longer encumbered by leaves, the focus is on other features, such as the color and texture of bark, the exquisite and unique shapes of leaf and flower buds or the way each tree individually reaches skyward. Yes, wait all year to see the winter sculpture of bare trees and the muted shades of blue and gray.

Winter is still and quiet, like a deep breath and a welcome rest. It is needed after fall. One can perceive a forest in slumber on a walk this time of year. Winter’s rhythms and patterns are subtle, but they are still awesome. Look closely during your next walk at the Arboretum. You may come away with a treasured memory, perhaps of the variety of lichens that hug the tree trunks, or the ephemeral red and white mushrooms that are currently popping up along the paths.

A Family Holiday Craft Workshop will be held this Saturday, December 12 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Participants will enjoy working with natural materials to complete a craft project. As children must be accompanied by an adult, there is no minimum age requirement. Members’ children $4; non-members’ children $6. Non-member adults accompanying a child pay site admission. Admission is free for member adults. If adults wish to participate, the class fee applies. That afternoon, gardeners will enjoy the Smart Landscapes Program on “Native Plants for the Holidays”, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Celebrate Christmas and New Year’s holidays by learning about some outstanding native shrubs and trees with festive greenery for your landscape, to bring indoors for decorating home. Director Pat Drackett will also provide suggestions for holiday projects. Program is free to members and $5 for non-members. Reservations are required for both programs, call 601-799-2311 to sign up for programs. Space is limited, and reservations are requested. The Arboretum is located in Picayune, off I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59).