When I stand and survey the backyard these days the usual allure is missing. The garden does not draw me; the weather is too cold. Granted, the temperature gets up into the high 50s and even mid 60s during the day and at least part of the time the skies are clear and sunny. But the psychological pull -- usually so irresistible -- is just not there. The chilly air, the cold ground, the wan sunshine seem to highlight the brown freeze-blasted plants and the scruffy bare branches of the trees. (No doubt, people in less temperate climate zones are justified in muttering: "Wimp.")
There is certainly plenty to do out back: clipping and pruning, putting wood chips on the paths, composting and mulching, on and on with a long list of usually enjoyable tasks that really need taking care of to get ready for the return of the planting season.
The relative lack of greenery exposes, in mute reproach, all the half-finished tasks from last autumn. The northern part of the garden is pretty much in limbo, suspended animation, waiting for the next surge of activity, like Sleeping Beauty awaiting a kiss from a Prince Charming who is simply not very motivated just now and prefers to stay inside and leaf through garden catalogs or read books on soil building. (Updated below.)
The only organized area is the southeast corner where several beds of winter greens have been supplying our table through the wet, cold months. There is a sense of order here if you don't peer too closely and notice that the plants look a bit storm battered and muddy, with slug-infested, decaying outer leaves. But nobody lingers here either. The most we can usually muster is a quick dash to pick what's needed at the moment, then a dash back to the warm kitchen. Wimps.
UPDATED: February 9, 2013. It must be said that, recently, a real Prince Charming has been doggedly clipping away at the towering rose thicket. Thank you, H.!!!!