Grow Write Guild #20: Loving Winter More


I’ll be the first to admit that my banter this winter is grating and repetitive, a broken record stuck on a particularly whoa woe is me whine. “This winter is brutal. It’s too cold. It’s too dark! Waaa!” While I don’t believe in the notion that you can magically make everything better by begging the universe or turning on a positive face, I also don’t think it is particularly healthy to wallow in the negative side of things, especially the things we can’t change, like the weather.

Here in the north the winter has its place and purpose, and even the hardest, coldest years are valuable, necessary even. For that reason I have been making an effort to follow my whines and whinges with some positive fact.

For example, as a photographer I love the way the trees look in their barren winter state. I am grateful for the opportunity to enjoy and capture their simple shapes when they have been stripped of their summer leaves and all that remains are the bones. As a gardener, I have experienced exceptionally mild winters and exceptionally cold ones. While the mild winters make for easier living, I find that I pay for it later on in the year. Some mild winters were followed by terrible drought, plants that died because they weren’t properly protected, and a plague of insect pests that stripped me of flowers and edible bounty. This winter may be brutal, but I feel certain that it has finally killed off some foreign insect populations that had become intolerable over the last few years. Ummm, yay for freezing!?

Grow Write Guild Prompt #20: Describe winter in your garden in 5 to 10 words.

Further Notes and Questions:

  • A similar exercise to this one was introduced in the fall season. To change things up, break this exercise into multiple parts: Use only negative words the first time round and only positives in your second attempt. Do the two lists together form a more balanced description of the season? Can you use these two lists to write a longer piece about your experiences with your garden in winter?
  • Approach these words as a collection of descriptions, or make them work together as a short poem, or even just one well-crafted sentence.

Please Note: I will be changing the publication date of Grow Write Guild Prompts to Fridays instead of Mondays, allowing time to mull over the prompt on the weekend when many of us tend to have a bit more down time to turn our brains to such things.

The Grow Write Guild is a creative writing club for people who love to garden. Everyone is welcome to participate! Click over to the Grow Write Guild FAQ to learn more about it.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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27 thoughts on “Grow Write Guild #20: Loving Winter More

  1. “Woe” is me, as is great sorrow or distress, not “whoa is me”, as in a direction driven to stop a horse

  2. I am a gardener and a writer, so I guess this is something I want to explore! Love your title, You Grow Girl!

    • I’m not speaking of the beneficials… I specifically mentioned the pests that are not typically this far north (in noticeable numbers). Warmer winters had lead to larger populations of pests surviving that we don’t normally see in my neck of the woods in such high numbers.

    • Sorry; this was my response to your writing prompt. Trying to be positive and so therefore not saying that this winter may mean death to lily beetles and ash borers. I may have posted this in the wrong place however, I almost never respond to blogs so don’t know what I’m doing lol.

  3. My winter garden is meditative, secretive, resilient and magically optimistic.

    I just turn 60 and started a new garden 2 years ago. Winter is also a great time to keep fit physically in order to be ‘in the swing of things’ when Springs arrives. I came across this beautiful little video of a 95 years old lady. She’s very inspiring and her little spot of paradise in Fire Island, New York is soothing on this cold and windy day here in Nova Scotia or anywhere else.


  4. A beautifully written post, I had to laugh when you struck out ‘whoa’, a touch of humility is always warming. Winter will be through soon, and we can get back to doing what we love. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for commenting. I do my best to edit and check, but typos and mistakes are human. I’m okay with that and don’t feel it is something that needs to be hidden.

  5. Wow, I feel better…I have this 2 week slump after Christmas/New Year where I just kind of hibernate and rest. Now that I have confirmed that it WILL happen every year, I look at it as a time to do nothing…a true vacation from everyday stress. And then, I gain renewed energy to pack up the holiday stuff, do a little spring cleaning and set up the seed starting area. Like you, I try to concentrate on the positive and beautiful side of the winter-the birds, the snow, the quiet…because all too soon, the gardeners crunch time begins!

    • Cat – That’s exactly where I was at last season! I moved in late fall and was really excited about the potential of my first full yard. All spring I watched as unexpected plants kept popping out of the ground. Good luck with your new adventure.

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