How to enjoy a 70 degree winter day

The month of February is just beginning in my home town of El Paso, Texas. I’m deeply troubled by the thought of at least two more dreary months of winter weather. But the morning newspaper promised a 70 degree day with no wind. Could Mother Nature truly be so kind as to give us a brief respite from winter weather?

I tentatively opened the back door to the porch where the feral cats find their daily food and water. Yes, a chill was definitely missing from the air. So I opened the kitchen door to the courtyard and left it open. Next I unlocked the bedroom door to air out the upstairs. My spirits were beginning to soar.

One of my greatest summertime joys is walking around the yard to admire each and every plant. But a month or so had passed since I had even ventured out of the house. A freak November hailstorm wrecked havoc on our property. I didn’t even want to look at plants with frayed leaves, broken pots, and dented and scarred stucco walls.

But the beautiful, warm, sunshiny day lured me outside. I wanted to find something that was blooming, if only to remind me that spring will be here again this year. Here is what I discovered.

Vinca major

The vinca major vine under a grape arbor is looking much healthier than it does in the blazing heat of summer. It even managed to put out several bright purple flowers.

Alyssum

Alyssum is another plant that seems to prefer winter weather. Several clumps of white alyssum are growing around the yard, and, on more humid days, you can catch their sweet aroma.

Hearts and Flowers

Hearts and Flowers is a hardy plant that is growing in many different locations in our garden. It is so easy to propagate that I have to laugh when I see it for sale in plant nurseries. Often I pull up large clumps of this plant and throw them in the trash because it becomes invasive. But this winter I was happy to see Hearts and Flowers flourishing and even putting on small pink blooms where the sunlight hits it.

Pyracantha

The pyracantha bush that I bought on sale at a nursery that was closing has flourished through many years. In autumn, it is covered with orange berries that turn bright red in the winter. A welcome sight!

Rosemary

Rosemary is another plant that thrives in the winter months. When it is happy, it produces small blue flowers. Rosemary is great to use as a rub for pork chops or to bake with roasted root vegetables. The distinct aroma of fresh rosemary reminds me of the gypsy women selling sprigs of rosemary to tourists in Granada, Spain.

Agarita

The spindly agarita bush in the front yard is also enjoying a respite from the scorching summer sun. It is putting on small red berries that can be used to make agarita jelly by more dedicated cooks than I.

Finding plants surviving under difficult conditions, and even prospering, gives me inspiration that we humans can do the same. Dark, cold, windy days may be ahead, but we know that sunlight and colors and soft breezes will greet us with the first days of springtime.

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