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Life Blooms Despite the Cold

Published on: Feb. 15, 2008

It was another windy, cold winter day. I looked out the window and saw the small and hopeful blossoms of witch hazel scattered along the branches of a slender bush. One branch lay cracked off by the December ice storms. But those tough little flowers bloomed in spite of that on the living plant that remained. (The picture witch-hazelhere is of a brighter, fresher bloom last year. This year’s blossoms have been zapped by ice and cold and look darker. Each bloom is less than 3/4 inch.)

Near where I live, there is a rock shelter that was home to people about 1,200 years ago. I imagine they lived like the witch hazel, bitten hard by the winter cold. Quite a difference from the cocooning comforts of today. Who would even guess a plant could bloom in a Missouri winter? And then you wonder how much other life goes on out there that you’re missing. I know some people (hunters, trappers, naturalists) may pay more attention to what’s going on in the winter wilds because that’s their interest. But for most people we seem to live in increasingly parallel universes—the life of people indoors and the life of the other animals and plants.

Which takes me back to the witch hazel. What else is alive and well in the woods today? It calls me out to explore.

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