In warmer winters, the deer favour our rhododendrons; it is so cold this year, however, that the rhodo foliage has given up all pretence of life; vertical and dark, the clenched leaves have an air of sullen defeat. Our neighbourhood raccoons have taken to completely removing the suet feeder at night. If we're lucky, we can spot it before the next snowfall; otherwise, it's back to the Nature Store. The squirrels have even figured out how to liberate peanut crumbs through the tiny holes on the peanut feeder. One of them has almost no hairs on her tail and must surely be cold at night without her fur stole.
There has been no sign of the chipmunk since his bolt-hole in the driveway froze shut. No matter, he is sleeping off the winter in the tunnel which holds his stores of sunflower seeds. No doubt the red squirrel is again sleeping up high in the old stone garage with her box of walnuts close at hand.
Those of us with larders are incredibly lucky even if it consists mainly of root vegetables and cold weather crops like kale and brussels sprouts. Conveniently, I even prefer these vegetables this time of the year to the imported tropicals. So you should not be surprised that I was inspired to immortalize a beautiful Savoy cabbage early one winter. The painting was done from life in watercolour with a restricted palette of cool blues and greens so that complementary background was a must. I liked the painting and we enjoyed the cabbage again that night, even if it did feel a little bit like cannibalizing a new acquaintance.