Monochromatic Sunrise

A December Surprise

I am an early riser. As day length shortens with the approach of Winter Solstice, my early bird nature is often rewarded with breathtaking sunrises, like the one I wrote about here. However, today did not bring fire to my eastern horizon.

Today as diamond stars faded into a pre-dawn pearly sky, a pale lavender herd of fluffy cloud sheep galloped toward me from the south. A solid wall of steely clouds loomed close behind them. As the sheep fled northeast before the approaching cloud bank, the eastern horizon showed hints of promising pink and pale gold. The race was on: clouds vs. sunrise.

The cloud sheep multiplied, their color deepening to lilac as the sky behind them darkened. Where the sun usually first appears, hints of tangerine promised warmth. Just as I expected to see the first golden rays, the sheep fled, replaced by a sobering wall of gray nothingness. No sunrise for me today.

A flat gray sky rules the morning; steel trees silhouetted against it reinforce the monochrome landscape. But Nature has not surrendered to the gloom. Sharp-leaved hollies glow greenly, their crimson berries brightening the dull air.

Hollies fight the monochrome

And then there are the flowers.

The weather here has been so inconsistently cold that many of my plants have been fooled into precocious blooming. Some summertime flowers have still refused to retire for the season: Sweet Alyssum and Verbena ‘Homestead.’ My loropetalums are blooming sporadically, as you can see here:

Fooled by late autumn warmth

And, as the flower opening this entry shows, one of my flowering apricots has been in full bloom for a week now. I confess, I don’t remember the name of the variety. Its perfume does not share Peggy Clark’s signature cinnamon scent. But it is still lovely – sweet, but not cloyingly so. I have never, ever, seen it bloom in December. Sometimes by late January, but never early December.

Peggy Clark has always bloomed first. Her location next to the garage gives her a flowering advantage. And her buds are close to opening. I’m guessing Peggy will be perfuming my yard by midweek. However, this season, this pale pink Prunus mume wins the race. I’m going to cut a few branches to bring indoors before the next cold snap threatens. She has earned a place of honor for her sweet blossoms.

But today I’ll enjoy all my December flowers where they grow, and appreciate their colorful punctuation of a monochrome near-winter landscape.

Too soon for slumbering honeybees

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