By Phyllis Galowitz

It’s 14 degrees at the warmest part of this middle of December day. The birds don’t seem to mind the cold. They’re happily flitting from one port to the other on the bird feeder, while the blue jay fills himself from the suet cake perched on top of a flower pot. Black-capped chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, downy woodpeckers and sparrows; all of them are celebrating winter together. The soft, powdery snow doesn’t seem to bother their delicate feet as they skim over and through it, fly to a nearby evergreen bush for cover, or maybe to warm up, and then fly back for another turn at the feeder.

The next day, four gigantic amaryllis opened!

I’m sitting in the warmth of the living room where I have a clear view of the birds through the kitchen window. Near my left shoulder is the table in front of the bay window that holds most of the houseplants. The amaryllis I planted just a month ago is more than 2’ tall and the full bud is about to burst open. The Christmas cactus, which has already bloomed, has new buds. Will it bloom again? The oxalis triangularis, that had been repotted in fresh soil, has risen from the dead. One of the African violets that Merna Popper brought me just a year ago has the most beautiful orchid and white flowers. She had planted it in a large cup and saucer painted with blue tulips. It cheers me up whenever I glance its way!

People ask me how I can stand living in this cold winter season in Andes. I love it! Of course, I’m lucky. I don’t have to wait on a street corner for a bus to take me to work. I don’t have to battle the crowds or the traffic. I don’t have to walk to a subway station while my toes and fingers are frozen. I can just enjoy the beauty of nature from the inside, looking out.  And as long as I have food in the freezer, music to listen to, books to read, plants to nurture and the birds to watch, I’m content. ~

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