Gardens hold more than dirt and plants. They hold power. They heal.

Gardens foster community and relationships and awaken the senses while they provide hope and teach patience and fortitude.

Gardens contribute to our quality of life whether we're working in them or sitting back and taking them in.

Here we will dig deep and expose what all gardens hold, teach and reveal.

Learning To Brave the Cold, Snowshoer Style

by Heather Ford-Helgeson

Winter's playing hide-n-seek with us here in Minnesota. One day it's 21 for the high the next it's 50. We're accustom to it but we feign offense because it makes for good complaining 'round the water cooler. Admit it or not, Mother Nature's inconsistency is part of why we live here. Weather is a game and we all like to volley guesses at any given day's highs and lows and when the snow will dump. However, we all know the inevitable outcome: cold with a chance of freezing our booties off.

Yes, winter will hit us with its subzero ferocity and we're readying for it. Stuffing carbs, cheese and meat as if its our civic duty, curling up on the couch with the lights low and the t.v. on by seven, going to bed to "read" by nine and sleeping 10 hours or more. We are Vikings to be sure, but we are also bears and we know how to hibernate.

For the approximately 18th year I am telling myself this winter, THIS WINTER, I will take up an outdoor activity. I will get out into the elements, no matter how earth shattering cold, and movemovemove. I am pushing hard this time and think I'll succeed.

Late last winter I tried show shoeing with a friend on a lake and it was exhilarating. In full disclosure here, the first 20 minutes almost killed me, but once I got used to my heart beating above 80 bpm and acclimated to the cold, I looked up and out and over the lake and it was awesome, as in awe-inspiring. Snow, sun, blue sky and the only sounds were our labored breath and the shoes through the snow.

Perhaps snowshoeing will be a form of mediation for me throughout this winter. I'm looking forward to finding out.

In this land of skiers and skateboarders, skaters and hockey players, I will snowshoe...but I'm still going to bed by 9pm.

What winter activity do you do that gets you out into the elements?