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Surely one lesson of the past year has been that nature can offer joy even in its smallest details.  With movement so restricted, many people have learned to see and appreciate the beauty of nature and the pleasure of spending time outside closer to home.  The Tawes Garden & Arboretum in the heart of Annapolis offers both.  As we enter the new year, with an end to pandemic restrictions still only a glimmer of hope on the horizon, it provides a quiet, uncrowded space for recreation and reflection.  And for eyes newly opened to the possibilities, even the drabbest days of winter provide things to see and enjoy. At this time of year it's truly the details that stand out: Grass plumes shining in the sun, the avalanche pattern of snow on cypress limbs, the unexpectedly colorful face of a boulder.  Observation raises questions as well:  What causes the curious cross-smocked patterns on the roots of the beech?  Is the lone mallard lost in a mysterious duckweed maze, or is his paddling the cause of it?  Probably the questions are more important than the answers, providing exercise for mind and imagination.  And even in the coldest weather life isn't lacking:  Hellebore hybrids, true winter bloomers, fearlessly display their silver-netted leaves and dusky mauve flowers far in advance of Spring, while an outworn bird's nest from last summer reminds us that the cycle of life and hope goes on.

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