Sunday, January 10, 2016

Winter Beauty, Silence, & Purpose

I know lots of folks find winter unbearable -- a season of darkness and imprisonment. I find winter liberating, though. The garden is so tranquil, the smallest sound an echo piercing into the heart with more genuine resonance. The shadows and light take on greater profundity, too, and the way plants bend in the ice and snow, the sheltering birds, the sunrise moving up, over, and through the bare branches and stems still holding their autumn leaves defiantly.

Freezing fog a week ago

My American Elm died, but is still alive

There's so much to learn from winter in the landscape. Not just about biological processes and a celebration of aesthetic simplicity, but about ourselves, too. For me, winter is a great time of repose and purposeful thought, a regathering. I get some good writing done, interruptions are less. I don't feel like I'm missing so much outside that I can't concentrate on the inside -- my spirit, my soul, my restoration. This is what the winter garden teaches us -- that while there is apparent stillness and quiet, a whole world is gathering like a coiled spring, strengthening and learning from the past seasons. Coldness is a lesson not in endurance but understanding. Snow is as warm a blanket as hand-spun wool. A different kind of beauty wakes us to a deeper understanding of other types of beauty we associate with joy, happiness, and freedom. Give me my full measure of each season so that I might live more purposeful, understanding life from every angle, a seeker of a finite moment that if lived openly will humble and open me to the world.

Red chokeberry after a dusting of snow

Switchgrass and freezing fog

Sideoats grama and little bluestem in wet snow

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