North America is again in the grips Old Man Winter. For the most part, this simply means that it’s cold outside and that the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from Sol on it’s endless journey around and around. A time of ice and snow. A time of hearth and home. Time to reflect on all the plans and aspirations of the year to come. For me, this is a time to be inside and figure out exactly what I’m doing with my life. Is any of what I put into motion last year really working out for me? Or is it all for naught? Building projects are put on hold. Only the hardy venture forth to make their mark on the world. All too often I find reason to not be one of those who gets things done out there. Especially once the mercury dips below the freeze point. So I’m left with a lot of time to think. And think. And think.
During this time of seemingly perpetual twilight and snowfall, I can reflect with gratitude on the feeling of the sun on my cheek in July. The sting of sweat in my eye in August. Hearing the rustle of varmints in the tall grass and the soft click and sigh of a warm breeze disturbing the Maple leaves on a summers eve. Winter gives me time to reflect on the shocking red of the Cardinal flower and the purple stains left behind from gathering the tiny Saint John’s Wort flowers. These tiny gifts are what cary me through this bleak cold. Coming out in the morning and finding a thousand Boletus have leapt up from the lawn. Or seeing the Hummingbird’s throat flash in the sun as it drinks from the Lily.
Winter affords me time to dis-remember Summer’s sticky grasp or the mosquito’s ear whine. It affords me time to think back on the bounty of what the time of heat allows. Apple Sauce, dried greens, tomato soup, peach cobbler. Without winter, these things would be meaningless. Dry red wine and warm honey mead lubricate my ability to see another early sunset. Or the sight of another 6″ of snow to scrape off the driveway. It is the blizzard’s shriek that allows an appreciation for the fresh scent of a warm spring breeze. The crunch of snow under boot while Orion strides the heavens informs the feeling of grass between the toes beneath the cowering Scorpion. Without winter, summer loses its nuanced flavors, its subtle tones.
Though I cower indoors, huddled near the fire in this time of darkness, I am grateful for the time allowed. Winter, at least the one’s here in in Ohio’s sharpest corner, are long enough to make Spring’s return all the more joyous.