By Debby Gregorash
It is not possible for us to hurry through the dark and cold of winter.
November is a time of resignation and although the calendar says it is still officially autumn, that first snowfall announces winter.
Become resigned to winter rather than resentful of it because it cannot be rushed. Find the calm and peace in the season of winter and you will fare much better.
Summer’s warmth would not feel like such a blessing without the cold of winter. The seasons are a great learning school and each one is more precious as I get older.
Winter for me is a wonderful time to distill the goings-on of the past six months. It is a time where we can stay inside and look inside. My time belongs to me. I think about my life and my days of impatience and appreciate the winter months teach me to wait like the land does.
Life seems dull and dead but beauty is gestating and like the bulbs and seeds under the snow and sleeping ground, my plans are cooking.
Things are quietly gathering in nature’s roots and in my own heart. Stories are being remembered and shared over homemade soup and bread. Cards are being written to rekindle elapsed friendships. There are books to be read. Now that the garden is asleep, my introspective nature takes over.
The sun is more cherished in winter and I must be in the chair by the west window at a certain time of the day, so as to absorb the winter sunbeams. John Updike wrote a poem that says:
“The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.”
Outside, winter is the great equalizer. The most perfectly manicured yards and the most neglected ones all look the same under a white blanket of snow. Who is to know there are still unraked leaves on the lawn and weeds in the garden? It all looks pretty, for now. “Snowflakes are tender and fragile but look what happens when they stick together,” said a poet.
Outside in the country it is even more beautiful. The snow shows the landscape as it really is with its knolls, hills, gullies, stream beds and boulders. The trees stand silently, keeping their secrets. They cast purple shadows on the snow and their black silhouettes make the sunsets stark and beautiful. The trees are not dead but resting and waiting. They are experts in the art of patience and I try hard to be like them, as winter wanes and the promise of spring nears. Wait. Wait. Not yet. Wait.
Colours are softer in winter and sound travels further. The silence of a winter forest can be deafening. I think this was my favourite thing about the forests my father and I snowshoed through back in Quebec during my tumultuous teen years. The silence was a tonic to my mind, heart, and soul.
Only chickadees would disturb the peace with their adorable calls and peeps. A little sensory deprivation is good for the soul. I am grateful that in the winter cold I have warm memories.
Here in the west, I listen to the owls and coyotes calling at night, sometimes in the moonlight.
Who can remain unaffected by the soft winter moonlight on your face and the “luster of mid-day” the full moon gives to the snowy landscape. When the moon is not out — the stars burn brighter and in that sacred silence you swear you are being lifted up by the harmony of the universe.
Yes, winter is a wonderful time for reflection. It is like a blank slate, whereupon you can write your hopes and dreams for the coming year.