I don’t like winter. At the first hint of changing leaves in the fall, although I try my best to appreciate all the splendor of nature, a faint feeling of dread begins to settle into my bones. The brilliant colors also mean that the leaves are dying and will soon be gone. As for what lies ahead –the long hours of darkness, the bitter cold, the icy sidewalks, the gray skies– I just don’t cope very well. The ground freezes. Plants die or go dormant. In the life-death-life cycle, winter is death. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season wards off the harsh realities of winter for a time, but the New Year comes and goes and I’m still left with long months of winter stretching interminably ahead.This year I have a goal to approach this season with a new perspective. What lessons can Lady Winter teach me when she blows in with her blankets of snow? Winter can be a time to be quiet, to meditate. When the chill chases me indoors, perhaps I’ll use that time to look inside myself. While the plants die and the ground takes a rest from supporting growth, I’ll let some less useful habits and parts of myself die. I’ll curl up with a good book and relax without feeling guilty for not being more productive. I’ll let winter teach me that there is a time to lay fallow. There are seasons and cycles in life. The earth shows me that even the bitterest cold eventually gives way to warmth and the darkest of clouds will part and let the sun shine through. It also shows me there is a time and a place for the cold and dark. Here’s hoping that this year rather than sinking into depression, I can see the quiet beauty of winter and be open to learning nature’s lessons.* Artwork is “Lady Winter” by Odessa Sawyer

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  1. Deborah says:

    Happy Winter Solitice to you, Amy! In honor of your attempt to embrace the bleakest season, here’s my favorite solstice poem:

    The Shortest Day
    By Susan Cooper

    And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
    And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
    Came people singing, dancing,
    To drive the dark away.
    They lighted candles in the winter trees;
    They hung their homes with evergreen;
    They burned beseeching fires all night long
    To keep the year alive.
    And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
    They shouted, reveling.
    Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
    Echoing behind us – listen!
    All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
    This Shortest Day,
    As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
    They carol, feast, give thanks,
    And dearly love their friends,
    And hope for peace.
    And now so do we, here, now,
    This year and every year.
    Welcome Yule!

    As much as winter wears on me, I think I’d struggle more in a climate without distinct seasons. More than once I’ve grown teary upon seeing the first crocus of March.

  2. Caroline says:

    Amy, thanks so much for these reflections on winter.

    I live in sunny So. Cal, so I don’t experience winter like so many do. I think I would love to live somewhere with distinct seasons for a few years, but I have a feeling in the end, that I might choose the convenience and comfort of weather that rarely dips below 60.

    But even living where I live, after reading your post, I’m inspired to enjoy my winter, reading in front of fires and drinking hot chocolate.

  3. AmyB says:

    Deborah, that’s a lovely poem! The message of celebration and and hope is so beautifully written. I’m also glad for the reminder that the darkest day has now passed.

    Caroline, I thought about the SoCal contingent of this blog while I was writing. I suspect I will live in a place with distinct seasons for a long time. It would take more than sunny weather to pull me away from New York City. However, I don’t think I would miss Lady Winter were I to move in next door to you.

  4. Eve says:

    I struggle with winter, too–not so much the cold, but the endless gray days. As far as I’m concerned, we can have some picturesque snow for Christmas and then spring can come right after New Year’s.

    But you make a good point about the opportunities for retreat winter offers. Curling up in front of the fire with hot chocolate and a book is what winter makes me feel like doing–it’s always disappointing when the demands of work and school continue, unabated!

  5. EmilyCC says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about dormant seasons lately especially since my dormant seasons have flip flopped. When I lived on the East Coast, it was winter, but now, in Phoenix, it’s summer. Even a dry heat is unbearable once it climbs past 112 degrees–we all just go inside turn the A/C down and wait for fall.

    I love this quote you wrote: I’ll let winter teach me that there is a time to lay fallow. There are seasons and cycles in life.

    If even nature takes a break, why can’t I be more content to take one for a season?

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