Farm Life

For Love of Winter

In my part of the world, winter is the only time of year when I can clearly see stars light up the night sky. The air is crisp and clean, free from the haze of summer humidity. When the air is clear and the moon is dark, the stars shine their brightest. The long nights of winter are festively decorated with stardust, twinkling with infinite possibility. The winter sky sparks my creativity like no other sky. When I look up at the stars, my soul glows in harmony with them.

We humans wrap ourselves in more layers, but the trees go naked in winter. Those who are most beautiful in their bare state are not the same as the trees who shine in other seasons. The trees that catch our eyes in winter may not have adorned themselves with showy flowers in springtime. They probably didn’t carry large colorful fruits through summer. They likely didn’t wear glowing red leaves in autumn. But when the ephemeral parts are stripped away, we begin to notice the strong skeletal forms. The sacred geometry of branches. The beautifully contrasting stripes of bark, no longer washed out by green. Some trees delight us with their unusual skill of maintaining bright berries even while they sleep. And some are tough enough to remain, alive and green, throughout the cold months. Winter trees show us that there are many ways to be beautiful in this world. There is a season for each soul to shine.

Water transforms in winter. The waters of summer are soft, agile, and fluid, but winter waters are strong and insistent. As ice on a pond, water provides protection for the soft bodies sleeping below. As snow, it highlights the beauty of individuality and spontaneity. Individually, every snowflake is a unique work of art. Harmless and fragile, melting almost before it can be seen, an individual snowflake is all the more captivating for its impermanence. Collectively, snow becomes a powerful force. Collective snow thwarts our plans, exchanging car commutes for playful fights and meltable art. In the soil, water freezes and expands, thaws and contracts, freezes and expands, thaws and contracts. Through the percussive massage of the freeze-thaw cycle, soil is relaxed and loosened. Hardness is broken, and new paths form for roots to reach greater depths. Winter water teaches us the healing magic of discomfort, pressure, and change.

There are hardships and challenges that come with winter, but those are already well known. We humans struggle to stay warm and healthy while we attempt to maintain our summer pace. Winter asks us to slow down, to make time for warmth and contemplation and merriment. In this season that is challenging for so many, I hope you will find joy in this winter-positive viewpoint. Spring will be here before we know it. Let’s savor the starlight of winter while it lasts.