I apologize to you winter. I kept waiting for your return, you were here just a few days ago – ice in the birdbath, citrus tree fatalities, howling north winds and clear night skies but you never returned, so I cut the grass. I felt bad doing it because I know the leaves are there for a reason, protecting the St Augustine and I know there are many small creatures nesting amongst those remnants of autumn but you never showed up to complete your job, the grass is growing in January! My usual meter to anticipate spring is hearts and chocolate… Valentine’s Day, not mid-winter.
I can faintly hear you as you feebly send the easterly winds through the fireplace rattling the fireboard a bit. As I listen, I think maybe you will return in February. I hope so, for you have much work left to do. I will wait for the groundhog to decide.
In the meantime, I cut the green grass and noticed something. It seems to me, when a tree is nearing the end of its life, old fruit trees specifically, I find another tree growing alongside of it, usually an oak tree, a native tree, put there by the wind or the birds. It’s as though Nature knows of the impending death and fills that soon to be available spot. I have many examples of that in my yard, places where fruit trees have come and gone and a sturdy little oak tree is ready to fill its spot. Nature knows all.
January wind I hear you at the backdoor, you are almost gone now…already.
It seems January is having its way with the country this year. I can’t recall being “housed in” for this long.I am trying to make good use of this time away from the garden, away from the lawnmower and all the outside things that take my time in summer. I have become reacquainted with my inside space and at the beginning of this hibernation period, I was a bit overwhelmed – so much was out of sorts (I may have mentioned, on occasion, the little cobwebs that have taken residence here while I was not looking).
But then, I managed to see it for what it was, a winter wonderland of piddling when I’m restless and carrying my broom around sweeping here and there and stopping to piddle some more, and time in the kitchen to sort bowls and dishes and go through my spice cabinet to replace and sometimes, discard – all of this while a winter soup is on the stove and a fire is keeping the kitchen warm and me company.
Anyway, when I put all of that “confusion” and disorder in this amber light of hearth and home, my anxiety disappears and my attitude became something more palatable – it became an opportunity to nest. I don’t have a hit list or any lofty expectations – just time spent wandering around in here landing in an interesting corner and tidying up a bit, while Mother Nature makes her wintery mess outside – a muddle of twigs and branches and decay I will happily tend to this spring as I leave the indoors to fend for itself until winter arrives once again.
Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.
I loved the imagery that follows in this poem and wanted to share it on this last day of January. Already, one month is gone, never to come again. I have to be more mindful of my calories, my money, my words, my energy, my thoughts, and my days and how I chose to spend them. I have been wreckless with all of the above at times; I have yet another day, another gift, to begin again.
I just put this here because I love this picture of Lennon and I do think of how suddenly and without warning his music stopped.
“January is the quietest month in the garden. … But just because it looks quiet doesn’t mean that nothing
is happening. The soil, open to the sky, absorbs the pure rainfall while microorganisms convert tilled-under
fodder into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants. The feasting earthworms tunnel along, aerating
the soil and preparing it to welcome the seeds and bare roots to come.”
– Rosalie Muller Wright, Editor of Sunset Magazine, 1/99