Because we like snow, we watched it swirl through the branches of the tree that sits between our house and the pond. My daughter spotted a robin – our first of the year – perched on a branch, proof that winter will yield to spring. It will release its hold on the land and the newness of spring will abound. Trees will bud, bees will fly and long dormant grass will green, each silently proclaiming victorious survival over winter’s onslaught. And though I eagerly anticipate winter for its snow, I am ready for something new. I want to wake to the song of birds and sleep to the chirp of frogs.
The frogs and the birds are at our doorstep. On two sides the woods encroach almost to our very walls. Another side we have tamed somewhat since staking our claim here. In front, though, we have an actual yard, and an established, though neglected, garden which reflects a different aesthetic, perhaps created to please a different member of the original household. Overgrown and wanting a true gardener’s hand, it is filled with ornamental trees, perennials, and bulbs. First will come the flowering bulbs; the daffodils, the hyacinth, a couple of sad and lonely tulips, and a lovely mass of grape hyacinth; then the redbud; and finally the lilac, at least those which have not fallen in our war against poison ivy and her kin.
The earliest flowers, the daffodil, the hyacinth, and the tulip, all require winter’s cold. They must face winter’s chill to produce their contribution to the life of spring. It is the difficulty of winter that calls out their beauty.
My approach to winter is sadly dilettantish: my main interest is the snow. All the rest I could do without. Even the early darkness that allows the glow of the candle to be enjoyed quickly loses its luster when the landscape is brown.
Women, weary from the demands of the day and the minutia of life, often tell one another that this is a season, meaning eventually this will pass and you will get through it. Probably it will, both pass and be survived. Most circumstances do.
I’ve heard it. I’ve said it. I believe it.
I am starting to realize, though, that I haven’t fully grasped it. What I have never considered is that just as the earliest flowers in my garden require the cold of winter, perhaps the coldest part of the season is necessary to bring forth something lovely, worthy, and filled with life. My sweet sister-in-law once used the word “intensity” to describe a season that I was passing through. Winter’s cold is intense, yet in the design of things, it brings forth the beautiful, the worthwhile, and the vibrant.
Whether of the land, the life or the heart, winter will do its work and give way to spring. Spring is on its way.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18 – 19