This winter season has felt particularly cold and brutal to me. I can’t be the only one. I’m not just talking about the temperature, but the actual isolating dynamic of winter. Maybe it’s because I work from home now and in the past few months it has been a struggle when I get off work to try to absorb that last hour of sunlight each day before we are shrouded in darkness once again. I don’t know I just feel the heaviness and melancholy of winter this year and it’s quite palpable and poignant. I always used to romanticize winter as a kid. Growing up, when it got colder that meant it was getting closer to Christmas break and no school and in January and February I would always pay attention to the weather for any chance of snow. Southeastern Tennessee winters are pretty mild compared to other parts of the country and snow was an uncommon treat of my youth. I adore snow and a snowy landscape. I think it adds so much beauty to what is otherwise a pretty bleak landscape. We haven’t really gotten snow where I live this season.
This winter has seemed to drag on endlessly and aimlessly. Without the allure of snow, the winter backdrop is quite drab and depressing. It has felt shabby and uninspiring. It’s a sea of gray everywhere I look. Everything looks dead or dormant. The softness of the leaves of the warmer seasons has faded away to a distant memory and we are left with the jagged, twisted branches of trees, like exposing the raw, skeletal underbelly of nature. Just like the trees, the air is sharp and biting and hostile. The ground is hard and unyielding. Something about winter feels not just cold in a temperature sense but cold in an indifference sense. To people. To life. To warmth. It is in these months that the whole rhythm of life seems to slow down. I feel myself going through some sort of mental hibernation. Waiting. Wanting. Biding my time until the first hint of Spring fills the air once again.
And that hint of Spring came this week. Despite the usual grey, dreary spell of overcast days of the past few months, this week has been bright and sunny and the temperatures have crept up into the 60s and 70s. Today it is 73 degrees right now and the sun is shining bright in all its might. We often get these little pockets of early Spring sometime in the Winter here as our weather is quite erratic and unpredictable and in the context of the depressing weather around these fleeting pockets of warmth, I feel my soul start to come alive again. Just stepping outside onto the back porch and letting the warmth of the sun hit my face, it almost seems to thaw my very soul. I feel human again. Wow, where have I been?
This week is just a reminder for me of how much we are not in charge and how much we truly rely on the rhythm and patterns of nature and of the sun for our health and wholeness. It’s amazing to feel like a human being again. It’s amazing to have the sun seem so close again, so vibrant and present. The woods around my house, while still bare and grey, seem to have sprung anew again, if only in my mind. The flaunting and chirping of birds around me seem explicit and unabashed, distinct and bold. The warmth energizes my existence and breaths new life into my being. I feel grateful. I think I have always taken the warmer seasons for granted and what all they bring to our lives. I will take this time to be mindful of the fact that this earth for so much of the time provides us with just the right Goldilocks temperatures for us to not only survive but thrive. To think that we came out of the earth and can survive here in this precious, precise range of temperatures. To think we can step outside and be comfortable, and to feel like the world is actually catering to us, embracing us, holding us. I miss being in water again, swimming and floating down some winding river in the dead of summer. I miss the tingling of grass between my toes. I miss the subtle but welcome touch of a cool breeze at just the right moment on a hot summer day. I miss the mild summer nights on the back porch listening to the symphony of insects.
This week has lifted my spirits with its warm, enchanted weather. It gives me hope for what is to come. It reminds me that not all is lost and that it is okay to hope for better times. It is a reminder that this world is not completely indifferent to me, but that there is beauty and truth in it, all around us. Thank you God/Nature/Mother Earth/The Universe/Whatever for reminding me of the warm grace and the giving nature of this world in a simple way, just when I needed some color in this ocean of grey. I will take this experience to heart and use it to better appreciate that glorious time in April when everything bursts forth with life and vigor once again. I wait and I hope.