There are those here in Montana who seem to dread the approach of winter, with its long months of short days. To be honest, I once numbered among them. But that was long ago, before our lives became so thoroughly tied to the land. Now I embrace it as a much-needed time of rest.
To be fair, the time likely flies by much more quickly for us than for others. Within days of putting up the last of the harvest in November, the holidays are nearly upon us. The end of the year passes in a flurry of cleaning, baking, crafting, and visiting. January finds us resting at last, snuggling under blankets, reading books, watching movies, napping. Lots of napping.
Then, while the snow still lies deep in mid-February, we begin to work on our summer garden. Our first plots are quite small; seed-flats and six-packs. How can it be anything more than an act of faith to sow in a few square feet what we expect to fill a few acres?
Words cannot fully describe the pleasure of stepping from chill, scentless winter air into the balmy greenhouse, heavily fragranced with the rich scent of dark earth. How delightful to slide our winter pale arms out of heavy sleeves, to feel once more the warmth of sun upon our bare skin. As music plays and the children chat, cats loll as close as they dare to the wood stove. Everything here, in this place, in this moment, proclaims life, and hope, and joy.
There was a time when winter was my least favorite season. No longer. I have come to appreciate the unique blessings that each season offers. Winter's gift is that it marks both an end and a beginning. One year closes; another opens. Work complete, there is rest, a time of refreshing. And then, the work begins anew.