The other day, my family and I had a joking conversation on whether or not we’d hibernate, if we could all winter if it meant we’d sleep less over the other seasons. The resounding answer from all of us was…yes. Yes we would hibernate. And honestly, it does feel like a whopping “Why the hell not? What use is winter?? Just sleep through it.” Because I really do feel like I am sleeping through winter, only mentally.
Winter does, of course, have its purposes in nature. For a spiritual perspective, winter is the time to rest, reflect and go inwards. If we likened the seasons with the phases of the moon, Winter is our dark moon. I can’t speak for anywhere that doesn’t get cold and snowy, but it's a time where unless you are the go-getting winter sports type- you don’t leave your house unless you have to with perhaps the exception of December’s festivities.
Summer, by contrast, is like our full moon. Even when it’s hot and sticky (and sometimes so very gross!), there’s energy and light, warmth and movement. The world around you is growing, blooming, life teeming and awake. People go places and do things, you can open your windows and feel the fresh air- the few pleasures I get in winter is when I do step outside and I can take a few deep clearing breaths because the air in my house becomes a bit stale. Opening the windows in the dead of winter is cold and uncomfortable.
While I’d love to hibernate through winter, it’s just not possible. But I can give my permission to do less, to preserve my energy, to go within myself. It’s not easy- I miss camping, and traveling. I miss the warm sunshine (How deceitful the sun can be in the winter! Have you even looked outside thinking “Oh, it looks so warm, I can’t wait to go outside!” Only to discover that it’s only 7 degrees F with a windchill of -10? The worst!) and growing plants.
Don't get me wrong- winter can be, and is, beautiful at times. I love cold days, with freshly fallen snow. There's a unique sound of snow and cold, and a distinct smell- I really do love it. There's a certain magick to stepping outside during a snow storm, the snowflakes sticking to your eyelashes and hair, the wind kissing your exposed skin- a sting that isn't a sting, your skin turning bright red. And the song I can hear, it's powerful and glorious. I get in odds with myself for loving it, and hating the cold at the same time. In the end, I'm not sure I'd ever move anywhere that didn't have snow and true winter. If anything, it makes me appreciate the warmer months more.
I dream of my garden, hikes and fires where I don’t have to bundle in 3 layers. I miss bare feet on the grass, beaches and taking walks without heavy jackets and hats. I miss laying in my hammock, the smell of lilacs, berries, herbs and freshly mowed lawn, the sounds of song birds around me as I stare into the blue sky, watching the clouds drift by. During the winter, I miss the connection I have to the land- I feel the lack of soil on my fingers as I tend my garden.
By now, you might be saying, well Sionainn- Spring is here! You can get all that. And not quite yet. Here in central NY, things are just beginning to wake up. I’ve spotted some hyacinths and crocuses peeking their heads out. We’ve had a range of temperatures, which is nothing unusual, from the low 20’s to the 70’s. I’ve seen snow and rain on the same day. Sometimes all in one day. It’s been windy, overcast and rainy. Which is good- over the past few years, our area has been hit with mild drought, so I have been very welcoming of the rainy weather at times- at least until we start hitting flood conditions.
My garden rests for longer- I’m hoping by the end of April to have some spring crops in- cabbage, carrots, beets, peas, beans, etc. I forgot to plant garlic in October/November, so I have extra space in my garden this year. I’m thinking of adding new herbs, and a tiny pond near my herb spiral. I’ve been thinking on how to improve my yard, and the decor to make it more mine, more private and comfortable. And making plans to make the land more hospitable to the Land spirits.
I’ve been walking a lot, though it can be chilly at times. It’s been nice, this week I’ve gone for long walks, stopping at a bench by the canal I walk by and journaling. There’s a giant tree I pass on this walk, and it’s beginning to bud. I can’t help but stop and touch it, telling it how gorgeous it is, and pressing my head against it. I can’t wait to see all the beautiful leaves open!
And with Spring, I feel myself beginning to awaken again. There’s more energy, more drive, more desire to be out in nature. While winter was spent dreaming and planning, the need to DO has surfaced. I still have to be patient- I do believe we have actually entered Spring and not the 3rd or 4th False Spring we get. With any luck, there won’t be anymore snow (I did check my 10 day forecast, and we might get snow on Sunday- but it’s not the snow that sticks anymore, so that’s promising, right?!)
And I know, at some point, I'll start cursing at the stickiness on my skin, the stifling hot air that makes it harder for me to breathe. The mosquitoes and black flies that buzz around my head. I might start dreaming of a pool, and crisp cool nights...but that's a ways away.
So to this I say, Welcome, Spring! And with it, I will carry gratitude for Winter- as hard as that might be. Because while I find a lot beauty and rest in Winter, it's long, and it's difficult. Deprived of sun and warmth, I am deeply affected (SAD sucks!) The Wheel turns, and I look forward to the warmer and fruitful part of the year.