Like many of you, winter is not only a time for snow and cold temperatures but a time which brings with it many bittersweet feelings. Summer is missed, light becomes dark, what was once green becomes brown, frost covered and eventually morphs into a blank canvas of white. It is a time when we fret about all of the things we need to complete before more snow falls or the clocks fall back.
It is a given that many people much like myself, who have grown up with numerous winter snowfalls under their belt, dislike the season. For those in North Dakota, the start of winter means 6 more months of on-again, off-again snow, coupled with instances of melt, mud and daily bundling up. Gone are the carefree days of flip flops and freedom from jackets, boots and mittens.
During the winter, fresh fruits and veggies can no longer be harvested from the garden. Care must be taken to gather eggs before they freeze. Even with a well stocked pantry and freezer, a trip to the grocery store is required for any food that is remotely fresh. However, road conditions must always be taken into consideration before embarking on even the shortest road trip.
Our chores on the farm also take on an entirely new level of difficulty. They must now be completed with layer upon layer of thermal insulated gear weighing us down. Becoming overheated happens solely through sheer exertion and not as a result of being under the influence of ambient temperatures. Stock tanks freeze, animals require more feed, and snow needs to be moved in order to facilitate anything we want to do.
Snow, literally gets everywhere and it can take on any form – including water, ice or muddy slush. Inside, doggie paws must be wiped and shoes removed or cold wet puddles are sure to make for soggy socks and dirty floors. A constant chill is always in the air and colorful views…well, color simply seems to disappear.
It sounds pretty bleak and pessimistic I know. But, this is exactly how I grew to view winter. The very threat of winter was becoming just as depressing as living through the endless months of cold weather.
For those who have not grown up in this climate, snow may be a beautiful oddity, something to behold in it’s unique crystalline beauty. Even dressing for the cold can be an adventure, being all tucked into the snuggly warmth of insulated clothing.
To winter newbies, large flakes of fluffy, falling snow brings with it a certain heir of peaceful tranquility. As it floats to the ground, it is reminiscent of angel’s feathers kissing us from heaven.
When sunlight is present, snow glistens like gemstones lining the ground in pure white light. Frozen ice and snow crystals cling to tree branches as if icing on a cake. Winds swirl loose flakes, crossing roads and fields in tides, finding rest in dune-like outcroppings along ditches, next to barns and along walking paths.
Resting much like the fallen snow, the sun too takes it’s reprieve, resting earlier and rising later. The enveloping darkness puts to sleep the work day. Toil in fields and gardens cease. Families come together around the dinner table and warm their weary bones next to the fire. Rest finds the prairie.
Evenings usher the living inside and darkness holds them close, much closer than during warmer months. This time to wind down and experience closeness, that is what winter gifts us. We just need to open our eyes wide enough to understand that God has His plan and purpose for the seasons. And here in North Dakota, we are so fortunate to see all 4 seasons in all of their splendid glory.
Since moving to the farm I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many very special people. One of them being a dear friend who previously lived in sunny California.
Seeing winter through her eyes has been an amazing experience to behold and a great reminder of what I have. Her excitement in seeing the first snowfall of the year made me WANT to rethink how I regard winter.
Yes, I always knew the beauty was there…but it was becoming more difficult to find. I was still looking at winter judging from what was outside and what it took away from me…instead of looking at what it gave me.
Winter gives me time with family, opportunities to be closer, rest easy and recharge in the ease and confines of our home. Winter shows me a beauty that not everyone in the world can witness.
I’m sure I will still have days when my bones can’t seem to shake the chill. Days where I need a big push to power up that snow blower or to start yet another fire in the wood stove. BUT…I can and should, always remind myself of the purpose and beauty that winter blesses us with.