Saturday, January 22, 2011


"Live in each season as it passes:  breath the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit." -- Henry David Thoreau

As I opened the porch door this morning to put the dogs out, the cold darkness quickly chased me back inside to a hot mug of coffee enjoyed in the cuddly warmth of a soft afghan.  Now, pale sunshine has filled the sky and the snowy landscape is a lovely site.  This year the month of January has been much like those of my childhood -- frequent snowstorms, trees and shrubs sparkling with bits of ice, and crackling cold surrounding us all.  It is impossible to imagine that six months ago the garden was lush, and the heat and humidity of July were our daily companions.

Today my gardens are safely tucked under a blanket of snow, and the birds and squirrels fluff up their feathers and fur as they hurry back and forth from shelter to feeders.  While I love the pleasures of summer -- quiet evenings on the porch, fresh tomatoes warm from the vine, steak sizzling on the grill, and the scent of flowers lingering on warm breezes -- I also love winter.  There is a stillness in winter that soothes my soul, a drawing inward of sorts.  I love walking in snowy darkness, just me and the silent flakes that drift through the air.  I love sleeping under piles of soft quilts and the sensuality of wrapping myself in a well-worn sweater.  Soup or stews simmer slowly all day, filling the house with warmth and aroma.  A cup of cocoa warms cold hands when we come inside.  And, as in every season, the sunrise is lovely -- coming so much later and arriving slowly -- just the palest peach painting the horizon as daylight slowly pushes away the deep winter darkness.  I love moonlight on the snow -- a lovelier sight cannot be found.  I drink it all in -- the beauty and the stillness of this season when nature rests.

In the Northeast, we are blessed with a gift in our marked change of seasons.  Just as we tire of the endless cold of winter, we are greeted with gentle spring breezes that speak of warmth.  The mud of March becomes the fertile soil for summer flowers.  The long, hot, drowsy days of August are blown away by the cool, clear air of September.  How boring it must be to live where there is little to mark the passage from one season to the next.

I realize that there are people who do not find their pleasures in nature.  They live very happy lives in their "temperature controlled" worlds -- their contentment comes from more worldly endeavors.  They live productive lives and perhaps never find a thrill in a sunset or a flower.  They probably would prefer to live where the seasons don't change much, and the cold does not seep into your bones in winter.  But, like Thoreau, I prefer to savor each season and seek my bliss in the capriciousness of the climate of New York.

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