Sunday, February 18, 2018

My Favorite Time of the Year

A not uncommon question others ask me in reference to the garden is, "What is your favorite season?"

I often feel that they expect me to respond with "Spring," or perhaps "Summer."

My actual response, "Whatever season I'm in."

True to that response, I really love this time of year. Winter still reigns, with all of the ups and downs the local climate has assumed in recent years. The trees remain leafless. The warm season grasses rattle and crunch underfoot, and give a brown glow to the landscape. Even the weeds have almost stopped popping up -- although some that had sprouted before the worst winter cold remain green.

Winter grips the land, in spite of our recent warm days. The only green in the garden, besides the small patches of henbit, can be found in the diminished patch of leeks from last summer. I've wintered them in place by mostly burying them in hay and covering them with an old comforter during the coldest days and nights.

But we have left Deep Winter. One can feel the stirring of Spring. Last week I noticed green spears of crocus leaves emerging in the narrow strip between the house and sidewalk. While digging a couple of days ago I uncovered daffodil bulbs with little white shoots getting ready to poke their heads into the light.

Geese have returned to the sky, on their way to northern
nesting sites. Buds swell on the apple trees. The forecast holds contradictions... today's high winds, and warm and dry weather give us conditions ripe for wildfires; in two days we may experience freezing rain (everyone's favorite -- not). The world transitions from winter to spring, creating highly fickle weather, that even the best forecasters can't accurately predict. We have divided the year neatly into four seasons, but there's nothing "neat" about the real seasons. In truth we have many, including these seasons of transition.

This seems a period of precarious balance in the world. While I can feel the excitement building as bulbs and roots and seeds stir in anticipation of spring, the garden remains asleep. I won't plant outdoors for at least another month. I walk through the sleeping garden without hurry. Many tasks can be done now -- at least when a few warm days thaw the soil -- but I feel no rush, no crunch, no flurry. Weeds don't grow out of control overnight. Few of the tasks have hard and fast deadlines, unlike the tasks of spring and summer.

I feel myself breathing. I allow myself time to walk through my wild places, to sit in my Sanctuary among the cedar trees. And the winter garden is beautiful. I can see its bones. I can feel its soul. In some ways, I feel more at peace now than when green growth threatens to overwhelm me. I rest. I write. I am. I feel myself in deeper communion with the natural world around me.


Yet it is a time of great anticipation.

This has got to be my favorite season.

And next month, when we observe the Spring Equinox. I will say the same thing. But today I will stay here and enjoy the gifts of this season.