Even the Longest Winter

Winter came early this year: November 14th and the first snowman of the season
Winter came early this year: November 14th and the first snowman of the season

Winter strode in quickly and definitively this week,

with whipping winds that plunged us to 1ºF on Wednesday night, making this morning’s 20ºF feel warm, and the forecasted snow storm welcome.  (Even though it’s been 3 years since we moved out of the yurt, I still associate lots of snow with extra insulation—heavy snow years always made the yurt cozier in winter).

It’s as if the season is conspiring in our favor, telling us: it’s time to stop working.  You can go now. Nothing left to be done here.

You see, last year we declared we’d take an extended Thanksgiving vacation, and we’ve been working to clean up the fields, tuck in the greenhouses, and generally button up the farm so we can take off on a 3 ½ week adventure south, first to New Jersey and family, and then to North Carolina for van camping, hiking, and rock climbing.

While I’m looking forward to the trip, there are times when I brace against change—tighten my muscles, hold my breath, close my eyes.  Times when I’m just not ready for a new season. When to-do lists pile up, and I don’t know how we’ll make it all happen.

But then I remember: nothing grows without change.

I remember: we need winter’s quiet and rest just as much as we need the summer’s heat and rain.

I remember: even the longest winter eventually turns back to spring.  Impermanence is the nature of the world.

I remember: winter is the season for tea 3 times a day!  And sledding, skiing, snowman-making. A time for play! Yes, this is a welcome transition…

Still, for the times when change feels hard, I return to a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, who said:

We are often sad and suffer a lot when things change, but change and impermanence have a positive side.  Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible. Life itself is possible.

If a grain of corn is not impermanent, it can never be transformed into a stalk of corn.  If the stalk were not impermanent, it could never provide us with the ear of corn we eat.

If your daughter is not impermanent, she cannot grow up to become a woman.  Then your grandchildren would never manifest.

So instead of complaining about impermanence, we should say, “Warm welcome and love live impermanence.”  We should be happy. When we see the miracle of impermanence our sadness and suffering will pass.

Winter at Good Heart Farmstead

Even in winter wild seeds are scattered in soil beneath the snow, and green plants hold steady under row cover in the hoop house.  Even in winter, with its slow pace, impermanence inches us forward.

As much as I sometimes yearn for the straight path, I’ve learned that life isn’t linear.  It’s a circle—and while sometimes we’re flowing, other times we’re caught upside down at the top of the loop.  

There’s a season for everything.  

Sometimes we move fast, and other times forward movement is barely perceptible.  Sometimes we’re in full-bloom, while other times we’re a seed waiting under the snow.  

If nothing else, honor where you’re at.  Understand that value isn’t in a future bloom, it’s in the right now—the seed is the seed, and that is enough.

It’s snowing again now, with 4” due to fall this morning.

The landscape is already transformed into winter, and I’m so ready.  Wherever you are, I wish you an easeful transition.

Are you ready for winter?  What’s your favorite way to savor this season?  Let me know in the comments below.

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