Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Lessons of Winter


Winter has been one of the seasons with which I have had the most struggle. Because I have always found the outdoors a place where I spend so much time, almost as another room in my home, having a season where I was disconnected from that place, from that room, has always been difficult. Of course, the weather has never been so cold that I could not spend time outdoors, but the weather is cold enough that one cannot spend time outdoors for very long. And there is not much to do in the garden with all of the garden dwellers taking their winter nap--resting for that graceful emergence in spring. Things always appear so dull and lifeless. And the only time I could see the beauty of the winter landscape was when the snow covered everything in its sparkling and magical coat. In my neck of the woods, the snow does not appear often nor remain for very long. So, I would spend much of my winter indoors separated from the room which I love so dearly and long for so much.

Beth of Plant Postings hosts Lessons Learned for all the seasons, and so I offer some lessons learned about winter.




Nature has always provided me with a place where I feel closest to spirit. Since I was a child and I found solace among the trees at the end of the day, nature has been my cathedral. The birds sing joyful hymns, and the trees knock together bass bell sounds as the wind caresses their branches. The leafy forest floor is my pew, and the majestic colors of flora are the stained glass windows. All around me in the forest and in my garden is the wonder of divinity. In the winter, I am not able to spend a lot of time in this sacred place.


In recent years, I have come to appreciate winter--taking the lead from nature to rest, to gather my strength for the activity of upcoming seasons. And I look at winter's landscape in a much different way than I did many years ago. I see so much more of the beauty in that sparsely decorated vista of winter. Sometimes there is a great elegance in things when they are stripped of all the outer coverings, all the decorative wrappings--leaving a bare and stark vulnerability.


Many years ago what I saw in the winter landscape was death and lackluster interest. The gray and brown was bleak and sad, and I had no desire to look at it unless it was covered in the white crystals of snow. As years have passed, I see it all so differently. I see the branches as they shift and curve and intertwine. I see the architectural shapes and towers, reaching and extending like a painter's brush gently sways across the canvas. The subtle shades of gray and brown and black splatter across the forest with beauty, melding together to create a starker, yet gentle, flow of lines and arches and bends. I am quite enamored by it all now, and see the depth of elegance in the trees as they grow up and outward--all hidden when leaves are present.


I am now able to accept the season of winter with all of its subtle interest and soft whispers. I have learned to be grateful for the slowing of pace and for having the opportunity to see what I cannot see in other seasons. Mostly, I think I am grateful to live in an area where I can experience the depth of the four seasons so perfectly.

Donna of Gardens Eye View looks forward to celebrating the seasons with Season Celebrations. And with a few more days left in winter, spring has already shown signs of emergence.


After a long season of savoring the refined grace of winter, it is time to celebrate and be awed by the color and youth of spring.


Spring bursts out with such fervor and beauty. It reminds us of all the things that life can offer, such as innocence, joy, creativity. We cannot walk out of our door without seeing its smile in the abundance of flowers, the gushing buds, or the drenching of color. And that smile can only bring us to smile. May you have a very happy spring!

© copyright 2013 Michelle A. Potter

42 comments:

  1. What a lovely post. Like you I have grown to appreciate winter, both for the rest it gives from the near-frenetic activity and colour of spring and autumn, but also for itself, for the bared bones. And it makes me appreciate the jump - or sometimes slide - into Spring so much more.

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    1. Like you, that spring emergence is like receiving a special gift. I am looking forward to spring this year after the long winter. However, I am enjoying discovering new things to love in winter each year.

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  2. Such a stunning and wise post, Michelle! I feel the same way about winter ... until March. Then I have no patience for it whatsoever. Fortunately, every year, sometime in late March or early April, spring actually happens. Thanks so much for joining in the memes! Cheers!

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    1. I am so glad I was able to join in. I love your meme. Spring is easing in with winter hesitant to leave. Thank you, Beth.

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  3. Hi Michelle. Love your photos of the woods in winter time. There is a beauty and grace to all seasons, but I still like some seasons better than others! lol

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    1. I think I usually like the season I am in but near the end, I yearn for the next season.

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  4. That first picture is really striking, the way the clumps of snow on the branches catches light.

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    1. Thank you! That is a Japanese Maple in the shade garden that catches the snow so well.

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  5. Fabulous Michelle...it is as if you looked into my mind and saw the words I have been feeling...your post painted a lovely reflection of winter and promise of spring with words and pictures.

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    1. Thank you very much, Donna. I am so glad I can join in your meme.

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  6. I too look at winter as a time of rest. I also look at it as you do with the beauty it affords the landscape, even on the gray days. Makes no difference, there is always something out there worth discovering. Your photos are beautiful and your words delightful.

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    1. Thank you, Donna. I love finding all those little surprises.

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  7. Beautiful post with stunning pictures - I have had enough of winter resting now - spring where are you?

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    1. Our spring is easing in slowly as well. We had snow yesterday, but it is gone now.

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  8. Beautiful pictures, we rarely get snow here so I love seeing other peoples wintry photos

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    1. I love snow, too. We get snow periodically but not enough for me. Thank you!

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  9. Oh, yes, you're right! Winter lessons are important for us. I do not love winter with its cold, long and dark days, especially here in North. BUT.. after winter the Spring arriving is very pleasant and joyful. In countries where all seasons are the same hot and rainy you couldn't feel spring as you wait for it now.

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    1. Your winter must be very long. It is very nice when spring arrives. To see all that color after very little color is welcome indeed. Thank you, Nadezda.

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  10. Great post with beautiful pictures. And indeed through the time I have grown to appreciate winter too and see it all in a different way than when I was young. I love all the seasons from very cold, wet to hot and dry, but at the end of every season I am longing to the next one, so 4 months for every season is just nice to keep me perfectly happy.

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    1. I agree. That time period works best for me as well. I love having four seasons.

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  11. Stunning pictures, once again! I wonder where spring is.. It's so cold here in Finland. Have a great week!

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    1. Thank you! Hope you get the warmth of spring very soon.

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  12. I love this post. I think it does take the gardener a while to learn to love winter, and its restful period. I am starting to re-plant out some beds, and one area in particular now has mostly bulbs or perennials, with very few shrubs. No snow here, but in this bed, the bare ground is accented in winter. At first, I was unsure I would like it, but as I became accustomed to it, the more I liked the clean and restful look, and the stark difference between winter and spring.

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    1. Thank you, Holley. The seasons seem to offer us very different things...sure does keep us entertained. :)

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  13. Zimie mówię tak, ale nie na długo, bo jednak mało jest kolorów i jest zimno. Wiosna to eksplzja kolorów i zapachów i to kocham. Pozdrawiam.
    WINTER say yes, but not for long, however, because there are few colors and it's cold. Spring is an explosion of colors and scents, and I love it. Yours.

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    1. Thank you, Giga, for stopping by. I am looking forward to that explosion of spring as well.

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  14. A very special post that shows so very well how at times we need others to help us open our eyes to what is around us.

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    1. Thank you, Alistair. The seasons are a gift.

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  15. Winter has its own special pace, it gives us time to slow down, appreciate what we have around us. Time to plan, time to hope, time to catch up. We are so lucky having 4 distinct seasons, each one is to be enjoyed by itself.

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    1. I do like the rest of winter. Gardening can take a lot out of me.

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  16. Since moving to a colder climate I've had to learn to live with a real hard winter. It was difficult at first but like you I'm learning to appreciate the change in seasons. Spring is so much more boisterous now and winter a great time to rest and catch up on other activities.

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    1. I can only imagine how hard your winter is that far north. You probably get a lot more snow than we do which may try your patience. I, too, am looking forward to that burst of spring.

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  17. Lovely picture, wise words and a great blog
    Best regards
    Nordis

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    1. Thank you, Nordis. So glad you enjoyed your visit.

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  18. Such a lovely, thought-provoking post, Michelle. Winter does indeed have its own beauty, but I must admit by March I've grown rather tired of it. I always think, though, if it weren't for our long winters, I wouldn't enjoy spring as much as I do. It makes those first tiny blooms so much more special. Hope you'll be seeing more of those buds soon!

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    1. Thank you, Rose. Although I have learned to appreciate winter, March does bring that anticipation for spring. I am so glad to see the first signs of spring. The seasons make it all such a lovely experience.

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  19. Beautiful sentiments on Winter and beautiful photography too. I too, live in a place where snow doesn't come often and doesn't stay long so many things are gray and brown around me too. Sometimes I can see the beauty of winter but sometimes my attitude towards cold doesn't let me! Thank you for showing such beauty and reinforcing the benefits of Winter to me.

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    1. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. The gray and brown does become difficult to bear when we, as gardeners, are looking forward to more vibrant colors.

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  20. What a wonderful post! Yes, absolutely, I find beauty in winter. I, too, love the change of seasons, so I can appreciate what each has to offer. We learn from nature to rest and contemplate in winter and be ready for growth in spring. Thank you for sharing, so well written, I enjoyed reading it. And thanks for your visit today :)

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    1. Thank you, Loredana. I think we need that rest as much as the plants. :)

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  21. I love all of your wintry landscapes. I like to view winter as time of renewal and that the snowfall will bring much need moisture. Although this year, the snowfall has limited.

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  22. Thank you very much. I, too, like to see winter as a time of rest and renewal. We did not have much snow at the start of winter, but Old Man Winter seems to be making up for it as we have had two snowfalls in the last two weeks. :)

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'I see trees of green, red roses, too
I see 'em bloom for me and for you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world'
--What a Wonderful World

Thank you for visiting The Sage Butterfly blog. I enjoy reading your charming reflections very much. Have a great day!

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