Monday, February 17, 2014

Resting phase

It's been a very long winter. The hymn, "In the Bleak Midwinter" says it well. We've had "snow on snow" here in the middle-Atlantic states.

I feel as if we have had snow on the ground most of the time since the second Sunday in Advent, when our first snow fell. That first snow was just a tease. We were thrilled -- it's relatively unusual for us to have snow before Christmas. This was light snow, fluffy and beautiful. Newly-installed Christmas lights looked even more brilliant and twinkly than usual. Travel was not much affected. Light snow is the best possible harbinger of the Christmas quickly approaching. It's a seasonal enhancement.

After Christmas, however, the snows kept coming, accompanied by some of the coldest air we have had here in decades. The "Polar Vortex" settled over us, freezing the earth "hard as iron" (more hymn lyrics). My hardy fern on the porch shriveled up in mute protest. The heat pump could barely cope. We built fires to make ourselves feel better, though we both realize that fireplaces suck out the heat produced by the furnace.

A friend remarked the other day that he finally realizes why suicide and alcoholism are such social problems in Scandinavia. "I look out the window," he exclaimed, "and everything is dead. The bare trees seem barer than usual. The landscape seems tragic. It's as if permanent winter has settled on us."

I, too, am more tempted than usual by the pathetic fallacy. The trees are skeletal, the piles of snow, by this time, are filthy and repellent. In my head, however, I know the trees and plants are only dormant, storing up in their roots the nourishment they will need for the growing season ahead. The winter is their "resting phase."

I hope this is my "resting phase," too -- that I can somehow store my cabin-fever-induced energies for a warmer season. When Lent and spring finally arrive, I hope I am ready.

Meanwhile, more snow will arrive tonight. When will spring arrive? We are more than ready.

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