Winter Weary

The Winter has been especially long this year, indifferent and unsympathetic to prescribed seasonal beginnings and endings that mark my calendar. The interminable gray skies and brown brick that defines many of the older cities of the industrial Midwest, nurtures a hunger fostered by bleak winters for the vibrant colors of nature. Even as moods are downcast by the absence of nature’s color, the cavalry arrives just in time to offer a brief respite from our dreary and exhausted interior selves’; nature’s front line, the boldest emerge bearing the flag of Spring to fan even the smallest ember of optimism. Fearing nothing, unfurling their colors despite another frost advisory, I feel such gratitude for them. I suppose the crocuses are the front line but for me it is the tulips that lift my spirits.

Incongruously, as if in defiance of mid-April winter temperatures, the blue-green leaves of tulips in places they have bloomed for years materialize. I have forgotten those places, so am pleasantly surprised by emerging blooms; a rich and elegant color palate among the desiccated and snow-sodden leaves. All of this happens so fast and seemingly effortlessly. A paradox I suppose, that among the first to bloom in the still harsh conditions should be among the most beautiful. Despite entreaties to linger a while, they are gone as quickly as they arrived. Nature is extravagant but frugal, often demanding a long wait for a brief spectacle.

Walking in the biting cold this morning, I interpreted the few blooming flowers as a tease not quite able to pierce the dull gray cloud I wore like a cloak. They offered barely enough sustenance to stir winter-weary memories that Spring will finally be gracious and deliver on her promise to remind us yet again that renewal remains a possibility.

Still, for now my solitary morning walks are filled with silence; deafened by the negative chatter of my winter exhaustion. I am oblivious to the urgings to attend the subtle signs of Spring.  

“Patience”, the persistent mid-April winter winds reproach. I have no patience. I raise the collar of my coat against the bitter cold which I interpret as a personal assault.

“Wait”, naked and gnarled trees with barely discernable buds irritably admonish. I hear nothing. I see nothing. I’m too busy to leave the impassioned and chaotic dialogue with the negative chatter in my head. I have been waiting forever.

What I long for is creation’s chorus to penetrate the disabling gray shroud that has discreetly shifted from what I wear, to who I am. A crocus pushing through the near frozen soil after a Springtime snowfall, offers a brief glimpse of what I have sorely missed… the fruits of patience…of waiting. A measure of tolerance… understanding.

Creation’s chorus is earth’s annunciation that the self-constructed barriers to perception and understanding will drop like scales from our eyes and we will recall the truth proclaimed year after year.

“Be still. The earth is at work. Everywhere your eyes rest offers evidence of the agonizing effort of earths long labor. Birth will come when it comes. And the newly born will struggle to find the light that resides above the underworld where it gestates. And the newly born will blossom in the warm days and nights of early summer.  They will mature in the oppressive heat and humidity of August. They will prepare for their end by putting on the ritual reds, amber persimmon, and countless colored garments of Fall, freely offering a parting gift. And finally, they will wither selflessly and confident that rest will bring renewal.”

Even as we feel again forsaken anticipating confinement in the colorless sea, the immutable truth remains-

all will rise again.

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