Life is often compared to the seasons, and as I approach my own winter, I’m often reflective on this season. It can be harsh, bleak, cold, scary and dangerous, but there are rewards.

During winter there are days I don’t want to leave my bed, let along my house. Like many animals and plants I feel like I should hibernate. Overcoming that desire can be difficult, but at my age, I know I must make it. While winter offers the hope of renewal, I know my life is winding down. That doesn’t mean giving up. It means seeking to find the treasure of each day.

One benefit of winter is that it highlights the structure of life. Winter strips away the ornate finery of life–the leaves, flowers and abundant grasses– to display the foundation. Those dips and swells of the land, the stark trunks and branches of trees and shrubs, much like monuments to life’s obstacles overcome, allow me to see the intricate patterns of living. The deciduous inter-planted with the subdued grandeur of evergreen.

Another beauty of winter is that it turns the world into amazingly varied shades of white and gray. Black is for the moonless night. In nature’s pallet black isn’t that common. That doesn’t mean there are no other colors, only that they’ve been subdued for the season. Tree trunks vary from cream to charcoal, olive to umber. Pines are drab green, spruce deep blue-green shadowed in plum. The leaves of many oaks cling to the branches, their once verdant green now turned russet.

Winter skies can remain unremitting gray. Even on these bleakest of days, the empty branches shadow the sky, reaching in mysterious appeal upward as if in prayer of freedom from a ground smothered in the white, icy gripe of snow.

Winter both obscures and heightens perception. On Highway 10 traveling west, an unusual grove of Paperbark Birch can be seen from a curve in the road. Often the pale trunks are lost in sheets of descending snow, or winter’s occasional fog, even though they stand in utter contrast to a background of pine and spruce. However, when sun strikes the white bark surfaces on a clear day, the interwoven branches shine like a sublime and ornate sculpture.

Sunlight also heightens all the grayed colors of winter, turning the dark burgundy twigs of the local diminutive dogwood shrub into sprays of burnished copper and blood, the tan bark of Popple to brass, and the hanging flounces of weeping willow twigs to newly minted gold. These signs of hope, promises of renewal, often grab my heart.

Who can doubt in nature’s or life’s rewards, no matter what the season? We only have to look and endure.

winter sky

Winter Sky