February musings

It’s a grey and windy day with rainy clouds passing by. We’re halfway of February and on a day like this, spring can still feel far away. Still, there are already subtle signs of the reawakening of nature and the days are getting lighter. Have you noticed it too? But in the meantime we have to deal with the harshness and darkness of those last winter days. It can be a struggle for many of us. If we had the choice we would definitely want to skip winter, wouldn’t we?! There was a time I definitely would but I’ve slowly learned to embrace the beauty and stillness of winter.

The darkness of winter can offer its own gifts and magic if we take the time to discover them. And winter is with no doubt, part of the seasonal cycle and essential. It’s a season to slow down, rest and nurture. To take the time for self-care and embracing winter’s invitation to take life a little slower.

‘Winter, a lingering season, a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey and enjoy every idle hour.’ John Boswell

Nature is a perfect example of how to adjust to every season! In winter a lot of creatures hibernate. Trees have a growth and food production stop. It’s a season for simplifying, retreating and resting. We can allow ourselves to slow down, turn inwards and take it easy. For me, it means not planning too much on my agenda, limiting my daily to-do lists. Listening to my body and let my energy level decide how much I can handle on one day. I’m learning to adjust my plans and trying to take a break more often.

‘If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.’ R.Maria Rilke

‘ Winter is the time when I reorganise my bookshelves and read all the books I acquired in the previous year and failed to actually read. It is also the time when I reread beloved novels, for the pleasure of reacquainting myself with old friends. …. In winter, I want concepts to chew over in a pool of lamplight- slow, spiritual reading, a reinforcement of the soul. Winter is a time for libraries, the muffled quiet of book stacks and the scent of old pages and dust. In winter, I can spend hours in silent pursuit of a half-understood concept or a detail of history. There is nowhere else to be, after all.’

How much I love these words by Katherine May, writer of ‘Wintering’. I really enjoyed her book and the way she writes about the winter season in our lives, which we all experience one day or another. I’ve also had several winter seasons in my life. I had to accept that these difficult and painful times are a necessary part of my life in order to grow and be prepared for another season. Just as it is in the natural world. It still is a learning process to accept my brokenness and shortcomings. But looking back I’m grateful for the things I’ve already learned and the way I’m changed.

And books can indeed bring solace. On those cold and dark winter days I enjoy rereading ‘The secret garden’ again, dreaming of a blooming garden and spring days to come. There’s a pile of books, novels as well as non-fiction, waiting to be read on the coming evenings. I don’t like to go out on the winter evenings so I spend the evenings reading and being carried away into other worlds.

I hope you will find a way to embrace whatever winter brings you. To be kind to yourself and indulge yourself sometimes. To create a cozy corner in your home, to nestle in your favourite chair with a cup of tea or coffee and a good book. And something sweet of course!!! To rest and nurture yourself as this is what the winter season is for. When winter is a struggle for you, I hope you might find a way to learn from it. May it strengthen you and may the tiny signs of spring bring hope in your everyday.

This week I noticed in the garden the swelling green buds of the hazel. The first leaves of the elderberry bush are unfolding. Our honeyberry has its first blooming flowers! It’s a strange view to see these pastel colored flowers on bare branches.

One of the botanical signs marking the shift from winter to spring is the pussy willow. The male flowers are emerging from the shiny brown bud cases. Their silky softness is a real treat on a cold wintry day! I’ve picked some branches to bring inside so I can watch them slowly opening and flowering. Bringing nature home is a huge comfort for me.

‘More than any other season, winter requires a kind of metronome that thicks away its darkest beats, giving us a melody to follow into spring.’ Katherine May (from Wintering)

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