It still has more than two months to go, officially. Winter, that dank, cold, restful season. Restful for land and plants, though who knows what happens beneath the soil during these three months? It may be we’ll discover a myriad of communications and preparation during winter, a whole language of growth untapped.

Where I live, this week’s snow has largely melted, and tomorrow’s sun and projected highs will take care of the rest of it. It won’t be the last snow before the spring equinox on March 20. February storms can close schools and force families to gather together, a welcome change from the mega-house practice of each member seeking their own cubby. If only the power stays on . . ..

Yet this afternoon I spotted buds on the lilacs. I looked again. Yup, buds. A little early, aren’t they? Robins haven’t even checked in yet, while the jays and crows have multiplied. In sun-filled skies, larger birds wheeled and circled, waiting for death to darken the ground below: a deer had been thrown onto the grassy side of the road. Patches of snow hid in the north face of a rock or tree. Tomorrow, their places will be mud.

I used to dread autumn and winter. Less light, more cold, and after January 1, a long slog to spring. But now this break seems more . . . necessary. More like a crucial time-out from the raucous green heyday of spring and summer, those hazy days when life coils, bounds, leaps. Winter doesn’t pounce. It lays a quieting hand upon the land, upon us, respite and reprieve from boisterous abundance.


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