No one says much good of Winter,
except as something hard that
exaggerates the Spring reprieve.
– Max Coots
I just put my roses to bed for the winter. Most of the leaves had fallen from the stalks. There were some few stragglers, of course; mostly turning grey from frost bite nipping at the edges. It was time. It had been a long and glorious summer. The season here in Delaware is far longer than I have experienced in New England. New shoots begin to swell early in April, and buds continue to struggle forth late into November. With careful pruning I can get up to four generations of roses during those incredible eight months. Now that these bushes (and I) have had the time to establish roots, they have rewarded me with a superabundance of color, and hue, and texture and scent. But it was time.
Time to sleep. Time to recover. Time to pause and to rest. Time to take a break from the constant effort and energy of bursting forth and blooming and blossoming and creating. Time to bank the fires of life, to consolidate and to conserve. Time to lie in dormant silence and to briefly relinquish the primal urge to grow. Winter is that time. At least around here. It is that quiescent time when my roses, and assorted other local life forms, seek respite from both the glory and the demands of the summer season and slip into the inertia of slumber and repose. And I respect that. I even appreciate the necessity. After all, ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.’ I read that somewhere (or heard it sung).
So I trim the canes back. As brutal as it sometimes feels, the stalks, which have stretched too far, have become over-balanced and place too much strain and demand upon the crown. They need to be pruned; and I sometimes feel like I can almost hear a soft sigh of thanks. It’s almost as though the whole system can now breath, can let go and let down, can relax. As I spread new mulch laced with rose food softly up against the core I feel as though I am tucking a child into bed for the night; to sleep, perchance to dream, and to rise again, refreshed and renewed. It is a sad-sweet departing. It is an evening ending tinged with thanks and the promise of a new beginning, a new morning and a new tomorrow. But for now, adieu. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Me too. I feel those same things within myself as I put my garden to bed and we enter into this winter season together. I too (being a local life form) feel the strain of the growing season, feel the need to stop, to lie down, to let go, to rest and to bank the embers glowing, to breathe deeply again, to sigh and to sleep and perchance to dream. It has been a glorious season, full of rich experience, wonder, joy, enthusiasm, enchantment, color and delight. But I sometimes sense that my energy and effort seem also to be fully expended. So I, too, need to cut back (or to be cut back), to relinquish the overbalance and unbalance, to surrender many of the demands I and family and friends and others, place upon this fragile organism. Not so that I become something less, but so that I can not only survive, but can truly flourish. Perhaps this is the time and the season for all of us just naturally, to pause and to reflect; a good time to recover and to recollect. It is not only the dark time before the resurrection of spring, it is also the rich gentle time of inner peace and transfiguration. And so I welcome this season. I celebrate the advent of the cycles of life and living. I enter into this in-between-time with anticipation and expectation. For it also has its own delicious fruits.
So welcome to winter. May we each and all softly bank the embers. May we all feed the roots of our spirits, and shelter the core of our souls. May we all gather our strength, encourage our life aspirations, dream our dreams, and cherish this time of gentle peace.
In a way winter is the real spring, the time when the inner thing happens, the resurge of nature.
– Edna O’Brien
So may we also let the ‘inner thing happen’ and be transformed; and may god bless us, every one.