The temperature outside dropped to 18 degrees last night.

The wind, blowing fiercely, had for days been bringing down any last lingering tree leaves to form a protective blanket for any vulnerable plant roots near the earth’s surface.

And last night the whistling, sometimes moaning wind brought down dead tree limbs and even dead trees. Once fallen and eventually decayed, these will be recycled as compost for new plant life, later on.

All around Earthsprings the deciduous trees in the mixed forest, having yielded up their green disguises, reveal their true, naked structure, the true nature and shapes of things.

Today bare branches and bent trees rub against each other in the wind, making a familiar, unique noise, a conversation, part apology, part disgruntled maneuvering for room, for space, for life. Inside my skin, I imagine my bones doing the same thing, creaking, stiff, stripped down as I often feel these days.

I move, now, mid-morning, on my errand, bent like the trees against the biting wind. I don’t like to be walking thus, for I grieve each broken shard of frozen grass I step on.

I stand still, so that I may hear birdsong that yet flies in the face of potential death, and I think with compassion of all the trembling creatures in the woods, without a warm haven like my own, as I check on the cats in the barn.

My fingers, stiff with cold despite thick gloves, are clumsy in carrying firewood from the shed to the house, so that I sing gratitude as I refill the sturdy stove that has kept me warm and safe all through this winter’s night.

I notice, with tender winter awareness, the chilled arrest today, for once, even of my flighty thoughts.

I salute respectfully the winter stillness that has been settling over me for weeks and has deepened now, not into an icy numbness, but rather into a natural living cycle of dormancy that will be essential to the birthing of the next springtime flush of creativity.

The poet Nancy Wood captures wintering thus:

“…It is our quiet time.

We do not speak, because the voices are within us.

It is our quiet time.

We do not walk, because the earth is all within us.

It is our quiet time…”

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