Tag Archives: winter

the rhythm of where I came from, the rhythm of where I am

It is amazing how my ideas of the seasons, the natural cycles accompanied by Earth’s journey around the sun are so shaped by growing up in the Midwestern US.  Even after dwelling in the desert for 8 years, I frown at the shoots of wildflowers reaching green tendrils up to the sky in January and exclaim No! Its too soon! Of course, what is wild and natural can be neither early nor late, but there is a part of me that still exists in Minnesota, that still appraises within the constructs of that world: long winters with temperatures that plunge well below 0 degrees Fahrenheit  Short, glimmery summers that pass with a breath of humidity, the buzz of mosquitoes  and then suddenly are gone. The sacred two week race between the 15th of May and memorial day to plant seeds if there is to be any hope of tomatoes in August.

The day I saw the beginning of wildflowers there was a high of -5°F in Minneapolis, and I think it was that part of me, still shivering in the North, that couldn’t accept my new home, the new rhythms of life. Barry Lopez writes on how disconcerting life in the Arctic is for those of us dominated by the simple truths of temperate living: the sun rising in the East, setting in the West, day after day. It is true in Tucson, albeit to a lesser degree. I get frustrated with Midwestern transplants that complain about the lack of seasons in the desert.  There are seasons, magical ones, but they aren’t our seasons. I understand this is really what they miss: the comforting truths of fall leaves crunching underfoot in early October.  The heavy snows of March. The breeze off the lake cutting through the humidity of July. And we can adjust to new places, humans are adaptable afterall. I tend to lettuce and chard during these months while Minnesota is under a blanket of cold and snow and ice, I open the door and let warm January breezes pass through the house. But there is still the part of us gazing at the world through the eyes of our childhood, from the perspective of where we came.

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the longest night of the year

This year’s winter solstice gave me the opportunity to experience fear- the kind that crawls down your throat, sucks the air out of your lungs, and grips your heart with an icy claw.

I was helpless.  Once again, life pulled me into that deep recess.  I wondered it it was better to channel my inner warrior queen, with her blood-stained headdress and war paint, to fight my way out with violent, valiant courage? Or was it better to reach in and rock my fear like a frightened child until it fell asleep in my arms?  Or simply breathe and whisper silent prayers on chapped lips and stay ever so still?

I’m not sure of the answer, but I made it through.  Sleep found me and I survived the longest night of the year.  Despite the stretched-out hours of darkness, morning was warmer than usual and I embraced the daylight with my entire being.

For now, the fear has scampered away to find a place to hide in the shadows.   The Earth is cycling back towards the sun, the center.  The days will now become imperceptibly yet tangibly longer.  Hope lives again.

winter-solstice-longest-night

spring

Today is the first day of Spring. This year has been unseasonably warm in the desert, but yesterday Winter gave one last hurrah. It was if she follows the Gregorian calendar.  The sky ripped open with hail and rain while her icy breath shocked tender spring plants and sent shivers down my spine.

Her grip wasn’t complete, however.  In between the downpours of hail, the sun shone warmly.  A losing battle against the forces that spin our planet, our universe.  I felt in synch with all this drama– the wild extremes are a bit like grief.

 

 

Today was still cool, yet sunny and comparatively calm.  I think most of our seedlings survived the onslaught of the elements and will carry on. What appears now in the garden to be tiny and hesitant, pale and subtle, will be in only a few months vibrant and unruly, overgrown and fruitful.

Our planet is now halfway between light and dark.  All in perfect balance for new beginnings, new life.  I find myself propelled to grow, to expand, but this requires some self-examination.  Where do I want to go?  Who do I want to be?

I wish all of you a happy Spring, and fertile ground for whatever you wish to bring forth into the future.

winter

I have loved Arizona since I was a little girl.  As far back as my memory takes me, I was enamored with the cacti, the drenching sunshine, even the intense summer heat.  At 22, I swore I would move there, and I finally arrived to stay on February 1st, 2005.

I’m an Arizonan now.  I’ve got a perma-tan that lasts throughout the winter months, a straw hat and chickens in the back yard.  I don’t round-out my “ohs”– or at least not as much as I used to.

Its not a huge surprise that I moved away.  I struggled with a depression that liked to set in every November and hang around through March.  In a land of famously-cold winters and 10,000 lakes (or really 12,000, right?), I managed to make it into early adulthood without riding either a jet ski or a snowmobile.  I don’t care for Minnesota cuisine of hotdish or bars. And my family never went fishing on the weekends, drilling through the ice to make it an all-seasons sport.  We didn’t even have a cabin “up north.”  And everyone has a cabin “up north.”

I hated the relentless Minnesota winters, but these days I long for the cold.  I’m not sure that makes any sense, although it might prove that if you are away from anything long enough, you will start to miss it.

To be in the woods during the winter is a special kind of marvelous that can’t be replicated in the desert.  Soft snow, all around, with tree branches slicing up the greyish sky.  And its silent.  So very silent.  You can hear your heartbeat while your breath puffs out in a whitish plume.

 

 

 

I’d like to be enveloped in wintery calm, swallowed up in white.  I want to rest in that timeless, silent place before and beyond any illness, fears, or frustration. It does seem easier to access from the deep Minnesota woods in February, but I believe I carry this peaceful spot within me.  Laced within my DNA, or holding the roots of my soul, its there, waiting for me to visit– even from my kitchen in Tucson.