In the Womb of Winter

A chickadee in the forsythia bush outside the window. Red cardinals flitting through the dark background of the side-yard pine tree. Snow fell earlier this week, but the ground was far too warm for any of it to accumulate. The temperature drop was enough to freeze the tips of the tulips that had emerged far too early though.

Without snow, mountain winters are brown. Hillsides strewn with dead, brown leaves, dark-brown tree trunks, beige fields, and muddy driveways. We have entered the womb of winter, and it is soft and soggy.

Twice a week, I work twelve hour days. I leave the house in the dark morning, and return in the dark of night. In winter, we can put in far more hours than the sun. I crave the sunlight, but these days those rays aren’t strong enough to warm the skin, and the frigid draft in the house today will simply be a light breeze come spring.

I am trying to teach myself an appreciation of this season, these winters without snow.  I don’t remember hating winter so much in my youth, but there was snow then, more consistently and more in accumulation. Winter was a season that varied yes, one that whitened with regularity, then slowly melted over several weeks. None of this “here today, gone tomorrow” disposable snow. Snow that doesn’t linger,  doesn’t stay a while.

I hear birdsong, in January, and though it is a blessing and a rare winter treat to hear something different than the cawing of the black winter crows, it is a song I know I truly should not be hearing.

I put out sugar water and wheat flour for our honey bees earlier this week in response to their search for pollenous food in a month when there is none.

It is not winter, but it is not spring.

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