A Warm Winter

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

February 16, 2023

Yesterday, I had to do one of those routine household tasks. I had to take the garbage outside to the large bin. When I got to the front door – large bag of trash in hand – I realized I didn’t have any shoes on, only socks. It’s February. I thought about running to get my outside slippers from my bedroom closet. But when I looked at the sun shining brightly through the clouds, I had another idea. I was going to run outside barefoot. Why not?

This winter has been unusually mild for the part of the world I live in. There were only three days that were so cold the air hurt my face. And while part of me worries that global warming is to blame for this respite, I also remember years in the past in which the winters were equally mild. I remember years when the grass remained green – at least partially – year-round. I remember years – like this one – when I had no need to use my trusty snow shovel. I remember years when the idea of wintering never came to fruition.

Whenever I think about the winter, I think about Katherine May’s book, The Wintering. I read The Wintering last April, at a time when the winter was behind us and the spring was around us. As she says in her book, “Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.” The quote makes me wonder if missing out on the winter cycle may have some detrimental effects that I am not yet aware of.

Hold On

And then I remind myself that the weather, as well as many other things in life, is completely out of my control. If we get a cold winter or an unusually mild winter, it’s something that needs to be dealt with, not controlled. Of course, there may be some detrimental effects of the mild weather, but that’s life. The cycle is ever changing.

And on my way back from the barefoot task of dropping the garbage in the large bin outside, I took a few minutes and stood barefoot on my front lawn. I thought of my body touching the Earth. I thought of how fortunate I was to get a little more grounded on a winter day. I imagined my feet growing roots and holding firm in the ground. I imagined the spring. I imagined my sunflowers growing again. I imagined my garden producing food. And I smiled.

Life may be an uncomfortable mix of warm and cold winters. But it’s the variety that reminds us — we’re alive.

The cycle can change. And that’s okay.