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The Seasons of Life - Winter


“May you have great dignity,
Sense how free you are;
Above all, may you be given the wonderful gift
Of meeting the eternal light that is within you.”
         - Excerpt from "For Old Age, To Bless the Space Between us" page 71, John O’Donohue -

 

 

I sit at my window, looking out into the bleak landscape of Mid December in the prairie. The sky clouded gray with promises of snow. With this anticipation of the coming storm, my thoughts turn inwards. I think of my dear friend, ill in her bed, laughing at a story I told with great drama and enthusiasm. Thoughts of my senior cat Autumn, next to my yoga mat, laying on her back, feet in the air, mimicking me in my yoga pose. These memories flow through my mind like a river, swelling up emotions. Taking me on a journey of joy and love.

 

Autumn while not in the happy baby yoga pose, she enjoyed  laying on my notes as I wrote this blog.

 

Winter’s rhythm naturally guides our organic self through the depths of internalizing. In the cold climates, the days are shorter, we spend more time inside. When the wind is blowing a hooley of snow and wind, I like to curl up with a blanket, a cup of tea in one hand, book in the other and my pups at my feet, while the feline friend curled on the arm of the couch next to me. My partner and I love working on inside craft projects or put a puzzle together. I also find myself gazing out the window remembering things of the past. I enjoy Winter hikes, especially when it’s lightly snowing. There is something so magical about the soft hush surrounding me from the snowfall. My sister spends her time staying connected to nature “I sit at an Eastern window each morning to drink my coffee during sunrise."

 

 Kim's foraged treasures from her land to decorate for Winter.

She also likes walking through her yard to find Wintery beauty like frost to take photos of, decorating around the home with foraged treasures like pine cones, and working on Winters' crafts. I can always expect a precious crocheted scarf or shawl from her, which I wear with honor.

 

 

Lisa, the Matriarch of our Prairie Star family, celebrates Winter “I create a warm cozy space on my back porch with blankets and furry pillows and sip coffee and enjoy the snowy landscape.” She also loves to do puzzles and holiday bingo with silly prizes with her family.

 

 

Aaron spends his Winter researching different growing techniques and plant growing conditions and logging them into his Evernote. “It’s super important to stay connected to nature during the Winter months, continuing to take hikes on snowy trails and exposing myself to sunshine on the nice, not-so-windy days.“

 

 My view from a Winter hike

 

 

I find it interesting how the Prairie Star family has similar ways to spend Winter.

How do you spend your Winter time?

Here at Prairie Star Botanicals, we associate the Winter with Elder years. During a person’s Elder years, they may turn more reflective, to remembering things of the past and sharing it with loved ones,

One of my favorite Authors is John O’Donohue. His words and voice  wrap around me like a warm embrace.   I have included a link to his website below. There you can find all his books and some of his speeches.  John calls people in their Elder years as a time of inner harvesting.  “Old age is a time of coming home to your deeper nature, of entering fully into the temple of your memory where all vanished days are secretly gathering and awaiting you.” - from his book Anam Cara, page 178

 

 

Winter also calls to mind that of solitude, gathering its wisdom for the coming Spring. Many elderly folks live alone and spend thier days in solitude. My Da , just recently Widowed, lives alone after 66 years with my beloved Mom. John O’Donohue explain with aging and solitude," In order to survive solitude you need a ritual". My Da’s daily rituals are taking walks around the lake or enjoying a cup coffee with my brother. He also keeps  busy with Church activities and puzzles. Many of the things I do are only during the Winter such putting puzzles together or crafts. Winter helps me give myself permission to slow down.

Our Prairie plants rely on the Winter. They lay dormant gathering their energy to renew again in the Spring, much like an inner harvesting. In the plant world we call it cold stratification. According to Aaron “Cold stratification is the process of putting seeds through a cold period for proper germination. Many native plants, such as Pleurisy (Butterfly weed) or any Asclepias (Milkweed), need an extended period of cold in order to break dormancy and grow in the Spring.” 

 

Pleurisy -Picture taken early July 2022 on one of my hikes.

                   

The Prairie’s ritual in the solitude is the cold stratification. Aaron goes on to explain if there is no cold stratification (ritual) “The need for cold to break dormancy is a form of protection for the species: if it is cold long enough and other proper conditions exist, then the plants will grow. If it doesn’t get cold enough or isn’t cold for very long, then the seeds stay dormant and wait to grow next year or many years later when the proper conditions arise.”

 

   Aaron's cold stratification process for his garden.

Another example of comparison for Winter and the Elder years is that it can be considered harsh. As Betty Davis famously put it “Growing old ain’t for sissies.”  Even though I am not in my Elder years, I have felt the stiffness of time in my middle aged body. I have seen my Da’s aging challenges, however like Winter’s magic, he still has a twinkle in his eye as he tells his stories. My Winter magic is hiking during a light to heavy snow with no wind and letting the snowflakes kiss my face. I do stick out my tongue like I did at 5 years old. There's also something so satisfying about bedding down for the night during a fierce Midwest snowstorm, then waking up the next morning to full sunshine sparkling off the snow. Those are my favorite days to sit by the window with a cup of coffee or tea, inner harvesting and watching the birds eat at the bird feeder.

 

 

The Winter Solstice and other Winter celebrations bring families together. The theme of the season is one of kindness, giving and forgiving. Each day the Sun visits us 1 minute longer. “Old age is a time of second innocence. The second innocence comes later in your life, you know it’s incredible capacity to disappoint and sometimes destroy. Yet not withstanding that realistic recognition of life negative potential, you still maintain an outlook that is wholesome and hopeful and bright.” Ana Cara, page 185

 

 

This second innocence reminds me of the Winter storm and the Winter magic that happens. If the conditions are right, I gear up and take the dogs out to play in the snow, exploring the garden and ponds.

Winter is here to remind us there is hope and beauty in the world when things may seem so challenging. The same in my opinion, could be said for sitting with an Elder who is harvesting their thoughts and bringing the past out into the light. Their stories share wisdom and hope for the younger generations. When my Da tells his stories, I learn more about his life experiences and family before my time. Listening to my father with his experience of survival during the Great Depression makes me grateful for the abundance in my life but also I realize how resilient my family was. I feel their strength and determination in my blood. I am resilient. I am prairie strong. 

We should cherish our Elders like we cherish the warm sunshine after a cold Winter storm. I encourage you to sit with your favorite Elder and listen. 

What can they teach you?

 https://johnodonohue.com/

 


1 comment


  • Julie spellerberg

    This journal entry is so well thought out and written. It has encouraged me to actually enjoy winter and all the opportunities we have in winter to do the things that can only be done this time of year. Thank you!


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