For the past few years, I have noticed a moment late in winter when I worry whether I can do it all again. Somewhere past the holidays and even past the worst of the cold but too far from true warmth for even an optimist to declare an early spring, I just feel so deeply exhausted. Or, if not exhausted, then supremely comfortable. I work steadily and contentedly through the short daylight hours of January and February, mostly a very quiet farm life, and wonder whether I will have the energy for another series of busy, warm weather months.
After the final thaw and first true green up, my life will be filled with gardening and traveling, entertaining and big project wrangling, animals and farm expansion, and more. This time of year I am again deciding between a focused marathon training cycle and feeling good in a bikini. (These two goals are not necessarily compatible, which is one of life’s biggest surprises, ha!) This time of year my husband has legislative season layered on top of his normal Commish duties, which are already voluminous, so his energy drains away completely day after day, and this depletion becomes mine in many ways. I become protective of our available time and energy, forgetting that effort begets effort and energy begets energy.
None of this is a complaint! I choose every bit of it and more. This is a beautiful, complex life we have designed and which I love in great detail. And yet, gosh my mind and my body, my actual spirit, are fairly bankrupt by late winter. Sallow, like my skin.
So I worry a little, am I up to the task again? I have just recently convinced myself it was okay to read books in the late afternoon and cook dinner already showered for bed and definitely wearing pajamas. I really love our cozy living room with white twinkle lights and our stacks of fuzzy blankets, and these many consecutive nights of luxurious, gold star sleeping hours are so so so nice.
Very soon, the quiet, often starry black sky we inhale during that first cup of coffee will be noisy with roosters and already Technicolor, already gleaming with daybreak and bursting with wild potential. Soon, instead of letting me take my time waiting for first light, the farm will be antsy while I stretch awake, and every task outdoors will compete for first attention. The days will be crammed full, so full I never finish everything on The List, and I will be lucky to have showered by sunset, much less before cooking dinner, ha. I yawn against these thoughts and doubt my stamina.
I look for the snooze button on seasons.
Then it happens. We are gifted with a few extraordinarily warm, gentle afternoons, a few skies that pulse that familiar childhood shade of blue, and that intoxicating scent of freshness everywhere. Can you smell photosynthesis, or chlorophyll? Can you hear roots shimmy underground, coming back to life? The newness grows and expands gently, every day, even when a cold snap reminds me it’s still winter. It all accrues slowly along with the lengthening days, and, thankfully, my energy does too. Just a little bit at a time.
Around the days I see the first daffodil sprouts emerge from the sleepy garden beds, I begin to think that my daily routine has been too much about easy maintenance. I naturally crave traction, progress, and creation. Coasting feels stale. Resting begins to feel wasteful. My hands itch for gardening gloves instead of cozy ones, skin also longing for the silkiness of warm soil. My legs flex involuntarily when I think of crunching a spade into raw earth or forking over the compost heaps. My eyes are desperate for new colors, no longer content with all the sepia. I begin to obsessively check the horses for signs of shedding.
Gradually, my body responds to more tasks and more opportunities, especially outdoors. I feel excited again for the longer days and everything they bring along.
Nature and all her interlocking cycles inch forward without our permission and unheeding of our understanding. Ready or not, the seasons make progress. Thankfully, we are more than passengers; we are part of nature. Our energies are all intimately connected, and as the outside world moves through changes, so do we. Trust that.
If you are feeling too tired or very comfy and maybe reluctant to think of doing much more than you have been doing, take heart. Your inner resources can expand greatly as the days lengthen and the temperatures rise. The sun and the moon are your allies. You are part of nature, and this recent season of hibernation was good and necessary. What’s coming next is good and necessary, too.
I am ready. Are you?
“If you want to make your dreams come true,
the first thing you have to do is wake up.”