Peace in the (Pioneer) Valley

At last!  The days of increasing darkness have ended, and the light begins to return again!  Although it won’t be noticeable for a while, it feels like a pressure valve has been released, and just in the nick of time.  I don’t think I could’ve handled losing any more  precious daylight.

Today is the first full day of winter, although today’s weather forecast might have you fooled into thinking it’s the first day of spring.  Is it really supposed to be 60 degrees? Ah, well, no matter.  The cold will be back in no time, and there will be plenty of it before the ground thaws and we start to see the first crocuses cheerfully popping up.

But don’t despair, for with the winter comes a time to retreat within.  It is a time of care we must give to ourselves, and we mustn’t extend ourselves too much to the outside world.  It’s a time for what comforts us most, and being able to allow ourselves those comforts without guilt, for we need to recharge and gather our energy for the coming spring.

One of the things I like most about winter is the unparalleled magic and beauty of snow, and over the last week or so, we got about a foot of it here in the Pioneer Valley.  What, exactly, is it about snow that makes everything so peaceful?  There is nothing quite like a blanket of pure white to muffle out the craziness of life.  The world seems to stand still, hushed, and for a moment, perfect.  The dreary greys of the season are whitewashed with a fresh coast of soft powder, and everything radiates serenity and grace.

There is something particularly special about the first real snow of the season.  We’re not winter-weary yet, and in fact, we are excited for our first chance to break out our sleds, skis, snowshoes, or what have you.

Playing outside is just as important as quietly observing and appreciating nature, in my opinion.  After all, it is just a different kind of appreciation.   But it’s great when you can do both.

After a few exhilarating runs on the sledding hill the other day, I plopped down in my sled.  I laid staring at the open sky, which was the color of the clear tropical waters of the Caribbean.  Tufts of orangey-pink clouds breezed across, and I suddenly found my 6-year old self present, as I tried to identify the different shapes.  One looked like a conch shell and one looked like a unicorn holding an Easter basket. The sky was framed with snow-covered pine boughs, and I found myself thinking, “What a gift.”

As we enter this Christmas season of giving, I encourage you to give to yourself – not something of the material world (although that’s okay too), but give yourself time to retreat, and time to appreciate yourself as part of this beautiful natural world that we live in.






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