Winter Joy.

Magnolia Iolanthe

The magnificent Magnolia Iolanthe

As I write the depth of winter is upon us. Bumping into people the conversation consistently turns to the weather, the overall theme being the wrongness of it all. People don’t like winter. It goes without saying that of all the seasons it’s the ‘baddest’, the one most likely to be ostracised or deleted, should that be an option. Recently a friend shared with me her strong dislike of the bareness; it seemed as though winter had an ascetic quality which spoke of a painful lack. I responded that even though I don’t cope well with the cold (I’m definitely a hot-house flower), I’m always fascinated by the way winter strips the world to its bones, as though to make it anew. In my garden a lot more bare earth shows at this time of the year. Lichen covered branches reach skyward in architectural splendour, providing perches for the Kingfisher to spot prey and Rosellas to feast on bugs that inhabit the bark. Then there is the beauty of the bark itself; in all its myriad colours and textures it enriches the eye and the heart. Wet or cloudy days inspire me to sit beside the fire or lie in bed and contemplate; when nothing is possible outside the inner world is always available and full of possibility. I think this is the aspect of winter I enjoy the most; the emptiness that results from the leaves falling to expose endless sky, plants gone to ground for the cold patch leaving bare earth carpeted in leaf mould. All this grand spaciousness that is over-full during the fecund seasons can finally be appreciated. This is the one time of the year I can experience in my garden the same spaciousness that is the matrix of all life. Honouring the empty spaces within my garden has become a practise; it allows me to know in my deepest being the paradox of emptiness and fullness; an eternal truth expressed through all living things. As I quietly sit, listening to the silence, disinclined to action, space grows within me leaving me ready and waiting for, well, I’m really not sure. I can only surrender, feeling the connection to a primal incubation that begins in the emptiness and ends in the return of spring, overflowing with creativity. Winter is a time to nurture our creativity and we do this best by following Nature’s example. This is the greatest joy of winter, the allowing of the mystery to unfold without question. Other joys sustain us in this dark and demoralising time for winter is not entirely heartless. Monarch butterflies still flit about the garden keeping me company as they feed on the Tithonias. We have had some sunny days and the Magnolias are beginning to flower. In the emptiness their beauty stands out as an expression of grace.


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