The anchors on the early morning television news were discussing Groundhog Day this morning; the weatherman suggesting that the groundhog might see his shadow, the peppy young anchors cheering the idea on, advocating for spring.
I’m rooting for six more weeks of winter.
These past few weekends, when it’s gotten into the 40s, have had us scrambling to get the sugarwoods up and running. We’ll start tapping this week, and I could really use another month of prep time. If it’s been too cold to work plastic, I’ve been working wood, trying to get next year’s firewood down and pulled to a landing and bucked so I can have it split and curing by the time the apple blossom’s break. I’m late, I know. I try to be a year ahead, but this past year has been one of those years.
The getting-higher-by-the-day light, the swelling red maple buds, the pull of late-winter work that sucks us in, swirls us around, and spits us out when the leaves have broken makes me wish there was another month between January and February, or at least a half a month. I don’t know if this is just me getting older and busier, or if it’s an unconscious reflection of the time we’re losing and have lost off our winters as the planet warms, but there seems to never be enough time in winter anymore.
It makes me nostalgic for the deep cold even as the deep cold season hasn’t yet passed. The riven black ice on the streambed boulders, the diamond-cut crystals on the snowpack’s surface, even that ice on the inside corners of the uninsulated window panes that swirls like the ornamental paper in the front of old books.
This ice freezes objects, but also, in its way, freezes time. We all slow down, at peace with being unproductive. A Saturday morning might linger over coffee. An afternoon might devolve into a book, our backs against a glowing woodstove. Maybe we get to see each other – conversation instead of working in the woods until dark.
In the natural world there are plants that need winter’s cold and a period of dormancy to thrive. I think the same can probably be said for people.