brighter days

Collard, lacinato kale, and strawberry seedlings growing in soil blocks under grow lights.

Winter is a strange place. Each year it takes me by surprise. At the end of the gardening season I'm usually tired and sun-soaked (though last year we were just soaked), and I think, how nice and cozy these dark months will be! I'm going to rest! Sleep nine hours! Drink cocoa and read books and pile on all the yoga props!

What's that about? Is it marketing? Is the darkness laced with some kind of memory-eradicating drug? How do I delude myself into thinking winter will be anything other than hell frozen over? 

Living in a northern place, I know only two seasons: winter and brighter. Winter begins after summer solstice, that cruelly timed initiation to the slow sink of darkness. 

“Summer weather” doesn't really begin until the period people call summer has ended, hence summer isn't a season. In an exceptionally good year, we might get a few minutes of summer in the second week of June, but there are exceptionally few good years, so no, we get winter and brighter. 

September is often sunny and brisk, which is lovely and reminds me of living on the California coast, that magical place I'd flee to in September if I had a million dollars and sense. 

Alas, September is also a busy time, and I'm fond of my perennials. I feel attached to this little plot of earth. There are so many things to bundle and dry and cook! There's so much water here! This is the voice of winter luring me with its toxic comforts. 

October is pretty for a week or so. The leaves are aflame and their colors pretend to mask the growing chill. People travel to this region and exclaim, It's so beautiful! Winter tells me I'm lucky to live in such a place and shames me for my aversion to the heavy gray dampness that's already settling into bones and souls, forming moss where there once existed will to do or be anything other than the remnants of decomposition. 

I don't know what happens between Halloween and winter solstice because in those loathed weeks I become possessed by the evil fury of all-encompassing darkness. Records indicate that I cry a lot, sleep little, and ceaselessly search for farm jobs in tropical locations. 

Then we reach winter solstice, and it's over, or so I tell myself. It's brighter. We're gonna be okay. I might even sleep again. It's time to start the sweet potato slips and the onions, and if they can grow then maybe the world isn't dead. 

January. February. March. Skin sags and cracks and takes on the consistency of forgotten porridge. Joints I didn't know I had make themselves known through electric screams. Brighter is growing yet struggles against the cumulative effect of gray and late-season snow. Like a hard seed cracking from cycles of freeze and thaw, my consciousness returns and amnesia loosens. What the hell was I thinking? NEVER AGAIN. 

White sage seedlings growing under grow lights in containers.

Now it's April. Slivers of ice scratch window panes. It's dark, but it's brighter. In the laundry room, sweet potatoes and onions are joined by collards, strawberries, and herbs, and they're so damn cute! My eyes are diverted from Zillow listings. I sketch my garden plot. Winter whispers over my shoulder, Aren't you glad you have me? How would you grow winter squash on a tropical beach? 

I'D EAT PAPAYAS! I shout back.

We obviously need to work some stuff out, but for now, I'm grateful it's brighter. I'm excited for the garden. And, even though I don't agree that “cold builds character,” I'm grateful for the months that winter forced me to stay indoors because I finished draft five of my book!

Happy brighter days ahead. I hope you're well. If you want company through the next few weeks of that other season (mud), join me for my next online yoga series, where we'll play with concepts of stuckness, practice curiosity, and move and breathe in kindness and love. You can find out more info here or send me an email.


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