Late Winter Day

Today has been a classic late winter’s day. There is snow on the ground and the sun casts long shadows through the forest and provides respit from the frosty breeze. Venture back into the shade and the day seems chill indeed. Snow and rain tomorrow, bridging to a mild week.We were out and about early this morning, stopping by a favorite breakfast cafe for pastries and coffee, before heading to one of our go to parks. The temperature was 20F but the late February sun warmed the car enough to grant us a comfortable breakfast. We were even able to roll down the windows for a pleasantly warm photo shoot, which gave Jennie permission to head out across the parking lot to the river.

Ducks and geese gather at the park which lies just at the point the tidal river becomes navigable to kayaks and canoes. We arrived as the tide was heading briskly out, stirring up the river and creating feeding opportunities for the divers. As Jennie approached, the mixed flock caught the current and floated out of reach downstream.

No matter, there was ice to photograph, brilliant in the morning sunlight. Soon the waterfowl swam back upstream, stopping just within range of her camera.

On the way home we stopped by the beach, greeted by a heard of deer running along the shore parallel to us. In the salt marsh, a mixed flock of ducks and geese occupied the open water. Jennie quickly identified a wood duck feeding near the rushes, a grand find indeed!

Then it was a brief stop for groceries and a return home to the housework we had no time for during the week. I managed most of the laundry while Jennie did the hard work. In relationship, the impacts of disability are not limited to the injured party. Rather, they too often fall disproportionately on the spouse or partner. It can be frustrating all around.

Now, the late afternoon sun illumines the brown and white landscape, shadows coalescing into pools of deep blue and gray. The large rocks in the old field stone fence that runs along our property line are thrown into warm relief by the play of light and shadow. As I watch the sun settles lower in the west and shadow fills the landscape, the contrast between the growing darkness and the last light intensifying.

I look at the clock, which reads 4:30. A month ago it would have already been twilight. The season turns towards spring even as we know that most likely winter is not done with us. I’m ambivalent; I long for spring, even as I love winter. I crave the growing light even as I relish the healing winter cold and darkness.

I also know that winter as we know it is endangered, having already been reduced by more than two weeks in the past twenty years or so. So much of what we enjoy in the world depends on mid-latitude seasonality, and the seasons are in the process of rapidly changing. For innumerable species that have evolved to depend on the seasons being essentially dependable, these changes are already catastrophic. We wonder whether they will weather the combined changes to climate, habitat, and food resources.

For this moment, we put aside our anxiety and fear about our changing climate, and settle into the beauty of the evening. We breathe, resting in the knowledge that all things are well even, as from our human point of view, they are not. Like so much of life, this moment rests in the strange truth inherent in contradiction.

8 thoughts on “Late Winter Day

  1. Beautiful words to describe this time of year. Sounds like you had a lovely adventure for this stay-at-home period of our lives. A relative posted some spring containers on her deck in Seattle. I looked out at my banks of at least 2 1/2-3′ of snow and just thought not so much. 🙂

    1. Judy, our snow is gone and the garlic is shooting skyward. The sun has moved quite a ways north and fills our kitchen with morning light. So, yes, the season is changing. Looking forward to new crop maple syrup.

  2. What a wonderful day, Michael. I could feel your joy as you described your special (safe) breakfast and interacting with nature as you completed your errands and made those special stops. I agree that it seems so strange to experience joy and peace while at the same time being very aware of the hardships, challenges and pain of life. Nice to hear from you.

      1. I am indeed having mnay wonderful days, but today fretting over the impossibly incompetent vaccine process here in Florida. Damnation!

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