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  • Kelly Marks

A Winter's Rest

I remember as a child getting the Sears Roebuck catalog around the first of December. It was a huge book nothing like the pamphlet-sized ones of today. I remember looking through all the toys and making a list, checking it twice, and then having to whittle it down to a more appropriate size. For Christmas I was allowed to ask for one toy and one doll.


Can you imagine what a Herculean task that was? I started off with “I want every single toy in this book” to “Which ONE do I want?” But the exercise taught me many things. 1) Don’t be greedy. 2) Amazing decision-making skills 3) Anticipation can sometimes be as enjoyable, if not more so, than actually getting everything you want.


Flash forward a few years - or many years if you’re into accuracy. It was a super cold weekend in January with snow and ice predicted, and there I was in my warm and cozy kitchen, sipping a cup of coffee, and spread out before me were my grown-up catalogs.


These boasted names such as Breck’s Bulbs, Burpee, Seeds of Change, Park Seed and the list goes on and on. And once again the phrase sprang to my mind, “I want them all: bulbs, tubers, rhizomes, bushes, trees, and just plain old seeds.”


A friend and I were having a discussion about how our world and our lives are cyclical in nature. Even Proverbs tells us “To everything there is a season”. We have seasonal cycles and lunar cycles, even karma is cyclical. “What goes around, comes around”. Winter has always been a precarious time for me. It certainly is a part of the cycle, but I have never known what to do with it. The cessation of most activities, the hunkering down till spring? I have always felt at loose ends, not sure how to endure it or whether to just enjoy it, if that were even possible.


The same friend also mentioned that she had read of something called the Fertile Void, and how winter is the epitome of that, especially in the garden. It sounds almost like an oxymoron. Void means empty, and fertile denotes abundance or potential abundance. How do the two co-exist? Can they?


Spring is hopeful. Preparing the beds and the soil. Summer is a sense of accomplishment, fruition, harvesting and reaping from all the hard work. Autumn is organizational. Cleaning, clearing, putting the garden to bed. And then there’s winter. Winter is resting and recovering, but it’s also about dreaming and planning.


Just as it is in crop rotation with letting land lie fallow, if we don’t allow ourselves some downtime to become rejuvenated, we run the risk of becoming burnt out, of working with less efficacy.


As we get farther and farther from an agrarian lifestyle, we seem to be losing touch with the cycles of life. We get caught up in a vicious cycle of working harder and putting in more hours, of never slowing down. We forget that sometimes we need to take it easy and rest. There is a time for work, but sometimes we need to just sit back, make plans, and dream of spring.


And in my dreams I won’t whittle down my wish list. I’m going to grow them all: dahlias, peonies, tulips, rudbeckias….



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