For those fearing winter

It’s that time of year. As Glenn Frey so accurately put it, the heat is on. It is officially two layers and a hat weather outside at 5:30 and on days like yesterday, well into the afternoon. Tis the season for pumpkin spiced everything or (for those with a more purist palate) the thirty-one day period of the year where the taste of black licorice seems unmistakeably right.

And we’re all getting excited about jack-o-lanterns and crunching leaves. We take the family apple picking and then we’re basically chained to our ovens waiting for one of the eleven pies to be done because we never seem to remember how much a peck really is. We’re going out less and watching TV more, because it seems like the appropriate thing to do. We’re not lazy. We’re honoring the season.

Most importantly, we’re buying mums. This is a fall mandate, especially if your house is in plain view of commuters or neighbors or creepers. We currently have the required assortment of mums greeting our guests as they enter our home. The principal purpose of the mum is to let you know that we know what season is. That we haven’t become disoriented to time or place by the surprise 85 degree days. No, no. The Cashins of Baltimore are good and mindful folks. Didn’t you see their mums?

But the thing about mums is, they’re not winning any beauty pageants. Really, the seasonal coordinating colors is about all they have going for them. They’re more the “great personality” of plants. And though they’re hearty and resilient, when it’s time for them to die, good luck stopping them.

Behind the candy and the Starbucks and the babies dressed up as hot dogs, we have what this season is really leading us to: death of some layer. (OMG, Katie. Really? It’s like 7 in the morning. I thought this was about plants…) I am really fascinated when people say something like “I love fall, but gaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh…I HATE winter.” I feel like these people are in great denial of what this season is about and probably a few other things.

For those of us in more seasonal areas of the earth, we’re heading into the dark and going inside. Fortunately, we’re not actually going to die in this cold season.  Neither are the trees, just these fruitions. We’re going to come out the other end into spring. I promise.  It’s just dead skin. It happens every year. And every year, I feel like in some way, shape, or form I make this plea to honor the darker days.  I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t want to be alone in this or I think it’s the only way to save the planet or what. Everyone has a cause, right? Mine happens to be one that doesn’t so much need an advocate. Fall will fall whether I beseech you to slow down or not.

That being a truth, I still hope we can become less KitKat-centric and a little more attuned to the outside elements’ need to introvert for a bit during this time of year. That we’re able to do this for ourselves as well, with the assurance that winter will not last forever and we will emerge into the season of less homely  plants, like the Black-Eyed Susan.

In these days, may you feel the permission to do the going inside, the grieving, the bread-making, the sleeping, and the steadying that’s been put off and possibly forgotten. Because you can. Because while everything around us is inching towards what looks like death, you, here today, will not die at the hands of your pain or sorrow or anger. And you will not be permanently scarred by the darkness but you will be a deeper and maybe fuller person because you took this opportunity to experience such things.


2 responses to “For those fearing winter

  1. Funny. I’ve never liked mums. But have noticed the gorgeous color blending this year of my neighbors’ arrangements. Always a sign many of us will soon be by the fire with a book, hopefully peacefully pondering.

  2. For whatever reason, I guess we should be grateful for chrysanthemums for, as one writer of Haiku has penned…

    When the Winter Chrysanthemums Go
    by Matsuo Basho

    When the winter chrysanthemums go,
    there’s nothing to write about
    but radishes.

    Xoxoxo AJ

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