When you think about it, the shift from winter to spring is a pretty incredible one. No mater how much you know about plants and what’s going on within them, how all their processes work, and their chemistry, it feels miraculous to watch them unfold from snowy ground and bare twigs. There are so many lessons here that we can take away from observing this shift in the seasons, but one of the most important is recognizing there is a great deal happening beneath the surface that we can’t see before those green shoots emerge. It may appear barren and stark outside, and the snow may seem as though it’s holding everything in place in this state of stillness, but under the ground, within the twigs, it’s all happening. The processes we go through are often times invisible, and we have to wait for the results, like emerging green shoots, to see the changes that are taking place.
It is through these invisible processes that we learn some great lessons in patience. We may want to be actively working outside under the warm sun, harvesting fruits and seeing physical results of our labors, but really, this is easy gratification. It is when we prune the bare branches of fruit trees on a rainy day, plant an ugly, wrinkled rhubarb crown in a garden bed, and just daydream indoors on a snowy day too adverse to work outside in, that we work our hardest without the reward of visible results. These are the times when we might feel like we aren’t being productive or making progress. This is when we encounter our grit. This is when we learn to trust that there are results even though we can’t see them. This is when we wait.
This is the time of year on our little homestead, where we do massive amounts of work without the most immediate rewards. There are so many projects, it feels like the list is never ending, but we make use of the winter season to chip away at it. If you were to look around for visible changes, something may seem different, but winter is winter, and not much is growing yet. The fruit trees and berries are pruned and cleaned up, the blackberry brambles are gone, some plants have been moved around to new locations, and there are a few new garden beds. The fall burn pile with the yule greens and tree is missing, with a new one started in its place. The cordwood paths are filled in with a new layer of sand. Flower bed clean up has begun. There’s also that fancy new chicken coop by the garden, the most exciting and noticeable change. In another month or two, all you will see is changes, and they will be bursting out everywhere faster than your eyes can keep up. I keep thinking about that while I’m working, and smile to myself.
At the end of the winter, the emergence of spring is bright, and glorious. It’s a magical and mysterious sight to behold, and while there are definitely elements of magic and mystery at work, remember that it happened with a hell of a lot of hard work. Plants and people alike are really a bunch of magical, mysterious, hard working, resilient badasses emerging from winter. Yes, that means you too. Always remember that.