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This morning I awoke and the sun was quietly rising behind the hill as I uncurled the layers of blankets from over me. I looked out the bedroom window and down below in the fields and pines I saw two deer slowly stepping through the snow. Their story of movement is shown in their tracks over the hills. They snuck into the garden and ate hay and maybe said good morning to the chickens. They clearly had bedded down in the pine valley because I saw their soft body marks where the snow molded to their fur and tucked legs. They slipped in at sunset and arose with the sunrise. Our rhythms felt similar.
It is always at the beginning of February when the animal activity begins again. There is such stillness in January in the woods. Sure you see the hoof prints and the tiny food prints of mice, but for the most part, the conversation in footprints is quite silent. Then one day when the sun feels it is finally meeting me just after my alarm clock I notice the animals are stirring too. The deer are more likely wandering through the road as if I am the one blocking their path and the squirrels scurry all around in the woods.
In this short month the depth of Mid-winter will be fully realized and then in a moment also begin to lift. We will begin to feel the energy shift and the promise of spring will come just weeks after the end of the month with the Maple sap running in the trees. The snow will melt from the bases of the trees even as it still comes down, but we will know then that Winter’s hold is loosening. I know that February is our truly last deep moment of Winter where the snow is pure powder every day consistently. With that feeling, I also feel the urge to soak all of this in. While many are counting the days to Spring, I am only counting them knowing it is not nearly enough to soak in all this silence and slowness.
Over the years of being fully in Northern winters, I have learned winters are hard and in fact, mid-winter is where many draw the line. The ruts of the same boots, the same sweaters, the constant need for the extra things like coats and hats, and everything feeling a little harder than spring and summer, begin to wear us thin. The gray days feel they are closing in on us. These things are very real. I was born in the depths of a snowstorm in the North. I both love these days but deeply long to be barefoot in the garden too. I long for that simplicity too. But I know that winter grants us something such as deep sleep, stillness, silence, the reminder of darkness’s offerings, and so much more. I want to make sure that I have fully gathered it all. Just like I want to gather all the chamomile in June and absorb that smell with my whole being. I want to know I rested deeply and got into my bones just like I eat all the Asparagus in spring till I cannot take one bit more.
When we moved back north to live this life, I committed to simply learn to soak in every season. I committed to finding a deep passion and love for them because I knew that they all present challenges all their own. Just like any season of life. February is no different, but what is special about February I have learned is that it is one of a few months that feel they arrive with hope on their coattails and a reminder that no winter lasts forever so we choose how we spend the things that challenge us. Will we rise to meet it with a purpose to enjoy it and find the beauty in even the final depths of darkness? Will we see the challenge as a rise to something good?
Whenever February’s sunrises and brings, I also feel there is a rise in my step. Maybe it is that I need something new when my routines feel a little stale. Maybe it is that I feel the light shift in the house all of a sudden. Maybe it is the movement of the animals. Maybe it is the way the sun sets feel different. Maybe it is simply that I hear more birds all of a sudden. There is no telling, but I do know that as much as we often forget we are still animals. We are still very much a part of the rhythms of the season and the pull of the sun and moon. These things still pull on us and I spent more of my years unaware of this than aware but the ones I have been aware of have been some of the best particularly when it comes to this awareness in this new month.
I hope you pay attention to the shifts in yourself. I hope you become a little more aware of the shifts of the light. One day it will catch you, so let it. I promise it will feel like a cloud just lifted off of your shoulders and you may feel a little more at home in the present.
Hello! I’m Megan Gilger,
A strong believer that nature and the seasons are our greatest teachers. We live on a hill in Leelanau County, Michigan just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan. This land we are responsible for is where we are focused on building a life around the seasons and intention. We spend our days here building a regenerative model of living and focusing our garden on native plants and intensive polyculture planting styles. My focus is less on self-sufficiency and more on community-sufficiency through how we grow and connect through the seasons. Learn More