January Thaw and Life Lessons


I find it easy to muse about what it is like to be frozen in winter. New England biting winds and freezing temperatures nip noses, ears and finger tips. And feet often resist every effort to warm them. I sometimes feel that the cold will never end.

Then one day, spring flirts with all of us; temperatures rise, rain falls and ice locked rivulets become rushing brooks. For a while the air is warm and breezes once again feel welcome.

We see colors in richer hues when they are damp. Winter's prevailing blue hues disappear in the landscape and reappear in water. Rich reds blush in twigs and fallen leaves, and golds flit in and out of air and water, reminding us of the promise of warm sun.

The January thaw is fleeting, of course. Winter re-freezes the escaping brooks, transforming a fluid landscape into still life once once more. Noses, ears and feet chill again. And, tempted by spring, winter again feels especially long to me.

Yet I find enormous comfort in the seasons' moody changes. I am reminded that nothing - for good or ill - remains the same and that ultimate control is almost always a myth. All things grow, mature and die, making room for new things. Turmoil yields to peace as stasis is interrupted by activity. Grief and death is never the end. And cold will always yield to warm, just as cool will follow the very hot. The trick, I think, is to be an active participant in all of it: to endure the hard and revel in the easy while we are able, and to make an effort to love it all.

At least I try. The ground is hard again and the brooklet, frozen. My feet are cold and my nose runs when I walk. But I have have been witness to a spring preview, and have seen the life that lies sleeping underneath the ice. Now I wait . . . .