Cycles

Eleanor Deckert
I'm not sure how to spell it... but here I am, moaning! Winter seems soooo long!
How eagerly we await that first snowfall, hope for a white Christmas, look forward to winter sports. Winter Wonderland is endlessly beautiful as the branches are laden, the sky is bright blue, a breeze shimmers glittery flakes in the sunshine. Icicles, frost and animal tracks are Nature's decor.

But seriously. Enough is enough! Each time the roads are clear, the temperature goes up and the calendar inches forward, I get my hopes up that we are DONE! And then: more white stuff. Sigh.
The wood shed is getting empty. The potatoes are running out. I've watched a zillion movies. I've managed to stay fit (sort of). But it feels like an endurance test. “When are we going to get there?” us kids used to whine on a long car trip. When Bambi complained during his first winter, cold and hungry, his mother said, “It seems long, but it won't last forever.”
I have learned to celebrate the tiniest changes and call them “Spring.” My favourite is “crusty snow.” Yes, when those sunny February days and freezing nights melt then freeze the snow until the crust is hard enough to walk on. Good day to go exploring! In March, birds and squirrels get “twitter-pated.” Coyotes howl, seeking mates. Did you notice the swelling leaf buds on the shrubbery? Look closely and you can see winter-gray bushes begin to blush deep red or spring yellow-green. Pussy willows! “Spring Ahead – Fall Back!” we remind ourselves to change the clocks. Soon the Spring Equinox will bring days longer than dark. Easter cards, toys, and colours are in the stores.
Still, it's hard to believe it will ever be Spring!
Ancient cultures preserve rituals to bring back the sun. It's life and death! Think of it - Egypt, Mesopotamia, Aztec, Australia, Inuit, Norse, the Far East, the many peoples of Africa... they all had explanations, gods and goddesses, robes, fires, and sacrifices to coax the sun's return. Symbolic artworks in caves, temples, and tapestries indicate how universal is the need for humans to participate in the changing seasons.
Do you have family traditions for this time of year? What do you do less of or more of as the day-night ratio shifts? What foods or colours, outdoor activities or equipment, hobbies or interior decorations do you favour in wintertime, and refresh with different choices in springtime?
The earliest stories preserved in the Bible also indicate a keen interest in how God is providing for humankind through the stability of the seasons.
In the first chapter of Genesis verse 14, God says, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years.” And, as if to renew the security of predictability after the chaos of the flood, God speaks again (Gen. 8: 22) “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
Here is another clue from an ancient Hebrew manuscript, thought to have originated in 400 BC: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Well okay, God made it, I might be wise to quit complaining and accept it. In fact, I think there is still time this winter for me to finish the hand stitching on the quilt I have been working on. Thank God!