Winter by San Diego standards arrived several days ago. I took the week after Christmas off and thanks to a warm Santa Ana I have been vigorously at work in the garden. I pruned ten rose bushes and countless other plants and tress. I pulled weeds and moved plants from one spot to another. The overall general clean-up resulted in close to fifteen bags being hauled by me to the garden bin, no small feat considering the terraced landscape. In comes the compost and top soil tomorrow. My friend Kris describes my hauling soil up the stairs equivalent to several deep knee bends using significant weight in each hand. I forget that gardening really is exercise! Despite sore muscles and aching hands, the work is satisfying. I wile away hours without thought while intermittently entertaining feats of garden magic. I am like a mad painter, a profoundly happy one at that!
My husband Jim looks at one tree and becomes worried. It is a crape myrtle, one of my favorites. I tell him to relax. It is a deciduous tree just like the nearby Birch and only looks dead. The truth is it is recharging the way a bear does when it hibernates for winter. It gathers its strength from its restful state, finding energy from the earth and from things we do not see. In some aspects, its loss of leaves brings us more light so we can endure the darker months. Come spring, however, it gives a joyous burst of pleasure, like a surprise hello, didn’t think I would come back, did you? kind.
Every season, and yes, we really do have them in San Diego despite appearances, has a lesson. Winter reminds me of the inner life we give too little attention. The life that is we must tend to if we are find and nourish peace of mind and the strength for the next bend in the road. To be strong for those decidedly endless days of spring, summer, even fall, we need our winter to turn inward, to rejuvenate, so we can make way for a more resilient and hopeful life.
Enjoy this season. It too shall pass but if well tended it too will bring the rewards a well lived life deserves.