All day there has been this swirling of vagrant leaves and fluttering of bare branches and it has been enough to make me wonder if all of heaven and earth might just be on the cusp of some arcing change. Perhaps winter’s icy fingers are beginning to crack and splinter in the hidden places. Perhaps there might just be a Spring after all.
It’s in the hushed evening that I remember what I read once about frost seeding. How a farmer can scatter a pasture with seeds while the ground is still frozen. Then, as the soil freezes and thaws, space is opened up and the seeds fall into the space that is created. All throughout the winter, with each new round of bitter cold, the process continues and the seeds become more and more a part of the soil. After each storm, each seed is better positioned to germinate once the temperatures rebound and stay consistent.
It is in this remembering that I think about my fall and winter. I think about how my life has been flipped on its head, how I am mothering an infant once again, how those dear to me are sick and in need of attention and how, right in the middle of it all, I am earnestly practicing the sacred art of balance.
I feel as if each day that passes is one grand pas de deux, a freezing and thawing, a hemming and hawing from crisis to wonder, emergency to calm. One day, my feet are laced with hoarfrost. The next, they right dance from warmth.
Sometimes it feels like this season wants to get the better of me. There have been days strung upon days where the cold has seeped in and around even my tightest corners. Days when, no matter my fortitude, I’m close to being numb and I might well crack wide open.
But then another string of days dawns and the sun seems to swell with fiery longing and I can’t help but catch a whiff of moist soil as it rises up to kiss the fickle zephyrs.
Clearly, this winter is not yet over.
Tomorrow the forecast is for overcast skies. I will wake up and there will be steely clouds hanging low and the mercury will be stuck in a downward trajectory, once again. But I will turn on the kitchen lamp and I will brew some coffee and I will make raisin toast. Then I will settle deep into the sofa cushions and I will nurse my chubby little baby while running my fingers through the hair of one of my older boys. I will take my mom’s temperature and cook her soup as she fights back from the horror that is chemo. I will joke with my dad so I can see the crinkles at the corner of his eyes and I will try and breathe deep in the middle of it all.
Because I am learning, like the farmer, that it is possible to plant seeds in the middle of winter. Each of these small tasks, done in love, are my seeds. It is how I cast my hope upon the tundra. And even if I don’t see any noticeable difference in the wind chill, the choice to sow love through these minor acts of everyday worship is to carry the hope of Spring into the dark places.
Then I remember the most amazing thing about frost seeding. The pastures that are most likely to flourish from this approach are the ones that have been overgrazed, shorn clear to the dirt. They are the ones that are worse for the wear and have nothing more to offer come Spring.
I understand what it means to feel overgrazed, to want to rest, to long for the opportunity to grow and flourish, once again. I know what it is like to feel unable to produce tangible evidence of a greater work happening down deep. Yet these very fields? They are the fields that will become greener pastures. These are the places where life can and will return.
It has been a long winter and it is not over yet.
But I am in the business of planting seeds. Each day finds me leaving a trail of them. And, come Spring, I just might be able to find my way home again.
Image credit: Magic Madzik