Winter is not my favorite season – not by a long shot. That honor belongs to Autumn. Growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, it would have been a sin not to love the Fall season. Our local economy certainly depended on a good leaf season when the mountains were covered in shades of gold, russet, mauve, canary, burnished copper and every shade in between. As a child, I collected large oak leaves that had softly wafted to the ground, gently carried them to my house, and pressed them in between the pages of a very large book. When I was in 3rd grade, one of Mom’s co-workers gave me the collected works of Shakespeare from her old college days. That book was perfect. As I grew older and opened the book for pleasure reading, I would often find some long forgotten leaf.
Once I became a parent, I continued to use that same book for my children to press their own treasured discoveries. Sunny days, cool nights, large harvest moons – what time of year could be better?
So while Autumn is my favorite, I have discovered over the years that Winter is a necessity. We usually had a scattered amount of smaller snowfalls throughout the season around Asheville. Occasionally a good foot or more might cover the land, enabling me to forgo school, drink hot chocolate, and read my latest books from the tiny West Asheville library. I loved snow days – what kid doesn’t? And yes, I still long for snow days as an adult. Since I have the pleasure of working at an institution of higher education, those days are not out of the realm of my existence.
My family and I moved to the Piedmont of North Carolina a few years back. Snow has been non-existent in recent years. Except for the recent arctic snap, which covered most of the country, even cold weather has been relatively sparse. While this has been great for my heating bill, it’s not been good for my soul. Each spirit needs winter – a time to retreat, to contemplate, to regroup, to break from the headiness of springtime, the heat of the summer, and the joy of autumn. The British artist Sting produced a near perfect CD a couple years ago – If On A Winter’s Night. The songs are a collection of English winter songs. Yes, that does include some Christmas music, but it’s more about the short, dark and dreary days of winter. When interviewed about the music, Sting stated that music was his church. He continued to explain that the soul needs to experience all the seasons – it’s hard to appreciate and truly live the other seasons if we skip over winter.
That’s why I need winter. My soul cries out for winter, for the quiet, for the dark, for the stillness. We all need our snow days.