May I cry on your shoulder?
See, the signs are all pointing to the end of summer, the beginning of classes, the return of a tight schedule. Would you believe leaves are turning here? Granted, the brownish ones aren’t the healthiest of trees, but the roadside green is definitely shifting to yellow. Temps at night are so cold I must not leave my parlor window open at night for fear the orchids will wake up and realize they are not in the tropics after all –and we have tomatoes. Yes, my friends, we have seen our first tomatoes in this Vermont valley so we know summer is essentially over.
Okay, okay, so how do you talk someone down from this ledge? You remind me it is not either-or, either summer or winter, but that I am blessed to live where four seasons flourish in their distinct beauty. Even winter has breathtaking beauty, though it takes a good snowstorm to make us forget the rock hard, grimy, dirty landscape of February. And really, what is the real problem? It comes down to this: I need some form of outside activity that replaces my morning bike ride. I need to get my heart pumping, I need to push away from my lesson plans. I need big sky and lots of light.
There is a long list of the benefits of winter. I came across it as I cleaned my desk this week; my family has contributed to make such a long list I am embarrassed to be whining again. No bugs, no garden work, no more zucchini. Pumpkin-chocolate bread, chili, apple pie. (I know exactly why I gain weight over the winter, by the way.) Crisp air, wide vistas, tree fractals. Christmas break.
And the glaring omission in this litany is that Christ is in winter too, that even as the earth moves to the other end of the ellipse I can’t get beyond the reach of the Holy Spirit. Silly me. Grace in the past, grace today, and future grace.
Tomorrow at dinner I will ask my family to help compose a list of all we accomplished this summer. It hasn’t been wasted and that gives me hope that the days to come will be just as fruitful.
I wish I could store away warm sunlight of June and July against the bitter desolation of February and March. We’ll have to discover again the soul-nourishing hospitality we have so little time for in the summer. Good food, good conversation, good memories to get us through until spring comes again.
To all my teacher and tutor followers: here is to a new year. May the lives we pour out for our students and children come back to us richly as they grow like vines in the summer of our affection. May our labor in the hot fields of the classroom bring an fabulous harvest of character. May we make it to May…